- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 23, 2003

Over the next week, you will notice the area road racing schedule stuffed with races related to Thanksgiving Day.

Turkey trots, turkey runs, turkey burn-offs — all different names but the same idea: You can load up, guilt-free, at the Thanksgiving table only if you shed some calories on the pavement.

But it’s just not true. Think about this while you are running this week. You will burn approximately 500 calories over a 5-mile run, about the same number of calories in a ladle of gravy — before you add the turkey.

(We interrupt this column with a special announcement from the United States Anti-Doping Agency: Turkeys pumped up on growth hormones could cause positive drug tests. Also, USADA is researching whether narcolepsy is prevalent in turkey populations.)

There may be a connection between turkey and narcolepsy. Check it out … don’t you feel sleepy just minutes after Thanksgiving dinner?

Meanwhile, you can flock to the many area road races coming up this week. Here is your guide:

Today is the Mount Airy Locker Co. Run for the Turkey 10K and 5K. Perfect race for those who were not aware Thanksgiving is this week and failed to secure a bird in advance. The race advertises three random prizes of turkeys (weight was not specified, but it would be interesting to award the amount of turkey the same way one race on the West Coast does: The winner earns his or her weight in salmon — imagine the leftovers.)

Thanksgiving Day running causes a dilemma of which race to enter because there are about a dozen in the area. If you are quick enough, you could run a 5K at 8 a.m. in Centreville, Va., then speed to Alexandria for a 5-miler at 10 a.m.

The Centreville event is the 15th Virginia Run Turkey Trot 5K. Note: There’s no race day registration, so you must do so — the cost is $20 — in advance by calling 703/818-0052.

The Alexandria race is the 28th Thanksgiving Day 5-Mile Turkey Trot through Del Ray. You can sign up on race day for only $15 ($10 if you register online today only at pwba.org. Do not forget to bring a mandatory two cans of food).

In Ashburn, Va., you can participate in the 10th Ashburn Farm Thanksgiving Day 10K/5K at 8:30 a.m. The entry fees are $22 for the 10K and $20 for the 5K (703/729-5100).

For those who want to hit the parks in D.C., there is the second Thanksgiving Day Trot for Hunger 3K/5K at Hains Point in East Potomac Park at 8:30 a.m. No race day registration and the cost is $20 (202/797-8806 ext. 1093).

One of the biggest fields will gather in Bethesda for the 21st Turkey Chase 10K at 8:30 a.m. This race has the most expensive entry fee at $23 pre-registration and $30 for race day entry (301/530-8500).

You also could drive 45 minutes north or south to Frederick, Md., or Fredericksburg, Va. In Frederick, there is a Thanksgiving Day 5K at 9 a.m. with an entry fee of $16. Call 301/865-5702 for more information.

In Fredericksburg, there is the 11th Potter Homes Turkey Trot 5K at 9:05 a.m., with cash for the top finishers starting at $100. Entry fee is $18. More information can be found by calling 540/371-0588.

My favorite concept race on Thanksgiving is the HCS Turkey Prediction 10K, brought to us by the Howard County Striders in Columbia, Md. I love this race because even though there is a 9:30 a.m. start time, you can actually begin your race anytime you want. But the catch is this: the winner is the person who gets to the finish line some 6.21 miles later at the stroke of 11 a.m. Anybody, even somebody running 10K in an hour and change, has a shot at the top prize (410/964-1998).

And of course, Thanksgiving week would not be complete without the Montgomery County Road Runners Club Turkey Burnoff 5-Mile & 10-Mile runs Saturday at 10 a.m. in Gaithersburg (301/353-0200).

This race is a deal, free for MCRRC members and just $5 for non-members, through the scenic Seneca Creek State Park course. Race organizers caution that resident deer have been known to participate in this event. No warnings about turkey interference yet.

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