By Alyssa Carignan, Staff Writer
UMF’s fifth annual Turkey Trot 5k road race is improving its technology this year as more runners within UMF, the Farmington area, and even from hours away are registering and the race is growing.
In its first year, the Turkey Trot had “approximately 50 registered runners,” said Fitness and Recreation Center (FRC) Assistant Director Leah Brackett. “Last year there were 250 registered, we are hoping for 300 this year and so far 70 have already signed up.” The Turkey Trot has been growing steadily over the last five years, “I think people look for it,” said Brackett.
“Some students make it a tradition to do it every year,” Brackett said. “Some students who graduated come back to do it every year with their college friends.”
“This is really a community based event,” Brackett said. The race is gaining much more attention as the years pass; however, Brackett wants it to “remain a community event that people can come to with their families.”
With the increase in participants comes the need for accurate, immediate timing as many of the runners would like to know their time right away.
The company, Run in a Race, will be timing the runners this year, making it much easier than years past. Rather than individually timing each runner, the runners will have a chip on their race number that records the time and allows it to be automatically timed, producing more immediate and efficient race times.
By using this technique, runners will have immediate access to their time rather than waiting for it to get posted by one of the race workers. It will also produce a more accurate race time for each individual. “Hopefully this year will be the first year no one complains we messed up their time,” Brackett said with a smile.
Incorporating this new company and its technology is a benefit to all participating in working and running the race. To help cover costs of the new timing, race fees were raised $5 for adult participants and $2 for student participants.
The registration fee also pays for some sponsored items such as the t-shirts the first 100 registered participants receive for free. Additional earnings are also put towards new equipment and programs in the FRC that would not usually be allowed within their budget. “If we do make money, it helps us buy equipment we can’t usually, something above and beyond our budget would allow,” said Brackett.
There are also many prizes awarded to the Kids Fun Run winners such as donated gift certificates and the winner of each of the seven categories receives a free turkey. UMF students currently enrolled in a gym class can also earn an extra absence in their gym class for running the race.
Many of the students who run the Turkey Trot are staff members of the FRC. “Probably of all UMF students that run the race, the majority of them do work here,” said Brackett. If the students are not running the race individually they will most likely be at the FRC filling other roles such as registering participants, running with the kids in the Fun Run, or with children in the gym area as free child care is offered to participants so they can run.
UMF students who are not employed by the FRC also contribute during race day. The UMF Women’s Soccer team volunteers race day and directs runners throughout the route and shout out times at check points. The UMF Women’s Soccer team is involved because of the FRC’s first practicum student from Community Health who happened to be a member of the team. “If another team wants to volunteer I would gladly accept,” Brackett said.
UMF’s Turkey Trot provides vast opportunities to the students and members of the Farmington community. Brackett emphasized the goal of the race is to remain community based; “we don’t want to do too much marketing because we want this to remain a community event.”
“We look forward to it; we think it’s a really fun event. The staff here really look forward to it too. We get to see old students and its nice here where the community and the students are intertwined so much,” Brackett said.
The 5th Annual Turkey Trot will be held on Nov. 17, 2012, at 10 a.m. at the FRC. The race is a 5k which is 3.1 miles through the Granite Heights neighborhood loop. The race will be held rain or shine. For more information or to register visit http://frc.umf.maine.edu/turkey-trot-5k-road-race/.