More than 800 runners competed in this year’s Turkey Trot. Photo by Jeff Vorva
Record number of runners come out for 33rd Turkey Trot
By Jeff Vorva
In 2019, Patrick Foster won the Orland Park Turkey Trot for his first top finish in a competitive race.
This year, he was back in the winner’s circle.
Foster, an Orland Park native who now lives and works in Madison, Wisconsin, finished the 2 1/2-mile race in 14 minutes, 19.9 seconds on Thanksgiving morning on a course near Village Hall.
Amanda Tracy, a former Marist runner from Orland Park, was the first female to cross the finish line, with a time of 16:30.2.
During the height of COVID-19 in 2020, the Turkey Trot was run in waves the Saturday before Thanksgiving. But this year it was back in its regular time slot and the result was a record 960 entrants and 822 finishers. There were 296 finishers in 2020.
Foster was an alternate on the 2015 Sandburg cross country team, when the Eagles won their first IHSA Class 3A state championship.
The 2021 team won the second state title this fall, and Foster enjoyed it from afar.
“I was following them on my phone,” he said. “I was following them the whole season and it was exciting.”
Eight hundred-plus runners were following Foster on Thanksgiving morning, but he said he was racing more for fun than competition. He did not run the race in 2020.
“I just wanted to come out here and have fun,” he said. “I got a chance to see some people I haven’t see in a while. I saw some people from high school. Seeing each other at the start of the race was fun. I was able to talk to them for five or 10 minutes.”
Former Lockport runner Michael Barber, who now runs at Carthage, was the runner-up, Robbie Sieczkowski took third and 2020 champ Griffin Lehnhardt finished fourth.
Tracy had never tackled the Turkey Trot before and said she wasn’t sure what to expect.
“I had no idea I would win it,” said Tracy. “I ran my pace, I felt good so I just went with it.”
At Marist, she joined three other runners in the 3,200-meter relay who qualified for the state meet in 2019.
Her senior track season was wiped out by COVID but she landed a spot on the cross country roster at St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana.
She was the second-highest finisher for the Belles in the NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional race on Nov. 13 when she set a personal-best 6K time of 24:35.5.
She said she has been running for five years.
“I just wanted to try something different,” she said. “I loved it. I love the environment. Racing is fun.”
Tracy was the only female to run in under 17 minutes this year’s Turkey Trot.
Margaret Sobolewski was the runner-up with a 17:02.4 and Lindsey Gerhardstein was third with a 17:42.4.
Many athletes won age-group trophies.
Among the males, Cooper Kacerovskis (9-under), Brayden Gaffud (10-14), Michael Barber (15-19), Foster (20-24), Noah Rigoni (25-29), Zachary Dahleen (30-34), Daniel Dominik (35-39),Nick Tokarz (40-44), Miguel A. Hernandez (45-49), Manny Chavez (50-54), Steve Amann (55-59), Jim Rolette (60-64), John Warren (65-69) and Edward Behena (70-over) were champions.
The female winners were Hazel Kao (9-under), Lindsey Gerhardstein (10-14), Tracy (15-19), Kate Wille (20-24), Sobolewski (25-29), Rachel Reyes (30-34), Julie Gebel (35-39), Kelly Lynn (40-44), Paula Garspardo (45-49), Sherry Wille (50-54), Margaret Marron (55-59), Shelli O’Grady (60-64), Gloria Hill Hupe (65-69) and Margie Tucker (70-older).
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