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Turkey trot steps off Thanksgiving morning

By Staff | Nov 20, 2015

For 36 years now, runners and walkers from all over Florida have joined an abundance of seasonal residents for the pre-Thanksgiving Day dinner tradition known as the Turkey Trot 5K.

The 5K starts and ends on the grounds of the Wellness Center at Cape Coral Hospital, 609 SE 13th Court. Race day registration begins at 6 a.m. with the 5K run taking off at 7:30 a.m., followed by the mile fun run and the 100-yard Tot Trot.

The family friendly event is one of the area’s oldest and largest running events of the year. It attracts runners of all ages and levels of experience.

Heather Mazurkiewicz, a long-time Cape resident and a firefighter with Bayshore Fire Rescue, will be running with her daughter, Mia, 8.

The Turkey Trot is Mia’s first and her second 5K. For Mazurkiewicz, it’s a favorite holiday tradition.

“I love it, the Turkey Trot is one of my favorite races of the year,” she said. “It’s a nice race route through the neighbors behind the hospital. I always like the race because a lot of the residents back there stand out and cheer us on.?It has a nice hometown feel to it when you run in that race.”

It also holds a special meaning. Mazurkiewicz will run in full firefighter gear, which weighs 50 pounds.

“I run in full gear to raise awareness for cancer and the fire service, to bring awareness for pending cancer presumption legislation in Florida,” she said.

Cape native Donna Germain, a new runner, also has a cause in mind for the Thanskgiving Day run.

“I am very excited to participate in my first Turkey Trot,” said Germain, the Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce’s new president and CEO. “I participated in my first 5k on Veterans Day and caught the running bug. On a personal note, I am happy to participate in an event that will benefit the Golisano Children’s Hospital. My 5-month-old nephew was born premature and spent several months there. They truly work miracles there.”

Proceeds from the event goes to the seven-story Golisano Children’s Hospital building fund through the Fort Myers Track Club’s $200,000 fundraising pledge. A portion of the proceeds also is used to help out the track club’s youth scholarship program. More than $27,000 was raised at last year’s Turkey Trot.

Registrations are still being taken online through the track club’s website (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com/turkeytrot). The entry fee goes up $5 after Saturday to $25 for the 5K Run and $15 for runners age 17 and under. The mile fun run entry is $10 and the Tot Trot $5. Race day entry for the 5K is $35. Race organizers have prepared for at least 2,400 participants.

As with most larger area runs in Southwest Florida, the track club officials and a stable of volunteers staff the race course, water stations, finish line timing and the post-race awards. The 5K course is safe and well marked and leads runners through the neighborhoods stretching around the Wellness Center.

Unregistered runners/walkers, pets, bikes, vehicles, skateboards, rollerblades and skates are strictly prohibited on the course. Baby joggers are allowed, but participants must remain at the back of the pack so as not to interfere with others.

Overall awards are presented to the top male and female finishers, top male and female masters (40+), top male and female grandmaster (50+) and top male and female senior grandmaster (60+).

Age group awards are presented to the top five male and female finishers in each age group. The oldest male and female participant also are recognized.

Runners already registered can pick up their race packet from noon to 5 p.m. on Friday at Snyderman’s Shoes, 1900 Trailwinds Dr., Fort Myers; 9 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday at Run Florida, 13101 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers; and noon to 6 p.m. on Nov. 25 at the Cape Coral Wellness Center.