On a day when turkeys aren't the only things that usually end up stuffed, more than 7,500 runners took to the streets of Naperville for the 16th annual Noon Lions Turkey Trot 5K.
Whether they were running, jogging to even walking the 3.1-mile course, participants Thursday got a chance to burn a few calories before sitting down to their Thanksgiving meals. It's no accident that the race's slogan is "Run fast. EAT LATER. No penalty."
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"This is an incredible event," said Andrew Nelson, 22, of Geneva, who finished first. "I just finished college in May and graduated from Syracuse, where I ran track and cross country. I was fortunate today to have a lot of competition up front to kind of drag me along, and I owe a lot to those around me."
Amanda Mirochna, 26, of Naperville, was the overall top female finisher. "I think my time was between 17:10 and 17:15," said the Neuqua Valley High School graduate, who runs with other family members.
Light winds and temperatures in the mid-20s still made for a somewhat chilly race.
"You never know how many layers you'll need for this race," said Amber Schieve, of Madison, Wis.
"It's cold, but I've been in (races) before where there's been an ice storm the night before and we still ran it," said Mike Wolfsmith of Naperville. "At least the ground is dry. It's cold but it's sunny."
In the days leading up to the race, organizers said more than half of the Turkey Trot participants traditionally come from Naperville and 92 percent live in Illinois. But the race, which began in 1998 with about 300 runners, also attracts competitors from around the country.
Proceeds from the race support charities such as 360 Youth Services, Naperville Cares and Bridge Communities, as well as programs that provide vision, dental and diabetes care for students in Naperville Unit District 203 and Indian Prairie Unit District 204.
Organizers say the race has raised about $170,000 in its 16-year history.