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AEDC Turkey Trot draws dozens of participants looking for some pre-holiday fun

  • Published
  • By Bradley Hicks
  • AEDC Public Affairs

At Arnold Air Force Base, the tightening of shoelaces comes before the stuffing of faces.

Cardio comes before the cranberry sauce. Sweat is broken before any wishbone. The finish line is crossed well before the holiday chow line is formed.

A longstanding pre-Thanksgiving tradition at Arnold drew dozens of Arnold personnel and members of their families together for a day of exercise, fun and camaraderie.

The 37th annual Arnold Engineering Development Complex Turkey Trot was Nov. 9 at the Arnold Lakeside Complex. The event was hosted by the Company Grade Officers’ Council at Arnold.

“The tradition of the Turkey Trot is important because it has been going on for 37 years and it is something people look forward to,” said 1st Lt. Camden Dammeyer, a CGOC member who led the organization of the race. “We had people wearing their old Turkey Trot shirts from the early 2000s. We are glad to add to Arnold’s history with this event.”

The 5K race drew a flock of runners competing not only for the right to call themselves the AEDC Turkey Trot champion, but also to take home the top prize – a frozen turkey to serve as the centerpiece of a Thanksgiving feast.

These trotters were joined by several walkers who sought to enjoy the autumn scenery around the ALC and setting sun over Woods Reservoir at a more leisurely pace. In all, around 50 walkers and runners participated.

“I was very happy with the turnout,” Dammeyer said. “It was my first time putting something like this together, and it seemed to run pretty smooth. The runners were happy, too. It was a beautiful day, and we even had extra people that didn’t sign up show up last-minute because of it.”

This marked the fourth consecutive year the longstanding event has been held at the ALC since its relocation from the Arnold AFB mission area. From the starting line outside the ALC, runners bolted through the parking lot. From there, they headed for a path that took them toward the Arnold Village community. Just before entering the neighborhood, the runners turned onto a trail that led them around the back of the ALC and along Woods Reservoir. The route then took participants through Arnold Village and back to the finish line at the ALC.

A pair of newcomers to Arnold and first-time Turkey Trot participants managed to outpace the competition to each claim a much-coveted frozen turkey.

2nd Lt. Patrick Robbins, a test manager who’s been at Arnold around three months as of mid-November, finished first among male runners with a time of 20 minutes 18 seconds. Anna Burger, a test engineer who has been employed at Arnold just shy of three months as of the Turkey Trot, placed first among female runners with a time of 23 minutes 58 seconds.

Both Robbins and Burger are recreational runners. They agreed the Turkey Trot was a great way to get folks together to share in some fun ahead of the fall holiday.

“It’s an awesome event just to get everyone together and see everyone outside of the workplace,” Robbins said.

“It’s good to see people who aren’t in my group that I don’t normally see,” Burger added. “And I really liked all of the foliage. It’s pretty.”

So new to Arnold are Robbins and Burger that both were surprised when they received an actual frozen turkey for their first-place finishes.

“I wasn’t expecting a turkey, but it’s a really fun event,” Robbins said. “It’s a cool prize.”

“The frozen turkey is new,” Burger said. “I haven’t seen that before. It’s fun.”

Then there was the matter of deciding what to do with the birds.

“I think maybe I’ll hold a big ‘Friendsgiving’ and invite a bunch of people over or find a place to donate it,” Robbins said following the race.

“Yeah, either that or I’ll give it to my mom,” Burger said.

Both Robbins and Burger intend to participate in next year’s race to defend their Turkey Trot crowns.

“I’ll be back for, hopefully, another turkey next year,” Robbins said.

“I’m gunning for it now,” Burger said of the top prize.

The first Turkey Trot took place in 1985, quickly becoming a yearly tradition at Arnold AFB, the headquarters of AEDC.

Since its inception, the Turkey Trot has benefited local families in need. There was no fee for those taking part in the event, but runners and walkers were asked to bring a nonperishable food item for donation. The food collected this year was donated to the Thanksgiving Basket Program organized by the Junior Force Council Booster Club at Arnold AFB.

In recent years, organizers have extended participation in the Turkey Trot to the families of Arnold team members.

“The Turkey Trot is important because it gets families involved,” Dammeyer said. “Thanksgiving is all about family and having them involved makes sure everyone feels like they belong. This event gives Arnold a sense of community, which is valuable to everyone who works here.”

And Dammeyer indicated changes could be in store for the 38th annual Turkey Trot.

“Next year, we are hoping to have an even bigger turnout and maybe have a costume contest with prizes,” she said.

Dammeyer expressed her appreciation for those who helped make this year’s Turkey Trot possible.

“I had the absolute greatest volunteers and would like to thank 1st Lt. Paul McCormack, Tyler Swann, 1st Lt. Adam Doyle, Daniel Epperson, Paula Lyle, Michelle Cox, Nathan Franklin, 2nd Lt. Patrick Robbins and Capt. Michael Moline,” she said. “I’d also like to thank everyone else involved in helping me along the way. They were all such a huge help.”