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Watertown YMCA Turkey Day Run sees record number

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More than 1,600 runners and walkers flocked to the Watertown YMCA Turkey Day Run on Thursday to get in a little cardio before gobbling up some bird.

The event, in its 29th year, featured a 5k run and 1.9 mile fun run and walk, both starting at the Church of Latter Day Saints on Ives Street. It has become more popular as the years have gone by.

“This continues to grow,” said Steven N. Rowell, director of the Downtown YMCA. “Last year we had close to 1,500, and that was a record for us.”

This year brought a couple of changes, including the involvement of a new timing company, Sportstats of Ottawa, which supplied bibs for the 5k with embedded chips that keep track of race results.

“They did a great job,” said Mr. Rowell, though the new system did cause a little confusion because people weren’t used to it.

The second biggest change was more people bringing their pets to walk with them, which Mr. Rowell tries to discourage.

“As the YMCA, we really don’t want dogs at our runs or walks. They’re out of their element, there’s a lot of people and a lot of chaos and a lot of children. We’d prefer that people just leave them at home,” he said.

The event was not conceived as a fundraiser, but rather as a way to promote exercise on a day that is better known for overindulgence and dormancy.

“The idea is just to get people out and get them active before they head home for the big meal,” said Mr. Rowell.

“Everybody comes home for Thanksgiving. It’s a great way for people to be with their friends and family and enhance their holiday a little more,” Mr. Rowell said.

In an age when nutrition and exercise are becoming more important at a younger age, it seems that the Turkey Day Run has both met its mission and secured its future.

“This year we had a class of 8 and under. We got some pretty good times for kids that age, and that’s encouraging,” said Mr. Rowell.

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