More than 2,400 runners took part in the 31st annual YMCA Thanksgiving Day Run. (Leader photo/AMELIO RODRIGUEZ)

Archived Story

Record number of runners hit the streets

Published 9:08am Friday, November 23, 2012

The 31st annual First Source Bank Niles-Buchanan YMCA Thanksgiving Day Run was held Thursday morning as 2,443 runners representing 27 different states and two countries put their feet to the pavement to support the Y.CA’s youth scholarship program.

Event organizers were overjoyed as this year’s installment of the trot was successful on a historical level, as it had both more runners and raised more money than any of the 30 events that had preceded it.

“This means everything to the Y, we have this beautiful facility that’s a community building and it nice to see the community come out and support it,” said event director Doris Higgins.

As the event has grown over the years, it has garnered itself quite the following in the running community. Though there were many people who were participating in their first turkey run ever, the majority of the field was filled with seasoned turkey day vets. Including Jeffery Saylor, who is the proprietor of Saylor’s Pizza Port in Niles.

“This is a new family tradition for us,” Saylor said. “This is a great way to give back to a community that has given so much, especially when you get to do something you enjoy doing. I’ve done this for three years and I have improved every year. I look forward each year to coming and running with my wife.”

Minnesota's Ben Jacobs won both the 10K and 5K races at the Thanksgiving Day Run Thursday morning. (Leader photo/AMELIO RODRIGUEZ)

Along with the more casual runners, the Thanksgiving Day Run attracts some of the top marathon enthusiasts in the country because the 10K race earns individual runner points towards the national circuit. With enough race points, a runner could qualify for some of the bigger marathon races in the country.

Minneapolis’ Ben Jacobs came to Niles for that very reason and wound up literally running away with the show. He won the 10K with a time of 33:07 as well as winning the 5K with a time of 16:07.

“It’s a really good race, there are always a lot of good guys and I like coming to race here,” Jacobs said. “This is something I love doing and I get to help kids in the process, it’s a win-win.”

Jennifer Brake of South Bend was the top women finisher in the 10K with a time of 41:05, while Niles’ own Madeline Rodts was the first women to finish in the 5K at 18:50.

“This thing has been going for 31 years and it just seems to get bigger and bigger. We had over 200 volunteers, without whom this thing couldn’t function, and the participant numbers are up, it’s just awesome,” said race director Mark Weber. “This is all about helping kids. It probably helps that people who ran won’t have to feel guilty when it comes time to eat tonight.”

In all, the YMCA expects to have raised over $30,000 dollars to go towards helping kids who wouldn’t ordinarily be able to afford a membership attain one.

“You can just take one look around this place and see that the spirit of Thanksgiving is alive and well in this community,” Weber said. “I’m extremely thankful of that.”



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