- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 21, 2004

One of the true joys of Thanksgiving week is that most of us have Thursday off from work. That gives us an extra day to run this week, with no excuses.

For most of us, it is pretty safe to say that if you slip out for a couple of hours in the morning, you won’t be missed. Who eats Thanksgiving breakfast?

A slew of medical studies have concluded that exercising in the morning is very positive, especially since your metabolism continues to stay high for hours after exertion.

So while you are (a) sitting on the couch watching football, (b) sitting in a bar watching football or (c) driving all afternoon to somebody’s house to watch football, you still can be burning calories.

But first you must run. Sure, you could go out alone and run your typical everyday boring route. Or you could join hundreds of fellow runners at any of a number of events covering a variety of distances on Thanksgiving Day.

In the metropolitan area, you can find plenty of 5Ks and 10Ks on Thursday, plus several 1- and 2-mile fun runs. And if you wait until after Thanksgiving, you can find races as long as a marathon.

Turkey race hunting season begins today with the Cold Turkey 10K at South River High School in Edgewater, Md., at 8:30 a.m. This Annapolis Striders race is in its 10th year, according to race director Donna Cogle.

This race should be called the Frozen Turkey 10K because Cogle said 30 rock-hard 10- to 15-pound turkeys will be given out on the spot to all five-year age group winners. Bring your cooler if you expect to win. This event is a steal at $15 on race day, with the first 200 entrants receiving a T-shirt.

Then fast forward to Thursday, and the schedule is as crammed as you feel after a huge holiday feast.

The longest-running event has to be the 10 a.m. Thanksgiving Day 5-Mile Turkey Trot, in its 29th year. The Alexandria neighborhood race is sponsored by the Potomac West Business Association, the D.C. Road Runners Club and the City of Alexandria.

The run begins and ends at Cora Kelly School and treks through the Del Ray section of Alexandria. Race-day entry is just $15, but you must pay extra for the T-shirt. And don’t forget to bring two cans or boxes of nonperishable food to support the nonprofit organization, ALIVE Inc. For information, call 703/683-4815, ext. 203.

The next-longest area race is the 8:30 a.m. Bethesda Turkey Chase 10K, in its 22nd year. This race starts and ends at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase YMCA, which is a sponsor. This race is much pricier at $30 on race day, $23 beforehand, but for that you get a “retro” collector’s T-shirt, according to race officials.

There also is a two-mile walk/run. For information, call 301/530-8500.

Two Virginia suburban races are on the Thanksgiving schedule. The 8:15 a.m. Ashburn Farm 10K and 5K has very scenic — in other words, hilly — courses but is pretty well organized with more than 1,000 participants.

Registration is $25 for the 5K and $30 for the 10K. Both races, and an accompanying two-mile fun run, are staged out of Crossroads United Methodist Church. For information, call 703/729-5100.

The other Northern Virginia race is the 8 a.m. Virginia Run 5K in Centreville, in its 16th year. The event benefits Life With Cancer, a non-profit cancer support program of Inova Hospital System. The entry fee is $22 but note there is no race-day registration. ChampionChip owners receive a $2 discount. The race is part of the RacePacket Grand Prix Series. For information, contact 703/818-0052.

Further down the road, there is the 10 a.m. Fredericksburg Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot 5K (757/373-4174).

In downtown Washington, you can find the SOME Trot for Hunger 5K in West Potomac Park. The beneficiary is So Others May Eat, a non-profit organization aiding the homeless (202/797-8806, ext, 1093).

In Maryland, there is the HCS Thanksgiving Turkey Trot 10K prediction run in Columbia (410/730-4499) and the Way Station 5K in Frederick 301/662-0099, ext. 1756).

On Saturday, you can find the MCRRC Turkey Burnoff 5- and 10-Milers in Seneca State Park in Gaithersburg (301/353-0200).

And of course, if you want major turkey burn, sign up for the Northern Central Trail Marathon in Sparks, Md. (410/377-7327).

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