Glenwood’s Turkey Day 5K draws 375 participants
Post Independent correspondent
Mother Nature and the running Gods decided to cooperate a little more than what was expected for the 375 runners and walkers who gathered on Thanksgiving morning at the Glenwood Springs Golf Course for the 33rd annual Turkey Day 5K.
The undulating fairways on “The Hill” did sport a slippery glazing of snow for the race’s 10 a.m. start, but the wet weather that had been predicted was thankfully replaced by hints of sunshine under partly cloudy skies.
In the days leading up to the traditional community gathering, race director Steve Vanderhoof wondered if the snow and cold weather — and the gloomy forecast — would cause a decline in the number of participants willing to show up and brave the chill and winter-like conditions.
“Our pre-registration numbers were down a little bit as of Tuesday,” Vanderhoof said. “Things turned out just fine this morning with the weather, though. Everyone in this community, from the sponsors to the runners and walkers always say ‘yes’ to this race. It’s a great day for all involved.”
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It was certainly a great day for Steve Cuttitta from Park City, Utah. Cuttitta, who is a high school cross country coach, crossed the finish line first in 17 minutes, 28 seconds, to claim the overall race victory.
Former Glenwood Springs High School track and cross country standout Gavin Harden placed second overall with a time of 17:48. Harden now runs at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.
In third place from New Castle was Wesley Toews with a time of 17:54. Glenwood Middle School seventh grade phenom Bennie Swanson took fourth place at 19:13, and in fifth place was Dean Frankel with a time of 19:21.
The day’s big winner for the ladies was Basalt’s Amy Rollins, who made it through the snowy fields to the finish line in 20:42. Glenwood High School math teacher Anne Swanson, who was running in her first-ever Turkey Day 5K, recorded a time of 22:22 for a runner-up finish for the women. After living in Glenwood for many years, Swanson was happy to finally be able to make it to the annual Thanksgiving Day run at the golf course.
“I ran hard. I pushed myself, but mostly I was just happy to be a part of this day and see so many familiar faces,” Swanson said.
Taia Nykerk, an eighth grader at Glenwood’s Riverview School, came in third for the women. Tobie Powell and Erica Cuttitta rounded out the top five places for the ladies.
As is always the case each year at the Turkey Day 5K, many old friends and familiar faces dotted the starting line and the fairways of the golf course. Some were new to the experience, but many represented the old guard who make the run a Thanksgiving tradition.
Glenwood Springs High School track coach Blake Risner and his wife Nancy are annual participants in the Turkey Day 5K, and they more often than not hang around until the late afternoon hours to visit with old friends before heading home to their second celebration of the day.
“This race has always been such a great family tradition for us,” Risner said. “Even though I’m not really a distance runner, I coach runners, and being a part of this event on Thanksgiving Day helps tie us into the running community in a fun way.”
On the day, six turkeys and six hams were cooked up for the runners by Mike Moser and Doug Meyers. The two race chefs also deep fried a ham for local Glenwood police officers who were on duty during the day.
All proceeds from the Turkey Day 5K will go to help the Glenwood High School swim and cross country running teams.
The last local running race for 2019 will be the Jingle Bell 5K, which will take place on Sunday, Dec. 22, in Carbondale at Independence Run and Hike.
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Since most golf courses are private entities, operators have been working with local public health officials to enact safety protocols if they decide to remain open.