Keeping with tradition, Tehachapi Valley Recreation & Park District held its annual Hot Chocolate Turkey Trot as a precursor to the Thanksgiving holiday Saturday morning.
Now in its sixth year, the community friendly 5k run featured approximately 140 participants. The runners were greeted by a brisk, windy morning at the start of the timed event, which led them around Brite Lake.
"We are super excited to have all the families out here today because we have hot chocolate, and AltaOne is out here giving away cool stuff to all our runners," said Ashley Krempien, TVRPD recreation supervisor. "Even though it's cold, we are out here having a lot of fun."
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.
Coming in first place was Daniel Hernandez (19:25), of Rosamond. This is the first year Hernandez has participated in the 5k event.
Asked what plans he has for his prize turkey, Hernandez said, "I'm going to cook it myself. It's going to be my first turkey."
Living in Rosamond, Hernandez said, the elevation difference played a key factor in his performance.
Said Hernandez, "It was much harder sucking in the air."
Coming in second place for men was Raphael Velasquez (19:57), of McFarland, who upped his game from last year's third-place finishing.
Asked what he planned to do with his prize turkey, Velasquez pointed at his wife and said, "She is going to cook it, and I'm going to EAT IT!"
Alexander Patananam (20:02), of Quartz Hill, took third place this year.
Karina Coghlan (23:30), of Tehachapi, also improved her time by nabbing first place this year.
"That really feels good," said Coglan, who came in second place last year.
Asked what she plans on doing with her prize turkey, Coglan laughed and said, "I'm going to let my family feast on my victory!"
Taking second place was Chloe Drehsen (24:50), of Tehachapi.
"At first the cold and the wind got to me, but as I got warmer, it was OK," said the Heritage Oak Charter School student.
Winning the final turkey by coming in third place for women was Kim Lackner (25:17).
Participants included family groups, parents pushing babies in strollers, runners with their pets and a few long-distance travelers.
"She is going to run with her mom, so there is no chance we are going to win," laughed Daphne Wong, of Lancaster, who participated in the event for a first time along with her daughter, Allison Wong.
Greeting the runners as they crossed the finish line were beauty queens of the Kern County court.
Asked how important it is for Kern County queens to attend community functions such as the Hot Chocolate Turkey Trot, Abagail Tapia, Miss Preteen Golden State International 2019, said, "It is very important because it not only shows our commitment, but it also shows how caring we are to the community."
Sponsor for this year's event was AltaOne Federal Credit Union, with Albertsons donating the turkeys. As with the majority of all runs presented by TVRPD, proceeds go toward the district's youth programs.