By Aiesha Solomon
People of all ages are invited to participate in Laurel Advocacy and Referral Service’s 18th annual Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning, Nov. 24, at McCullough Field.
“We have kids who will come and ride their bikes. We’ll see mom[s] and daughters running or dads and sons and daughters running. It truly is a family event. We have some of our senior citizens who will run. We have senior citizens who will walk,” said Shannon Mouton, executive director of LARS.
Past races averaged about 800 runners, but around 1,000 are expected for this coming Turkey Trot, according to Audrey Vaught, manager of supportive housing at LARS. The first 800 5K finishers will receive a medal, and all runners will get blankets and pouches. A sleepwalker option is for “people [who] don’t even want to get out of their bed, they can just pay the fee,” Vaught said.
According to Mouton, money raised from the Turkey Trot and its sponsorships helps fund various LARS programs, including emergency services, the organization’s supportive housing program and its self-sufficiency program.
“Our food pantry, which is the largest in the city of Laurel, is open five days a week. You come to get groceries, you get groceries. Period,” Mouton said. “You can also get fresh fruits and vegetables as well as meat and frozen goods. And we also have ethnic foods.”
Mouton wants to make the Turkey Trot accessible to everyone.
“I really want to make sure that next year we can do a big push to get people who may not have two legs can still participate,” Mouton said. “If people are running on different kinds of apparatus, that the terrain is acceptable for them, that the course is good for them. And then also looking at those who may be in different kinds of wheelchairs or other sorts of [mobility] devices.”
Dot Brownlie, secretary of the LARS board of directors, said the event allows people to see places in Laurel that they have not been to before. The course starts at McCullough Field and goes through parts of older Laurel before circling back to McCullough Field.
People can register prior to the event or on the morning of the race. The trot starts at 8 a.m.
This year’s trot includes a new feature, a pre-race singing competition, Laurel’s Got Talent. Participants will post their singing video on Instagram, and the winner with the most likes on their video will sing the National Anthem on Thanksgiving to kick off the race. More instructions for the competition can be found at LARS Instagram.
To register for the Turkey Trot, go to .laureladvocacy.org/turkeytrot
“Come expecting to have a lot of fun,” Mouton said.