“We’re so proud that we can get around 6,000 runners and walkers to come out on a day known for overeating,” said Turkey Trot race director Glenn Behnke. “There are some people that are lightning fast, and they’ll come back in 15 minutes. But what’s really cool is to see kids and they’re running or even being pushed in a stroller and families walking.”
Prior to gobbling down a turkey dinner, runners are flocking to Naperville Central early Thanksgiving morning for the Turkey Trot 5k, hosted by the Naperville Noon Lions.
25th Turkey Trot
It’s a milestone year for the Trot, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Much has changed over the past 25 years, as Behnke looks back at the first event, which featured race time postcards, baggage tags to certify racers and an unexpected surge of participants.
“So I wasn’t in the (Noon Lions) then, but my friends said you’ve got to go run this race because they don’t have anybody signed up,” said Behnke. “They thought they would get 200 people or something. It was a beautiful day, and the (Noon Lions) were taking money. All these people showed up.
To celebrate the 25th anniversary, the Noon Lions have a gift for racers who have made this a yearly tradition.
“We’ve made some stickers to highlight those people who have been in the race for over 20 years,” said Behnke. “And there’s 23 people who have that designation.”
Past Turkey Trots have treated racers to rain or snow, but Behnke and the Noon Lions are hoping for clear skies come Thanksgiving morning.
“We’ve done this for so many years that now we know what to do and it works out much easier,” said Behnke. “We’re just looking for that 70 degree Thanksgiving Day. We haven’t had it yet, but we’re hopeful.”
Work Before the Trot
Before the race kicks off, there’s still lots to do. Turkey Trot organizers and local volunteers have set up shop in the basement of the Naperville Running Company, dividing up over 6,500 shirts and bibs for racers. It’s work with a rewarding payoff.
The Naperville Noon Lions donate all proceeds raised during the Turkey Trot to help Naperville seniors and children receive hearing and vision care they cannot afford.
They also help organizations which support veterans and agencies fighting homelessness and hunger.
“All of the funds that we raise, we give back to the community,” said Behnke. “And it’s kept growing and it gets better and better each time.”
And Behnke hopes this year that will hold true when participants take their spots for the 8 a.m. start at Naperville Central High School.
“Every little kid we see gets a ribbon, so they can show off to grandma and grandpa that they did this. So we love encouraging the young people to do that. And for people to come out, run, walk and just have a good time.”
Naperville News 17’s Will Payne reports.
If you have a story idea, we want to hear from you!