Julian Gazzelloni, of Windham, makes the final turn toward the finish line at Sunday’s 51st annual Maine Track Club Turkey Trot 5K in Cape Elizabeth. He was the overall champion with a time of 16 minutes, 42 seconds. Courtesy of David Colby Young/Maine Running Photos

Turkeys roost in trees, but they trot on the roads of Cape Elizabeth.

Sunday was another eventful gathering at Cape Elizabeth Middle School as hundreds of runners, many outfitted with Thanksgiving-themed apparel, participated in the 51st edition of the Maine Track Club Turkey Trot 5K. The event is one of the oldest road races in the state and provides assistance to residents throughout the year.

Participants donate thousands of pounds of nonperishable food before tackling the 3.1-mile, hill-and-dale dash through the Cape countryside. The food, collected at both packet pick-up and on race morning, is donated to Wayside Food Programs, a major distributor of surplus food in the Portland area. In addition, the race makes an annual cash donation to Wayside.

“Over the past six years, the Turkey Trot 5K has contributed $31,000 and collected 11,500 pounds of food for Wayside,” said Bruce Rayner, race director Cape Elizabeth resident. “This is the equivalent of serving 22,000 meals to those in need during the holiday season.”

According to the Wayside website, “Wayside has been helping increase access to nutritious food for those in need in Southern Maine since 1986.”

Hunger relief efforts include free weekly community meals, five mobile food pantries, kids’ healthy snacks program, community gardens.

“Through its food rescue program, Wayside diverted 450 tons of edible food from the waste stream in 2018,” the website states. “Rescued food was distributed, free of charge, to 55 partners throughout southern Maine, including food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other social service agencies.”

Wayside Food Programs is the beneficiary of the Maine Track Club Turkey Trot 5K. Daniel King photo

The turkey trot is annually one of the largest 5K fields in the state and, said Rayner, “is committed to recycling and composting onsite, using the services of the Cape Elizabeth Middle School.”

Rayner is founder and chief green officer for Athletes for a Fit Planet, an organization that provides customized environmental consulting and on-the-ground support to organizers of events in North America to help reduce the environmental footprint.

Customers are mostly road and trail races, cycling events and triathlons of all sizes. The client list includes Beach to Beacon 10K, Ragnar Relay Series, Houston Marathon and Maine Marathon.

Rain and temperatures in the low 30s may have dissuaded some registrants from running, but it did not dent the enthusiasm of the nearly 400 hearty pilgrims who finished Sunday’s 5K.

Julian Gazzelloni, of Windham, was the men’s and overall champion in a tidy 16 minutes, 42 seconds. Podium finishes were also posted by Tim Stickney, South Portland (second place, 17:25) and Benjamin Watson, Cape Elizabeth (third place, 17:28).

Portland’s Jasmine Boyle was the women’s champ (19th overall) in 20:30. Rounding out the top three were runner-up was Noelle Maughn of Cape Elizabeth (20:59) followed by Freeport’s Colleen Geaumont (21:07).

In the past six years, the Maine Track Club Turkey Trot 5K has collected 11,500 pounds of food for Wayside Food Programs. Daniel King photo

Kennebunkport’s Tom Fries (19:55) was second in the men’s 30-34 age group while Kennebunk’s Daniel King (22:27) was second in the men’s 55-59 division.

The race was inducted into the Maine Running Hall of Fame in 2014 and has averaged more than 500 finishers in each of the past six years. The men’s and women’s course records are safe for another year. The standards are held by Ethan Hemphill (15:24 in 2004) and Emily Durgin (16:51 in 2016), respectively.

Sponsors of the 2019 Maine Track Club Turkey Trot 5K were Fleet Feet Maine Running, American Family Care Urgent Care, Alewive’s Brook Farm, Jordan’s Farm, Target, Native Water and Pond Cove IGA.

“The race would not be possible without our volunteers and sponsors,” Rayner said. “This year, we had 19 volunteers from Cape Elizabeth High School helping with the kids’ race, staffing the water station, working as flaggers and handing out water at the finish line. The turkey trot is grateful for their support. Thank you to Cape Elizabeth High School for supporting the race.”

For more information about Wayside Food Programs, visit www.waysidemaine.org.

Daniel King is editor/page designer for the Kennebunk Post and South Portland-Cape Elizabeth Sentry. He will usher in the New Year with the Foulmouthed Brewing New Year’s Mile in South Portland.

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