The community of Ridgefield hit the pavement on Thanksgiving day during the fifth annual Turkey Trot on Nov. 25. Runners started at Union Ridge Elementary School and participated in either a 5K or 10K race that went across town.
Organizer Georgianna Jones was excited to host the event in-person again, after having to do a virtual Turkey Trot last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Turkey Trot is to raise money for both the Ridgefield Public Schools Foundation and the Ridgefield Family Resource Center,” Jones said. “I don’t know totals (of money raised) yet, but I’m thinking we’ll get around $20,000.”
She said the Ridgefield Public Schools Foundation facilitates different events throughout the year like the Turkey Trot and an annual golf tournament so they can fund grants and scholarships for teachers and students. The foundation was founded in 2009.
Jones worried about what the turnout would be this year because registrations started off slow, but the event eventually garnered 635 pre-registrations, and over 150 people registered on-site. She said the last Turkey Trot had a smaller turnout since it was held virtually and the year before that, around 600 people pre-registered. This year, she said the event had over 200 more people than last time.
“It’s a great family community event, and it’s nice to have people come out and start the day, enjoying our beautiful town and just getting together, especially after the year that we’ve had,” Jones said. “So it’s a fun way to do something good for yourself so that you can go and eat up the rest of the day.”
The trot started at the elementary school and continued along Main Avenue, through Abrams Park, and down to the marina, “so we got a nice view of different spots in Ridgefield along the way and it’s a very scenic route,” Jones said.
Once the participants made their way through the marina, the participants in the 10K ran to the high school and took on some extra hills, before they turned back around to go back to the elementary school.
Eric Valdes, who was assigned the number 678, was the first man to cross the finish line after doing the 10K path.
“It was a great experience,” Valdes said. “It was a little difficult because we did almost seven miles. We nearly got lost, although the signs pointed us in the right path very clearly. It was an early morning, noncompetitive race and went at a good pace. I feel fantastic.”
Valdes said he arrived at the starting line around 7:30 a.m., about an hour and a half before the race started, because he wasn’t sure how intense the race would be. It was his first time running in the Turkey Trot. In the past, Valdes participated in various 5K and 10K races, and his next race will be the upcoming Boston Marathon.
“I’ve qualified and I’m ready to start training,” he said.
Kyle Simmons, another participant, walked in the trot with his two daughters in a stroller. Simmons wore a turkey costume to celebrate the Thanksgiving spirit.
“(I’m here for) trotting and turkeying, of course,” Simmons said. “I’ve been doing it every year that they’ve done this. I like to dress like the turkey and take my kiddos out here and don’t want to exert myself too much because of dinner later.”
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