Karen Taylor gave a thumbs up to cheering volunteers as she crossed the finishline at the YMCA on Saturday morning. She laughed as Kristi Sornson hung a medal over her head that was made up of ribbon and a Hershey’s bar, a sweet reward for accomplishing what she had set out to do.

Taylor decided to enter the one mile portion of the Turkey Trot to combat her inactivity and relive the fun runs of her younger years.

“I started doing fun runs when I was in the service,” Taylor, who was in the U.S. Army, said. “We could do fun runs on Saturday and not have to go to formation on Monday.”

Like Taylor, Diane Beaudette was participating in her first race after significant time off.

“I used to be a triathlete,” Beaudette said. “I had two knee surgeries and three manipulations.”

Joining Beaudette were Trish Castillo and Lupe Munoz. This was Munoz’s first 5K — she was recently diagnosed with colon cancer and decided now was the time to finish her first race.

“I used to walk a lot,” Munoz said. “Somewhere along the line I quit.”

Armed with walkers and some stylish turkey hats, the women headed down Monument Pathway on a mission to complete the 3.1-mile race, which is put on by the YMCA with help from First State Bank.

The Turkey Trot replaced the annual Jingle Jog, said YMCA Senior Program Director Triniti Burgner.

“This year, we decided to switch it up,” Burgner said, adding that the plan is to alternate between the two races.

Unlike the Jingle Jog, the Turkey Trot had a competitive element for runners who wanted to keep track of their time. Those who came out on top in the 5K got to take home a certificate for a frozen turkey.

There were 155 participants preregistered for the Turkey Trot, with more signing up on Saturday morning prior to the race starting, despite the chilly temperatures.

Burgner said it can be challenging to drum up participation in cold months, which was part of the reason for holding a race in November instead of December.

“People wait until they see the weather forecast to register,” Burgner said. “You never know what you’re going to get.”

Although there were the hard core runners, as Beaudette called them, the event was one that everybody was encouraged to participate in regardless of their athleticism.

“We have a lot of walkers,” said Burgner. “Walkers, joggers, runners — everyone is welcome.”

Proceeds from the event go toward the YMCA Campaign which helps fund programs and membership scholarships so that those who can’t afford to pay full price can still reap the benefits that the YMCA has to offer.

“We don’t turn anyone away for lack of ability to pay,” Burgner said.

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Kamie Stephen is a reporter with the Star-Herald. She can be reached at 308-632-9041 or via email at kamie.stephen@starherald.com.

Kamie Stephen is a reporter with the Star-Herald. She can be reached at 308-632-9041 or via email at kamie.stephen@starherald.com.

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