GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado - Last November, after 25 memorable years, the Turkey Day 5K closed the curtains on a highly successful run at the Glenwood Springs Golf Club.
The race was a holiday tradition, a tribute to fitness and a reunion of friends.
To fill the running and social Thanksgiving Day void, enter the new Turkey Trot 5K hosted by the Glenwood Springs Community Center.
Although it featured a different course and location, Turkey Trot race director Steve Vanderhoof's main goal was to keep alive as many of the old race's characteristics as possible.
"It's been such a tradition for the last 25 years. I've been at the golf course running with my family on Thanksgiving since my kids were in a stroller," recalled Vanderhoof. "We're pretty much having the same fare that people are used to, with the turkeys and pumpkin pies."
The new course also offered nice views of the old. About a mile to the north, as the crow flies, the still-green fairways of the Glenwood Springs Golf Club were visible for most of the run.
The Wulfsohn Mountain Park trails, above Glenwood Meadows, served up a main course of hilly terrain and a side dish of outstanding scenery to the 476 runners and 150 walkers who showed up on a sunny Thanksgiving morning to burn a few calories in hopes of damage control for the large portions of food that would enter their bodies a few hours hence.
Burning calories by running very fast is what Kellen Fockler did, to the tune of a 17 minute, 52 second victory in the inaugural Turkey Trot.
Moving so quickly, Fockler probably wasn't able to do much sightseeing.
"I looked at the scenery yesterday when I was running the trails. My parents live just below the community center, so I run up here quite a bit when I'm home. Today, I was just listening for footsteps behind me," said Fockler, who is a Glenwood Springs High School graduate and current track and cross country runner at Metro State College in Denver.
Second place on the day belonged to Steve Glasgow in 18:43. He was followed by Hudson McNamee with a timing of 19:29.
In the ladies division of the race, Robin Severy-Pfautz was crowned the champion. Her time of 22:18 bested Jenny Barsness of Glenwood (22:24), and another Glenwood resident, Sarah Treese (23:31).
Severy-Pfautz likes hills, so the Turkey Trot course suited her well.
"I run the hills pretty well. That's my strength. I just try to maintain on the downhills," said Severy-Pfautz, a former University of Colorado cross country runner who now lives in Carbondale and is a physical therapist in Aspen.
Thanksgiving Day has now given birth to a new holiday tradition for area runners and walkers. If the success of the debut is any indicator, there will be a long and prosperous run for the Turkey Trot, which serves as a fundraiser for the Glenwood Springs High School swim teams.
The final road running event of the 2012 season, the Jingle Bell 5K, will take place beginning at Independence Run and Hike in Carbondale. Sunday, Dec. 23, is the date, with a starting time of 11 a.m.