DANVILLE — Some familiar faces finished among the leaders at the 2010 East Knox Lions Club Turkey Trot 5K Run early Saturday morning.
Fredericktown High School cross country and track coach Bob Geiger was the top overall finisher in a field of 62 runners, completing the course with a time of 18:14.
“It’s a lot more competition and a little bit bigger start than the last time I raced here (in 2008),” said Geiger. “We like to run on the trail. We run here a lot. It’s a great place to run.”
Kelly Dobbins of Howard was the top female finisher for the second year in a row.
“It was comfortable,” said Dobbins. “It was a little muddy, but not where you would sink in. It was easy running.”
Nicholas Hill was second overall and third was Mount Vernon High School girls track coach Pat Gray, who was not expecting the race to be so big.
“I was here when this race had only 20 or 30 people,” said Gray. “It was a short out and back and that was it. This year was great. The field has grown so much. They have a nice, two-loop course. Registration was smooth. They have drinks and food, so it’s growing very nicely. It’s nice to see another local race so we don’t have to go to Columbus every year.”
Gray brought a couple of friends along and also ran into a couple of surprises. Sarah Fowler and Sarah Ryan of the Mount Vernon track team also decided to run.
“Well, I hadn’t run in a while so I knew I wasn’t going to get the best time that I usually do,” said Fowler, who had backed off since the end of track season. “It was kind of rough going from gravel to cement — I tried my best.”
For Ryan, the Turkey Trot was her very first 5K. Ryan will join the Mount Vernon cross country team in the fall.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Ryan. “I was really nervous at first. I felt really good doing it. It helps so I don’t get out of shape. I’m going into cross country because I love running.”
“It’s really wonderful,” said John Johnson, who placed first in the over 50 category. “The Lions Club put this on. It’s a beautiful day. It’s a great way to start the morning, and it’s all for a good cause.”
The annual Turkey Trot is seen by some, like Dobbins and Fowler, as an important race, held at an opportune time for track athletes to take that first step in transitioning from the spring track season to cross country, which will start holding practice in July.
“It’s a good bridge to see where you are from track,” said Dobbins, who was joined by her mom. “You can see how you do in three miles and predict how cross country might be. I’m just trying to run a lot more trails and stuff.”
“It kind of gets me into the mode of cross country instead of track,” said Fowler, who placed second among 13- to 19-year-old girls. “I knew I didn’t want to get out of shape for cross country because I didn’t feel like getting back in shape.”
Off the track and on the trail is a bit of an adjustment for everyone.
“It makes it slower,” said Geiger. “It’s nice to change surfaces because you get tired of running on the road all the time. This is actually our favorite place to run, so to race here is pretty neat.”
For one individual, it was a part of a transition to much more.
“I run every day, so running a 5K just continues with my training,” said area resident Jerrod Nyhart, who is an Ohio University graduate and will be leaving for Texas on Tuesday to join the Air Force. “I’ve got to do a lot of running. I’ve got to keep in shape. My job is in imagery analysis for Air Force intelligence. It deals a lot with computers, so I’m excited.”
Nyhart won the 20-29 age group.
Participation in this race in the last four years has grown tenfold, due to the hard work of the East Knox Lions Club, who put on the race every year.
First-year race chairperson Barb Landskroner was pleased with another successful year for the Turkey Trot.
“This is the first year I’ve been involved with it but our entire group just does a fantastic job,” said Landskroner. “I’m just so glad to be a part of it and see it grow even more. We decided to have preregistration and registration tables, and we had signs up so they could tell where to go and that helped out. Preregistration is great because it really gets things moving.”
The fact that there were over 60 runners was a positive development as well.
“The bigger field was good because they push you along, too,” said Dobbins. “First, you try to catch the girls and then you try to see who else you can catch. It just keeps you going faster and faster. It’s better than running by yourself.”
“This is a nice, relaxed, laid back small-town race,” said Gray. “It’s a good one to help kick off the summer.”