CATTARAUGUS - The 5 kilometer turkey trot held by the Cattaraugus Firemen and Women's Auxiliary on Thanksgiving Day has been pronounced a huge success. In its initial running, the event brought out 118 participants, at least 30 or so volunteer workers, and flocks of observers and cheerleaders.
The runners set out from the Firemen's Club at 9 a.m., and amazingly, only 15 minutes later, the leader of the pack, Hunter Phinney, came zipping back down South Street, badly startling one or two of the pokier plodders, who were just getting nicely underway.
But this whole event seemed all about having fun. Obviously, Hunter was having fun going fast; but so were the tail-end Charlies, out for a not-so-brisk stroll on a glorious, crisp Thanksgiving Day. The age-mix was interesting, as well, ranging from one tot being pushed in a stroller by his/her mother, to a determined 82-year-old who entered on what she called "a crazy impulse."
Thanksgiving morning’s cold temps and light snow failed to daunt the determined participants in the First Annual Cattaraugus Turkey Trot. The eventual winner, Hunter Phinney, was already making the turn up South Street when the other front runners came by.
As soon as racers crossed the finish line, they were shepherded into the clubhouse to warm themselves, sip cocoa and talk strategy for next year's trot. A brief ceremony acknowledged winners in the following categories: Adult Male: David Feuz, with a time of 20 minutes and 38 seconds. Adult Female: Megan Janora, 23:35. Teen Male: Hunter Phinney, who also was the overall winner with a time of 18:13. Teen Female: Haylei John, 24:05. Child Male: Evan Doucette, 27:12. Child Female: Ryleigh John, 28:13.
Representatives of the fire department and auxiliary extended their thanks to every person who took part in this first-ever event. The runners, of course, braved the nippy temperatures to make the trot work; but the volunteers were sorely needed, too, for such jobs as registering late entrants and whipping up hot chocolate. Others stationed themselves at village intersections, where they directed traffic and looked after the runners' safety.
Volunteers for the Shovel Brigade received special accolades. These hardy souls actually hand-shoveled the entire Cattaraugus-Little Valley School athletic track, removing all those newly arrived drifts. It seems the track composed a vital link in the carefully measured 5-kilometer total. Tom and Tammy Mormile, Mike and Megan Jones and John Bronneberg made up this hard-working crew.
The race was conceived and put together primarily through the efforts of the Race Committee. Its members are: Pastor Mike Jones, Chad Rogan, Ken Charles, representing the Ambulance Service, and Eileen Williams, who said afterwards, "I like that all the proceeds go directly into the Cattaraugus Fire Department's Children's Christmas Fund. It's nice that this turned out to be such a family-oriented activity, and that it wasn't overly expensive for anyone to enter."
Incidentally, the race proceeds totaled $1,100.00, and the committee is already planning a new and improved second Annual Cattaraugus Turkey Trot.