Hot to Trot?

Create a new Thanksgiving tradition for your family.

    It's 8 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day. The turkey is roasting; the pumpkin pie awaits. But it will be hours before the table is set. So what's a fun-loving family to do? Why not hit the ground running (or walking)? Hundreds of Lowcountry residents and their families are doing just that: participating in the annual Piggly Wiggly Turkey Trot, raising money for the Island Recreation Association and making room for seconds at the family feast.
    According to The Rec Center's special events director, Joe Cain, the Turkey Trot started out 20 years ago with somewhere between 150 and 200 runners. It has grown each year, reaching its capacity of 1,300 last year. "We can't take any more than that because of safety issues," he said.
    The popularity of the Turkey Trot is no surprise, because there is literally something for everybody, Cain said. "Those who want to run it for time can. But at the same time, it's very family oriented. Grandma and Grandpa can take the kids on a fun walk; Dad can run a 10k; teens can participate in the 5K." And some will come out just to get the shirt! According to Cain, the long-sleeve shirts with the Piggly Wiggly logo on front and fun design on the back are immensely popular and rabidly sought after.

It's a family affair
    For The Rec Center's office manager, Karin Condame, attending the Turkey Trot started out as part of her job, but it has since become something her family eagerly anticipates. This will be Karin's eleventh year volunteering at the front entrance. When she got married eight years ago, her husband, Tom, who is a chef, "kind of naturally took over the after party," she said. "It's simple stuff like oranges and chips, but he places the orders and handles the management of it."
    When Karin married Tom, he had two daughters, Annalisa and Jeannelle. Since then, the Condames have added two boys, T.J., now four years old and Chris, age two. The girls, who come up from Florida every year for the Thanksgiving holiday, have grown up participating in the Thanksgiving Day race.
    "I have been going to the Turkey Trot every year since I can remember," said 16-year-old Annalisa. "We always wake up early and go get the food ready for the runners and then go do the fun walk or the 5K, depending on how cold it is. One year, when my younger brother, T.J., was still a baby, we walked the 5K with him in a stroller. The turkey trot is such a great tradition. I have a blast every year."
     According to Karin, the whole family has participated every Thanksgiving, with the exception of the year Chris was born. He was three weeks old, so he and mom stayed home while the rest of the Condames participated, as always. Last year, one of the runners took Chris on the race in his stroller.
"It's a family tradition to get up at 5 a.m. and to go out to the Turkey Trot and then go home and sleep for a couple of hours," said Karin.
    "For people coming down to visit their family for Thanksgiving, it's part of the trip," said Rec Center board member, Mike Manesiotis. The Manesiotis family, including kids, cousins, uncles and in-laws, has been a part of the event since its inception. "Most of us go out and stand there and watch the runners. They serve beer really early in the morning, and my father-in-law really likes that," said Mike.
    Mike's three teenagers (Mike, Sarah and Jack), all serious runners, are into the competitive aspect of the event. But many participants are there just for fun, he said. "It's a family event. You'll see people with strollers and people walking."
    According to Mike, it's worth attending just to be a part of the social scene. "Even if you don't want to run, you can come out and you will see everybody you know. It's a community happening," he said.

Make room for an extra slice of pumpkin pie
    The 20th annual Piggly Wiggly Turkey Trot will be held Thanksgiving morning, November 27, at 8 a.m. Races include a 5k, 10k and fun walk, beginning and ending at the Boathouse II parking lot near the back entrance of Hilton Head Plantation. The after party will be held at the Boathouse II restaurant. Trophies are awarded in all age groups.
    According to Cain, a few changes this year will make the race better than ever. "We have added the 70 and older age group this year. On the young side, we changed up the age groups (10 and under, 11-14 and 15-18). It gives us a chance to give out more trophies," he said.
    "This is the third year it has been an electronically-timed event," he added, a feature which attracts serious runners who demand accurate race results. It also allows the awards to be given out in a timely manner. "When the last 5K person is through, we can start giving out trophies and not have to wait for the 10K participants to finish." In addition, the fun walk has been re-routed into Squires Gate to help alleviate congestion at the finish line, Cain said.
    This year, a PA system will aid in announcements and ramp up the fun. "We'll have music going, which we've never done before, to keep the festive atmosphere," said Cain. The system will also be used to provide music for the after party.
    It is important to preregister this year, because the race is only open to the first 1,300 who sign up. All pre-registered participants will receive the coveted commemorative shirt.
    Pre-registration ends at 4 p.m., Wednesday, November 26. The pre-registration fee is $30, $40 on race day.
    All proceeds benefit the Island Recreation Association's scholarship fund, which ensures that no child is denied recreational opportunities. For more information, call (843) 681-7273.

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