By the time the annual Oly Trot began Thursday morning at Heritage Park, temperatures hovered in the high-20s — but many were thankful the frosty weather came with sunny blue skies.
Runners who fully embraced the festive spirit of Oly Trot dashed around Capitol Lake dressed as turkeys and pilgrims, while other runners went with simple reindeer antlers or the kitschy Christmas sweater.
Unfazed by the cold air, some runners shunned coats and pants in favor of short shorts and tank tops.
“We’re lucky this year because it’s not actually raining,” said Jenny Heddin, volunteer coordinator, referring to last year’s conditions. “I’ll take this weather any day.”
The Guerilla Running racing club is behind this local Thanksgiving Day tradition. Organizers expect to raise about $5,000 along with a moving truck full of goods for the Thurston County Food Bank. The club also sent about 130 volunteers to assemble Thanksgiving baskets last weekend at the food bank.
“Our donations helps with the post-Thanksgiving food need,” said Rachael Jamison, race director, noting the time and money that Oly Trot devotes to the food bank each year. “It is a source of pride.”
The event started at 8:30 a.m. with a half-mile Tot Trot for about 100 youngsters, followed by the main 4-mile Oly Trot with 1,000 registered runners.
Darcey Smith of Lacey joined daughter Carroll Barnard and friend Kristina Martin to run their first Oly Trot, which has long been on their bucket list. The trio wore matching orange tutus and black turkey T-shirts as they hopped up and down to keep warm before the race.
As a bonus, Smith said the 4-mile run will help her burn a few calories while the turkey is “at home basting away.”
Olympia resident Darrel Bell donned a velour turkey costume that gave him meaty drumsticks for legs and featherless wings for arms, complete with a sign on his back that said “Eat more beef.” His brother, Dan Bell, joined him while dressed as a piece of pumpkin pie.
The costume was made and originally worn by his friend Roger Kiers, who ran the Oly Trot last year, but couldn’t make it in 2015.
“The turkey will run again,” Bell said before the race. “It’s all about the costume.”
And of course, there was food. San Francisco Street Bakery supplied hundreds of dollars’ worth of pumpkin pie and cookies for runners at the finish line, which was a people-watcher’s dream come true. Finshers also got a medal.
After the race, the McMillan family was all smiles. Tyson and Ellie McMillan dressed as a pilgrim and turkey, respectively, alongside their two little pilgrims Braedon, 12, and Jaxon, 4.
Oly Trot has become an annual tradition for the family to get some exercise before going home to gobble up some Thanksgiving grub.
“Now we can eat whatever we want, right?” said Tyson McMillan, laughing. “This is a good way to start the day.”