Turkey Trot registration gets under way
The Fort Myers Track Club’s largest race – the Cape’s annual Turkey Trot – opened for registration this week.
With as many as 2,500 participants expected to register for the popular Thanksgiving 5K, 1-mile run and Tot Trot, the club is also seeking volunteers to make the event now in its 39th year a success.
“People can’t believe the size of the race. The start line is always impressive, to watch the sheer volume that comes through,” Turkey Trot Race Director JeAnne Hertel said.
She has been with the track club for seven, or eight years now and she has rarely seen the race attract under 2,000 runners.
“That takes a lot of volunteers,” she said, adding that there are volunteers setting up the day before the race and as early as 4 the morning of.
“It is our largest event of the year,” Hertel said.
Volunteers are being sought for a variety of duties, including staffing the water stop on the course, setting up the start and finish lines the day of the race, setting up the food serving area under the tent and organizing the awards portion of the race.
With 2,000 runners, Hertel said only half of them pick up their bibs before race day.
“We have a lot of people that have to help with packet pickup. We have a little over 100 people that register race day,” she said, adding it takes volunteers to make everything run smoothly.
Those interested in filling the volunteer positions are asked to email email@example.com.
The 39th annual Turkey Trot will take place Thursday, Nov. 22, at the Wellness Center of Cape Coral, 609 S. 13th Court.
“You can be in any kind of shape . . . run or walk it. If you can’t walk the three miles, we have the one mile,” Hertel said.
Registration for the 5K is $25 for nonmembers and $20 for Fort Myers Track Club members. After Nov. 19 registration increases to $30 for nonmembers and $24 for members. On race day registration increases to $40.
It is $12 for Fort Myers Track Club youth members who are interested in registering for the 5K and $15 for nonmembers. The fee increases to $20 for nonmembers after Nov. 19 and $15 for members. It is $40 on race day for registration.
The 1-mile Fun Run is $12 for Fort Myers Track Club members and $15 for nonmembers.
“Grandparents do the 1-mile with the kids. We don’t restrict the age,” she said.
The Tot Trot, a little over a 100 yards, is $5.
Hertel encourages participants to register and register early. She also advises people to do early packet pick-up before the race.
“They have to show up and pick up their size. We don’t reserve sizes,” she said of the shirts. “The first packet pick-up, you’re guaranteed to get what you want.”
Participants flock to the race because of the atmosphere.
“You can invite the whole family. That is what I think is a lot of fun about it,” Hertel said of why so many individuals participate. “We try to make it more family friendly.”
Part of that atmosphere includes a photo booth with a turkey.
“People come in and take a lot of pictures and have fun. A lot of people travel down to Florida on Thanksgiving. We get a lot of people from out of state. They want the shirt and photo booth with the turkey,” Hertel said.
The Turkey Trot also includes food and water. She said Lee Health really provides a helping hand in providing fare for the event.
The race starts at 7:30 a.m. for the 5K, 8:45 a.m. for the 1 mile and 9:15 a.m. for the Tot Trot.
Last year, Hertel said they gave out pumpkin pies, donated by Lee Health, to the overall winners, as well as the first winner in each age group. She said they will be doing that again this year.
Hertel said races typically start when the Fort Myers Track Club sees a need in an area. When a need is identified, the club finds a venue and chooses a course for the race.
“We will see a venue that we want and we will host the race there and choose the charity,” Hertel said, which is how the Turkey Trot began nearly four decades ago. “We are responsible for the timing, getting the volunteers and getting all the sponsors. We are the full organizers.”
The charity that benefits has changed over the years. Now Lee Health is the beneficiary, specifically the Wellness Path at Cape Coral Hospital, as well as the club’s youth scholarship program.
She said the idea behind the Wellness Path is that patients do not have to sit in their hospital bed, but rather begin the healing process along the path.
“Right now we have a $50,000 commitment. We signed a pledge. We just started that a couple of years ago for this specific charity. We pay off a little bit at a time,” Hertel said.
The other benefactor of the race is the Fort Myers Track Club’s youth scholarship program.
“We give that out to a senior every year that is heading to college,” Hertel said.
The requirements include being a member of the track club, volunteering 10 hours within a year and being in good academic standing at school. In addition, although they do not need to commit to a running program, they must maintain a healthy living lifestyle.
For more information, visit fortmyerstrackclub.com.