|ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, TENN. – The vibrant hues of the falling leaves blanketing the ground outside the Arnold Air Force Base Administration & Engineering Building along with the crisp autumn air created an ideal backdrop as AEDC team members and local community lined up to take part in a pre-Thanksgiving tradition, the AEDC Turkey Trot.
The 32nd annual Turkey Trot was Nov. 9 and the 5K, or approximately 3.1-mile run that began outside the A&E Building, took the 55-registered participants around the loop in front of the building, onto the Fitness Trail and back to the A&E Building.
This year the AEDC Turkey Trot, in a way, marked the return of the decades-old event hosted for years by the Arnold AFB Company Grade Officers Council. First-time organizer 2nd Lt. Ryan Boudreaux, with Space and Missiles Combined Test Force, said an official Turkey Trot was not held last year. Still, around 15 avid runners and prior participants across AEDC joined forces to hold an ad hoc Turkey Trot in 2016.
“They kind of missed the Turkey Trot last year,” Boudreaux said. “They didn’t have an officially sanctioned one last year, so we wanted to make sure that we absolutely got it this year so that we could keep up the tradition.”
“One of the obstacles we ran into this year was that it’s during CFC [Combined Federal Campaign] time, so we didn’t really want to do it as a fundraiser,” Boudreaux said. “I think in years past they’ve done it as a fundraiser either for the CGOC or for a local charity, so we went with the food donations.”
While each participant was able to purchase a Turkey Trot T-shirt for $5, the true entry fee for this year’s run was the donation of nonperishable food items. The food donations will be provided to a local food bank.
Registration for the 2017 Turkey Trot began weeks prior to the event. Boudreaux said the response was very positive.
“A lot of people were very excited we were doing it,” he said. “I was surprised that we had 55 people come out. That’s a pretty big number, I think, for fitness stuff, at least when it’s not forced.”
Unlike past Turkey Trots, this year’s event did not have divisions based on age and gender. There were no prizes and the only thing on the line was bragging rights. Those bragging rights were earned by Paul Wright, program manager in Arnold AFB Capital Improvements, who outpaced the field with a time of 20 minutes, 22 seconds, crossing the finish line more than two minutes ahead of the next finisher.
Wright, who recently took up running again after a brief layoff, had taken part in the AEDC Turkey Trot each of the seven years prior to this year. He intends to run in the 2018 installment.
“It’s a really fun event to get contractors and government folks out here together to have some camaraderie and just have some fun together,” Wright said.
Shanda Peterson, who works in Arnold AFB Financial Management, took up running in July and the Turkey Trot was her first 5K. Her goal is to run a half-marathon, which is 13.1 miles, and the Turkey Trot was a way to gauge her progress. She finished with a time of 25 minutes, 42 seconds.
“I think it’s just a good way to start off Veterans Day, and it’s near Thanksgiving,” she said. “So, when I’m running, I’m envisioning all that I’m thankful for.”
Jory Boudreaux, who works in the Air Force Research Laboratory at Arnold AFB and wife of Ryan Boudreaux, trained with her 12-year-old daughter Annawyn to participate in the Turkey Trot. It marked Annawyn’s first 5K, and she accomplished her goal of running all the way through it.
“I’m happy and tired at the same time,” Annawyn said following the run. “I’m glad I didn’t stop.”
The mother-daughter duo not only trained together, they also coordinated their Turkey Trot attire, donning the official event T-shirts and the same striped, Turkey emblazoned knee socks.
“We decided to go all out,” Jory said.
Beth Sinemus, wife of 1st Lt. Tom Sinemus with the Arnold AFB Integration & Support Branch, arrived wearing the same socks, even though she had not coordinated with Jory and Annawyn, allowing them to form a Turkey Trot trio. Sinemus also got into the spirit by running while wearing a colorful turkey hat.
“It’s not a trot without a turkey,” she said.
Jory, Annawyn and Sinemus all said they will continue to participate in future Turkey Trots at the Complex.
“It’s neat to see everybody come together to do it, and I think the loop was really fun,” Jory said. “It was so leafy and pretty. It really gets you in the fall mood.”
Boudreaux said organizers are already looking toward the next Turkey Trot, considering ways to enhance the event now that the race is back. Fun, fellowship and lending a helping hand to a worthy cause will remain the priorities, but the 2018 AEDC Turkey Trot could be a venue for participants to get their pre-holiday competitive juices flowing.
“This year was a fun run, but I think with the amount of success we had this year and the notes we were able to take, I think we’ll probably do some kind of prizes or something next year,” Boudreaux said.