Turkey trot in step with charity

Early morning Thanksgiving Day run helps to raise funds for medical research

Baltimore & Region


Makenzie Frieman, 7, and her sister Emily, 5, waited eagerly for their mother to round the corner in the last leg of the 23rd annual Green Valley Turkey Trot yesterday morning.

"Where is she?" Makenzie, craning her neck to look, asked her father.

Her mother, Toni Frieman, decided to run the 5-mile race to prepare for a relay leg in next year's Baltimore Marathon. After the race, she planned to go to her Reisterstown home and start cooking Thanksgiving dinner, glad to begin the day with a good run.

"The hills were a killer," Toni Frieman said, referring to the race route near Owings Mills, often too narrow for a car to squeeze past runners.

Frieman was one of 1,200 people who spent their Thanksgiving morning running, walking or chatting not far from the home of Morton Hyatt, a co-founder of the annual event.

Hyatt said this year's event raised $50,000 for research on chronic digestive intestinal disorders like colitis or Crohn's disease, much of which will be split between the University of Maryland and the Johns Hopkins University, he said.

Hyatt has become a fairly well-known - and tireless - promoter of the annual event, always urging runners one year to bring another person the next year.

The event began as an informal Thanksgiving run in 1983 with a few friends who raised $325 and had breakfast in his kitchen. From there, it blossomed year after year into a popular fundraising event, usually attended by Maryland politicians and Orioles Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson.

"The guys that I run with make a bet on how long it will take me before I start to cry," Hyatt said. "It's just so overwhelming to think about when you consider how we began with just eight people."

Running events to benefit charity on Thanksgiving - often called turkey trots - were also held in other parts of Maryland and throughout the nation yesterday. Most runners and walkers at the Baltimore County event said they thought it was a great way to begin Thanksgiving, especially since the proceeds from the race go to charity.

Jessica Kleeman, 12, her sister Emma, 10, and Adam Gilfix, 10, completed the race together. Jessica and Emma, of Owings Mills, walked three miles and Adam ran in the 5-mile competition, proudly noting that he was the first child to finish the race. "It was a good walk," said Jessica, who completed her second Turkey Trot. "I want to keep doing it because I like to get the exercise, and I like for it to help people."

Adam also thought the hills were tough, but he managed to finish the 5-mile race in 40 minutes. He often runs for events in his hometown of Boston, his parents said, and he trains at a fitness club they own.

"I love to run," he said. "And I really wanted to try the five miles."

Paul Hollinger, 67, of Pikesville said he enjoyed the walk but often had to contend with his wife, State Sen. Paula C. Hollinger, who walks faster than him.

"It's a very honorable way to spend the day, helping a good cause," he said. "We're always happy to participate. We've been doing it for the past 15 years. I used to run but I wore out all the cartilage in my knees."

Susannah Nichols, 25, came to the race from Detroit to participate in the event with her father, Harwood Nichols, 63, of Glyndon. Susannah Nichols is fresh off running the Detroit marathon and saw the turkey trot as a good way to keep herself motivated about running.

"It was great to get up, get out and work out," she said.

Said Harwood Nichols: "It's such a slug-like week with the eating and the football. It's so wonderful to kick it off with something to get your heart rate up."


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