Thousands of people extended their Thanksgiving family time from the dining room to the race track at State Fair Park, and turned a lap on the one-mile oval as part of the inaugural Drumstick Dash.
They combined their sweat and generosity to help build the food supplies at Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin. The turnout of more than 2,600 participants, which made the Dash one of the largest Thanksgiving runs in Wisconsin, far exceeded expectations, said Bonnie Bellehumeur, president of the local charity.
“We feed a lot of families, so it’s good to have families donating food and helping,” she said. “We’re hoping to double the numbers for next year.”
Most of the runners and walkers made the 5K outing the start line of their family Thanksgiving celebration. Moms and Dads raced their children, or pulled them in strollers.
Belinda Matter, of Sussex, chased her daughter, Michelle, for the first mile, then dropped back and let the Ripon College runner race to victory in the women’s division.
“It was a lot of fun,” Michelle said, while catching her breath. “I especially liked racing the turkey. I didn’t pass him until the last mile. This was a great way to burn off the turkey we’re going to eat later.”
Chasing the turkey on this Thanksgiving was no easy task. The man in the costume was Nick Seiske, from Waukesha, who has a 2:40 marathon and a number of sub 17-minute 5Ks on his results list. Even in costume, he was close to 20 minutes for the 5K on Thursday.
The big crowd running and walking through State Fair Park included visitors who traveled to join in their new family’s holiday feast.
Kimberly McQuire, an attorney from Houston, knocked out the 5K before joining her boyfriend, Ben Chojnacki, for his family gathering in South Milwaukee.
“It was so cool to be running on the track, ” McQuire said.
Sue Saller, of Milwaukee, brought her already extended family, three-year-old triplets Joy, Grace and Hope. In a day of sharing, they found a number of people willing to share the effort, helping to push and pull the girls over the finish line.
“It was a great way to start our Thanksgiving,” Sue said.