More than 100 Santa Clarita Valley residents put on their running shoes and sweatbands early Thursday morning to participate in the ninth annual Thanksgiving Turkey Trot on College of the Canyons’ (COC) campus.
Hosted by the COC Athletics Department, the annual 5K brought together runners of all ages to complete a three-mile cross country course through the college’s Valencia campus.
“We’re just thankful that people can come out and gather Thanksgiving morning and get a little fitness in before they spend quality time with family and friends,” said Lindie Kane, head coach of the COC cross country and track & field teams.
The 5K race began nine years ago when Kane hosted the event to bring the community together after her mother was diagnosed with brain cancer.
“We started it as a little community event with family and friends to give thanks on Thanksgiving morning and then we’ve just kept it going,” Kane said. “Now we’re in year nine and we have a lot of our same people that have been with us since we first started.”
Now the event also benefits the college’s cross country and track & field programs. The $20 entry fees to participate in the race also supports and supplements the athletic teams’ budgets.
“[It covers] any extra expenses that we have that go beyond our budget. So that could go toward travel, toward equipment, toward uniforms,” Kane said. “It just goes above and beyond our budget to help with any supplies or equipment we need.”
The event is also a way for families and friends to come together and have fun before the craziness of the Thanksgiving holiday begins.
Mindy Brill invited her friend Yolanda Morales to run the 5K with her after participating in the Turkey Trot for the first time last year.
“She [Brill] called me and I thought: I was just thinking of starting my 21-day challenge of running every day and this will be a good start for me,” Morales said.
“When I called her she said it was meant to be,” Brill followed.
The same was true for Aaron Kirkland who invited his daughter, Kara, and wife, Kim, to run the 5K with him this Thanksgiving.
“This is my second time doing this particular race,” Aaron Kirkland said. “We’ve done other runs together before, but not this one.”
The family is found their passion for running about six years ago when Aaron Kirkland took up running after his father passed away from lung cancer.
“I decided go from a couch potato to being a marathon runner,” he said.
Now, the Kirkland family is considering making the Turkey Trot 5K another Thanksgiving family tradition.
During the Turkey Trot, participants also had a chance to explore the COC campus as they took off near the COC baseball field, continued through the campus, winded through the surrounding hills and finished inside Cougar Stadium.
Whether participants were walking or running throughout the course, they all expressed their excitement to participate in an event that brought together the community during the holiday season.
“It’s been consistent with the same people coming out and then we pull in some new participants every year,” Kane said. “We’re happy to do a community event that some people can come out before they go home and feast.”
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_