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Thanksgiving Turkey Trot to go virtual this year

By MEGHAN BRADBURY - | Sep 30, 2020


The 41st annual Turkey Trot 5K will go virtual this year, giving runners an opportunity to participate in the long- standing tradition at any location they desire.

Fort Myers Track Club Race Director JeAnne Hertel said they contacted the Cape Coral Parks & Recreation Department, as special events need permits to be held, and were told that the city would not be permitting the event due pandemic-related restrictions on large gatherings. She said she completely understands as there is a lot of close contact, with more than 2,000 runners at the annual event.

The Fort Myers Track Club wanted to continue the tradition, though, while raising money for three charities this year — the Hope Parkinson Program, Lee Health Foundation and the Fort Myers Track Club Bill Shevach Memorial Scholarship fund for youth.

“We wanted to give people that opportunity to continue participating,” Hertel said. “People can run for a lot of different reasons. They can run to stay in shape, run to get the race swag and give back to the community. All of our money stays here in Lee County.”

The charitable component is especially important because there are a lot of nonprofits struggling right now, she added.

The virtual 5K, 3.1 miles, is open through Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 26, and times must be entered by 11:59 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. Registration is now open at https://bit.ly/3cuQuzC and is $35 per person 17 and older and $25 for those 17 years old and younger.

“They have the opportunity to participate anywhere, anytime they choose,” Hertel said.

For participants residing in Lee County, packet pick-up will be held at Healthy Life Center – Cape Coral, 609 SE 13th Ct. from noon to 6 p.m. Nov. 21.

Although the race will not be interactive as in past years with everyone lining up at the starting line, they have an app, RaceJoy Live Phone Tracing and Cheer Sending, participants can download, providing another kind of interaction, Hertel said.

The app provides GPS progress alerts, live GPS tracking for remote spectators to track the participant’s progress, the ability to send-a-cheer with audio cheers from remote friends and family and virtual results with an entered race-assigned bib number.

For those who do not want to use the RaceJoy app can still enter their results manually.

Hertel said so far, all of their virtual races have attracted many participants. Most of the races are probably about where they would be with registration if they held the normal live event, she added.