Runners work up a Thanksgiving appetite at Naperville Turkey Trot

  • Runners step off from the start/finish line at the Naperville Turkey Trot Thanksgiving morning.

      Runners step off from the start/finish line at the Naperville Turkey Trot Thanksgiving morning. Katlyn Smith/dailyherald.com

  • "It's amazing, all of these folks," Kent Peterson, with his son, Danny, said of the generation-spanning field of runners at Naperville's Turkey Trot.

      "It's amazing, all of these folks," Kent Peterson, with his son, Danny, said of the generation-spanning field of runners at Naperville's Turkey Trot. Katlyn Smith/dailyherald.com

  • The Turkey Trot is the largest fundraiser for the Naperville Noon Lions Club.

      The Turkey Trot is the largest fundraiser for the Naperville Noon Lions Club. Katlyn Smith/dailyherald.com

 
 
Updated 11/28/2019 2:07 PM

Getting up early on Thanksgiving morning to dress up as a turkey and run 3 miles in Naperville actually makes a lot more sense than putting oysters in your dressing.

Serious runners will say they lace up their shoes for the annual Turkey Trot to work up an appetite for an indulgent holiday feast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

But the more logical explanation? To paraphrase Elle Woods, exercise gives you endorphins; endorphins make you happy, and happy people don't cook dry turkeys.

The endorphins were practically contagious at the 5K race, as much a Naperville tradition as a friendly costume competition raising funds for the Naperville Noon Lions Club.

A sampling of the race-day attire: A couple dressed as a shiny utensil set, a pack of shirtless guys and, for some reason, a man in a banana suit. Pumpkin pie hats topped with a dollop of whip cream and roasted turkey caps were, by far, the most popular apparel choice.

For the second year, Naperville father and son Kent and Danny Peterson returned to the Turkey Trot to get in some exercise -- in matching pilgrim hats -- before their meal. Later, the proud dad will savor his son's "world famous championship banana pudding" after hitting the pavement with thousands of runners.

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Terry Wade isn't a runner. But the Turkey Trot is a family ritual. This year, a "whole crew" representing about a quarter of the 50 people in town for Thanksgiving gathered at the start/finish line behind Naperville Central High School.

"I come for the Irish bar at the end," Wade said of his post-race reward, a cold Guinness, at Quigley's Irish Pub downtown.

When a fellow runner pointed out another competitor in a head-to-toe turkey costume, Wade said his was superior: "Mine is eight years old. Come on."

City Councilwoman Patty Gustin led the countdown to the start at 8 a.m., greeting the crowd with a "Good morning, Naperville!" in a booming voice that would have made the late Mayor George Pradel proud.

The first group of runners to sprint past the finish line were flying better than the wobbly balloons in Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Nolan McKenna, a 24-year-old from Wheaton, led all the men, finishing the course through the downtown with a time of 14:40. Ryan Root and Tyler Jermann came in second and third place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Katy Jermann, 27, of Burnsville, Minn., was the first woman to finish, at 16:11, followed by Amber White and Jennifer Bertucci.

Almost 6,800 participants registered for the 22nd annual Turkey Trot, slightly down from last year's numbers, organizers said.

"We really gear it toward families," Lions Club board member Maria Wilson said. "And as the kids grow, they run with the parents, and then as they go away to school, they come back and run with the family. Then when they have kids of their own, everybody runs together."

The race raises between $175,000 and $200,000 for Lions Club programs to provide hearing and vision care for people in need.

"We're very grateful to the Naperville community for supporting this effort so well," Wilson said.

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