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Some of the 7,500 entrants in the 5K start their race on a sun-splashed day in Oceanside. (Rich Cruse photo)
OCEANSIDE, Nov. 27, 2014 – Like many in the record crowd of 10,000, Sarah and Darren Brown started a new holiday tradition at the 9th annual Pacific Marine Credit Union O’side Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning. Only, theirs is a bit out of the ordinary.
Darren shattered the course record in the opening 5 Mile Run. A few minutes later, Sarah finished as the easy winner in the women’s 5 Mile Run. Welcome to Oceanside and North County.
“We just moved out here last February for my job at ElliptiGo in Solana Beach, so this will be our first Thanksgiving here,” said Darren, who broke the course record of 25:16 set here last year by Lukas Verzbicas. Brown ran 25:05 to lower the mark by a substantial 11 seconds. “My wife, Sarah, runs also, and she’ll probably win the 5 Mile, too.”
Sure enough, a few minutes later Sarah was an unchallenged champion in the Women’s 5 Mile Run in a time of 28:10.
“It was really fun,” Sarah said. “I was leading the whole way and felt comfortable out there because I ran with a pack of guys. This will give my self-confidence a boost when we go to Pennsylvania on Dec. 13 for the club nationals.”
5K alone has more than 7,500 participants
The Browns were part of a record-setting day that dawned cloudless and brisk for the opening 5 Mile Run, then turned warmer and dry for the later 5K, which alone had a field of more than 7,500 participants who went off at the starting line near the Oceanside Civic Center in a series of waves. Together with kids races for entrants 12 and under, it pushed the 2014 O’side Turkey Trot to record participation.
"We were thrilled with the event for our 9th year and look forward to the 10th year of the race," said Race Director Kathy Kinane of Kinane Events. "We love the fact that North County embraces this event and that so many families come together at it to spend some quality time together on Thanksgiving morning."
The runners and walkers, who stretched back blocks in downtown Oceanside, celebrated a race that began nine years ago with the slogan: “Move Your Feet Before You Eat!” Since then, thousands have not only taken that slogan to heart, but also have made the O’side Turkey Trot a holiday tradition in North County.
Family traditions run deep at race
It is a tradition that includes thousands of families, many of whom gather together to start Thanksgiving with a run and walk. The record field was dotted with multi-generational family groups, as grandparents ran with younger family members. In fact, participants were on hand from 41 states and five countries as families gathered here from around the country and the world to actively begin a day of giving thanks.
The first family of the event – certainly in terms of numbers – are the Bices. Their connection to the O’side Turkey Trot began when former San Diego State student Austin Bice ran in the event in its early years. He loved the event. But, as a 22-year-old senior, he went to Madrid, Spain to study international business. In January of 2011, he was found dead in the city’s Manzaneres River. In his memory, his parents created the Austin Bice Memorial Scholarship Fund for study at San Diego State. And this year’s edition of Team Austin Bice had 524 members who were clad in bright red shirts. Needless to say, Team Austin Bice easily won the race’s annual team participation competition.
The record crowd will have a big impact on local schools and non-profit organizations because the PMCU O'side Turkey Trot is unique in that entrants can choose to have $5 of their entry fee go to support a local school or non-profit. And, most entrants did just that. The Austin Bice Memorial Scholarship Fund, the Boys & Grils Club of Oceanside, the Semper Fi Fund, and the Move Your Feet Before You Eat! Foundation are among the leading non-profit beneficiaries this year. Tri City Christian, whose 9th grader Andrew Seelhoff ran his first race at the O'side Turkey Trot since having a leg amputated in June, is among the leading schools benefiting.
Race continues to help local beneficiaries
In its first eight years, the PMCU O'side Turkey Trot raised more than 180,000, and that figure will rise considerably with this year’s record crowd. The net effect will be scholarships and other opportunities for young people, help for those serving in the military, and a boost to countless other organizations that make a difference in Oceanside and North County.
The growth of the event has been remarkable - from less than 2,000 in its debut to this year's record crowd. Along with the increased crowds have come faster times, as evidenced by Brown’s record in the 5 Mile Run.
In the event’s 5K Run, local standout Tom Kloos, now a Bay Area running fixture, ran away from his competition to win in 14:43. A longtime Oceanside resident, Kloos captured his fourth 5K title at this event, also having won here in 2008, 2009 and 2013.
“I’m thankful I’m able to be healthy and still be able to do this,” said the 37-year-old Kloos, now a track coach at St. Mary’s College in the Bay Area. “I’m especially thankful for the beautiful lady there (pointing), who I married this summer. Stephanie keeps me young. I hope to be able to stay healthy and do this for many more years.”
Carlsbad’s Lindsey Drake, 25, won the women’s 5K title with a time of 16:45.
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