BRADENTON -- Some came for a serious run. Others came for some serious fun.
An estimated 800 runners turned out for the 15th annual Turkey Trot, a five-mile run that starts at the gates of the De Soto National Memorial and winds through the neighborhood streets of northwest Bradenton.
The massive Thanksgiving Day turnout was the largest in the event's history. Last year, 560 runners took part.
Run founder Gary Algozzine noted that the inaugural run had only about a dozen runners. As recently as 2008, organizers were pleased to attract 300.
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"We had some great runners here today," said Algozzine, a pharmacist.
Chief among them was Joshua Sanchez, who led all runners with a time of 25 minutes, 12 seconds, averaging about five minutes a mile.
Sanchez, a Manatee High School graduate, also won the Turkey Trot in 2008 with a time of 27 minutes, 11 seconds.
Rae Ann Darling Reed led all women with a time of 33 minutes, 46 seconds.
"The serious runners can
really race if they want to and we can still keep it fun for the families," Algozzine said. "We don't turn anyone away."
Among those not going for the gold was Andrew White, who ran the course in a turkey costume.
It seemed like the thing to do in the spirit of the day, White said.
Lakewood Ranch High School grads Richard Wheeler and Alec Bacon ran carrying the Navy Jack flag.
Both are midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy.
The Turkey Trot, organized by the Bradenton Runners Club, appeals to many runners because it has no registration fee.
This year, runners were charged one dollar to cover the cost of portable toilets, but anything left over was donated to the Manatee Food Bank. Runners were also asked to bring a food item.
"Every year it seems to grow. It's a great kickoff to the holiday season," Algozzine said.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee editor, can be contacted at 941-745-7021 or tweet @jajones1.