Arlington prepares for 22nd 'Running of the Turkeys'

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MANCHESTER — As Thanksgiving draws closer, Arlington is gearing up for its 22nd annual "Running of the Turkeys."

The annual Thanksgiving day race has become a tradition for Arlington and surrounding communities, looping for five kilometers through the village with a 1K fun-run for younger participants. On average, the race attracts between 300 and 500 runners on Thanksgiving morning.

When the "Running of the Turkeys" was first planned, however, former Battenkill Valley Runners (BKVR) President Jim Sullivan simply hope to provide a local alternative for Turkey Trots taking place over the New York border.

"My most vivid memory of the first year is setting out well before sunrise to set up the course in a blinding snow squall," Sullivan said. "Fortunately, by race time the snow had stopped, but the wind was howling and the temperature was hovering just a few degrees above zero. I made the mistake of giving lengthy directions at the starting line as runners were beginning to turn blue."

Despite its frosty beginnings, the race grew popular over the years for its fun atmosphere and "amazing, but kind of challenging" route according to current BKVR President Dara Zink.

"A Turkey Trot is an awesome family event for Thanksgiving," Zink said. "Everyone can come out as we offer both running and walking. Often, we have large groups that come out as families."

"We always wanted it to be family friendly," Sullivan said. "We kept the registration fees as low as possible and included a fun kids race."

Kicking off at Arlington's Fisher Elementary School, the races top runners are awarded with a prize fitting for the holiday.

"We give Turkey's to the first place winners," Zink said. "We also offer `turkey wear' every year to the first 300 entrants, which changes every year. We try to keep it under lock and key until the day of the race, so that's always a fun surprise for our participants."

"We had a lot of fun coming up with giveaways that weren't t-shirts, just wanting to be different," Sullivan said. "I believe we started with gloves and over the years did caps, headbands, socks, and even boxer shorts."

While the race provides healthy holiday fun, Zink notes that BKVR utilizes the opportunity to give back to the community they're thankful for.

"This goes towards our scholarship fund, which we give to local graduates and college students in the spring," Zink said. "Most Turkey Trots are really great local races that give back to their communities."

The 22nd annual "Running of the Turkeys" will begin at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 23 at Fisher Elementary School. For more information, visit https://www.bkvr.net/running-of-the-turkeys.

Reach Cherise Madigan at cmadigan@manchesterjournal.com, or by phone at 802-490-6471.

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