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Video: In Its 10th Year, Zack’s Place Turkey Trot a Tradition

  • Alex Crompton, of Killington, Vt., carries his friend, Graham Melville, of Woodstock, Vt., across the finish line. The annual Turkey Trot 5K, held on Thanksgiving Day, in Woodstock, Vt., raises funds for Zack's Place—a recreational facility for those with special needs. (Valley News - John Happel) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Runners take off from the starting line at the annual Turkey Trot 5K, in Woodstock, Vt., on Thursday, November 24, 2016. The annual race raises funds for Zack's Place—a recreational facility for those with special needs. (Valley News - John Happel) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Gale Dougherty, left, of Woodstock, Vt., pushes her granddaughter Mia in the 5K walk. The annual Turkey Trot 5K, held on Thanksgiving Day, in Woodstock, raises funds for Zack's Place—a recreational facility for those with special needs. (Valley News - John Happel) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Arjan Vanderschoot, of Woodstock, Vt., dressed in his race costume he named "Nugget," enjoys some hot chocolate after the race. The annual Turkey Trot 5K, held on Thanksgiving Day, in Woodstock, raises funds for Zack's Place—a recreational facility for those with special needs. (Valley News - John Happel) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • Ten-year-old Farren Stainton stretches out and puts on her jersey before the start of the race. The annual Turkey Trot 5K, held on Thanksgiving Day, in Woodstock, Vt., raises funds for Zack's Place—a recreational facility for those with special needs. (Valley News - John Happel) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



Valley News Staff Writer
Thursday, November 24, 2016

Woodstock — Shortly after an estimated 1,500 runners and walkers crossed the finish line in downtown Woodstock Thursday morning — including plenty of folks dressed as turkeys, pilgrims and at least one teddy bear — organizers of the Zack’s Place Turkey Trot said they expected they would handily top last year’s fundraising total of $67,000.

Now in its 10th year, the money raised from entrance fees for the 5K road race, which loops from the Woodstock Elementary School up over the Ottauquechee River toward Billings Farm and back, supports the nonprofit Zack’s Place, an enrichment center in Woodstock for people with special needs.

“Every penny ... we raise today goes to Zack’s Place,” said Dail Frates, co-founder and executive director of the center named for her late stepson, who was among the first users of the space.

“All of the food was donated, we got sponsors to help pay for the T-shirts, the police; everything (for) the race, we got the sponsors to cover those costs. So I think people feel it; people like to give and giving feels good.”

The event kicked off with a prayer from Tanner Dow, a Zack’s Place program participant.

“I am thankful for everyone at Zack’s Place and all my friends and family and everyone who showed up to the Turkey Trot,” Dow said, to applause, as light snow fell.

Runners lined up according to their mile times, with a handful running 5-minute, 6- and 7-minute miles, but most taking a little longer, and many walkers rounding out the field.

Although most participants were from the Upper Valley and New England, registrations showed runners came from as far away as California, Washington, Texas, Alabama and Florida.

Frates said beyond the draw of giving directly to a nonprofit, Zack’s Place stands out among turkey trots for its ability to feel local while bringing holiday visitors into the fold.

“People are looking for an event to do on Thanksgiving morning … and (people visiting the Upper Valley) are connecting with the people who live here full-time and that’s a really cool thing,” she said.

“It’s a close-knit community,” Frates said. “Even though people may be coming from Lebanon, from White River, from Hartford, they may have played each other in sports throughout the years in the high schools, their parents might know each other, and they may know each other from a previous Turkey Trot.”

Noah Williams, of Norwich, took the top spot with a time of 16:25.81. Top-ten finishers from the Upper Valley included Riley Shepherd, of North Pomfret (4th, 17:32.54); Simon Shepherd, of North Pomfret (5th, 17:58.6); Matthew Bassette, of Hartland (6th, 18:08.54); and Keith Kantack (8th, 18:25.67).

Full results are online at runsignup.com.

Maggie Cassidy can be reached at mcassidy@vnews.com or 603-727-3220.