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Turkey Trot revs appetite and gives back

by Kristi Niemeyer
Editor | December 1, 2022 12:00 AM

On a brisk, semi-sunny Thanksgiving morning, around 100 people gathered near the intersection of Hwy. 93 and 35 for the annual 5K Turkey Trot.

Organizer Lou Brenner, attired as an extra-large turkey with his similarly dressed dog, Tiny, waddled to and fro, organizing runners and walkers at the starting line, and cheering them on as they returned – some in under 20 minutes, and many others at a much more languid pace. Young and old, kids and dogs were all welcome on a course that traveled to the Mission Bay Clubhouse and back.

Participants pay $5, and all proceeds benefit Polson’s Loaves and Fishes food bank.

“It’s a great way to get the appetite revved up for today,” said Brenner.

Polson Running sponsors the race, which started off as a more formal, timed event. Organizers decided that the competitive atmosphere wasn’t “in the spirit” of the day, plus they were spending most of Thanksgiving tabulating results.

“So we decided to make it a fun run,” says Brenner. “It’s easier for us and people like it just as much. And the competitive people know their time anyway.”

Tyana Smith, who helped launch the Turkey Trot in 2009, says the event aims to give “normal, nonathletic people an opportunity to get out and walk, run and be out in the fresh cold air,” while raising funds for the food pantry.

“Everybody feels that sense of gratitude on Thanksgiving, so it was just an opportunity for the community to come together and give back all in one,” she said.

Over the past 13 years, the Turkey Trot has raised from $600 to $1,600 and, in years when they collected food donations, generated hundreds of pounds of canned goods.

“The community is very generous,” Smith said.

Runners and walkers come from Polson, Bigfork, Ronan and beyond, and attendance has ranged from 50 to 250 people.

Smith participated in Thursday’s race, and agreed with Brenner that a big benefit comes later in the day, when calculating pie consumption. “So if I warm up and run and cool down, that’s like five pieces of pie,” she said with a grin. “We all just feel better, not quite so lethargic. It’s a totally non-combative way to prepare for the Thanksgiving feast.”

photo

A trio of runners race to the Turkey Trot finish line last Thursday. (Daniel Cadigan)

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