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Turkey Trot

Turkey Trot Director Sharon Marks, center, stands with the winners of the 43rd annual Turkey Trot at Parkersburg City Park. Breydon Gates, left, was the men’s race winner. Sarah Biehl, right, was the women’s race winner. Each received a fresh turkey for placing first in their respective divisions. (Photo by James Dobbs)

PARKERSBURG – More than 4,000 runners and walkers participated Thursday in the 43rd annual Turkey Trot.

The trot is a 3-mile race around Parkersburg City Park that is organized by the River City Runners and Walkers Club.

“This is our biggest fundraiser, it pays for a lot of scholarships for our programs, for all of the things we do throughout the year, the running series, the kids series, so this is our biggest,” Sharon Marks, Turkey Trot director, said.

Marks said last year’s race was virtual due to the pandemic. She said only about 1,000 people signed up and the club didn’t make enough money to cover its budget.

“So this year is awesome, because this will cover the whole year and then some,” she said. “We’re happy as can be.”

Marks said she loves the event, and it is a tradition for families.

“So for me, this is like the pinnacle of the race season, because I’m busy, and I love it, and I love to see all these people,” said Marks. “I’m a teacher, so I get to see all my old students and this is like a holiday for me.”

Parkersburg Mayor Tom Joyce made an appearance at the race.

Joyce said he has been starting the race for the last five years. The Turkey Trot is among the best events in the City of Parkersburg, he said.

“It’s a tradition for a lot of folks to come in from out of town, to be with family, and they come and do this, so it’s great,” said Joyce.

He said the event takes a lot of effort from the River City Runners and Walkers Club, the police department, the parks department and the fire department.

“Everybody kind of works together, to put this thing together, and it’s just wonderful,” he said.

Breydon Gates was the men’s race winner with a time of 14 minutes, 54 seconds. Sarah Biehl was the women’s race winner with a time of 16 minutes, 24 seconds.

Each received a fresh turkey as their prize for being first across the finish line in their division.

Gates said he has been competing in the race since high school and has won a handful of times.

He said he enjoys getting together and seeing the kids he raced in high school and college.

“It’s fun, I like doing it every year,” said Gates. “It gives me something to look forward to when I come home.”

This is the sixth year Biehl has competed and won the Turkey Trot. She decided at the last minute the night before the race to enter, waiting to see how she felt.

She competed in the JFK 50-mile race in Maryland last Saturday and came in second place.

“I actually felt a lot better than I thought it was going to feel after last weekend’s 50-miler,” she said.

Biehl said the Turkey Trot is a tradition for her. Biehl said even though she lives in Columbus, it would feel weird not to race in the Turkey Trot.

“It’s not really Thanksgiving unless I do the Turkey Trot,” she said.

James Dobbs can be reached at jdobbs@newsandsentinel.com.

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