Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Tom Turkey (Stephanie Hoopes) gets the runners ready for the 1-mile Fun Run, which took place prior to the annual 5K race on Thanksgiving.
By Jon Johnson
PIMA – Like most events in 2020, the 15th annual Pima Turkey Trot was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but through the perseverance of organizers Cody Marshall and Melinda Nelson, a cadre of volunteers, and all those who participated, the annual rite of passage of Thanksgiving went off without a hitch early Thursday morning.
“It was a fun day and we were glad that we could do it,” Nelson said.
The 1-mile Fun Run started things off with a bang at 8 a.m. sharp, and Tom Turkey (Stephanie Hoopes) led the young racers with a warmup and start. Afterward, the main event got underway at 8:45, with some who finished the Fun Run performing double duty and running the 5K as well.
Families aplenty still showed up in droves, albeit slightly smaller numbers than of years past, but more racers took part this year than last year, which saw harsh weather conditions.
Under ideal weather conditions but with COVID-19 restrictions, 709 people still signed up for the event this year and about 578 participated in the 5K.
Indeed, the sun was smiling down on this year’s event, a small ray of hope in an otherwise dreary year, and those who participated enjoyed the day as old acquaintances and new joined in the laughter and joy. Friends and family and others cheered as the runners came past the finish line, whether it was the first male or female or runner in their age group or the last.
“It happened and lots of people came and had a great time,” Nelson said. “It was actually super great weather. Our turkey is here. (It was) so fun. It was a great day.”
Extra precautions were taken this year, of course, and there wasn’t the same amount of mingling as usual; medals and prizes were quickly awarded to top finishers and there was no large giveaway event as usual.
The traditional turkey was still given away to the family with the most racers, however, and this year the honor went to the Bloomfield family, who fielded 32 runners.
The overall winners this year were Connor King, 17, of Chandler, for the men’s division, finishing in a respectable 17:59.61, and Christen Rogers, 33, of Silver City, New Mexico, who finished in 23:00.29 as the fastest female on the course.
The event is, first a foremost, a chance for families and friends to get together, while it was more difficult this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, it was still possible to hold the event. It is also a fundraiser for the Pima Schools, and to date has raised about $90,000 for a variety of programs and equipment.