It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without the Hot Chocolate Turkey Trot in Tehachapi. Men, women and children — and their pets — converged at Brite Lake to participate in Tehachapi Valley Recreation & Park District's 5th annual 5k run Saturday morning.
According to Ashley Krempien, recreation coordinator, this year's event saw 135 runners, a slight dip from the 147 of last year.
"This is one of my favorite events of the year," Krempien said. "This is our biggest family event of the year. We get a lot of families coming out to celebrate the pre-Thanksgiving festivities with the run."
Justin Patananam (18:28), of Quartz Hill, was the first male runner to cross the finish line for a third year in a row, with Tim Forthman (19:27), of Tehachapi, taking a close second. Grabbing third place for males was Raphael Velasquez (19:59), of McFarland.
Patananam, 38, said he planned to run a half-marathon Sunday in Bakersfield and a full marathon in two weeks up in northern California.
"I'm going to keep doing this while I can," said Patananam.
Forthman said he has been running in the Turkey Trot every year since its inception.
"Last year, I pushed my daughter, Madeline, in the stroller," said Forthman. "It's real hard to place when you are pushing a stroller."
Velasquez said he often participates in 5k and 10k runs.
"The turkey was my goal," said Velasquez, who was also celebrating his birthday.
Jennifer Hughes (25:38), originally from Chicago, was the first female runner to cross the finish line, with Karina Coghlan (26:05), of Tehachapi, taking second and Christa Whitney (27:18), originally from Tehachapi, but now residing in Riverside, taking third.
"We had just been training for the Monterey marathon, which got canceled because of the air quality," said Hughes, who decided to do the 5k instead. "Big difference. A lot more speed work here."
Coghlan said winning a turkey was her main goal this year, as a return racer.
"This is the first year that I have placed," said Coghlan.
Whitney, 18, said this was her second year to participate in the Turkey Trot, and she took third place last year as well.
New this year was TVRPD's yoga instructor, Danielle Green, who led the runners in a 15-minute stretch prior to the run.
Returning sponsor was CalPortland, with Albertsons donating the turkeys. As with the majority of all runs presented by TVRPD, proceeds go toward the district's youth programs.
Said Krempien, "Last year, we used some of the funds from the Turkey Trot to repair some of the issues that we are having with the (Brite Lake) bathrooms."
The top three males and females each received frozen turkeys again this year. All participants received finishers' medals, swag bags and finishers' mugs full of steaming hot chocolate.
Said Krempien, "It's always a blast to have it out at Brite Lake because of the beautiful scenery and a change of pace from running in the city. We are thrilled to have all these people come out and start their holiday with us."