Thanksgiving may be just around the corner, but Jayson Jackson has already dispensed plenty of gratitude this year.
It’s not that the coach of St. Joseph’s Catholic Academy’s cross country and track and field programs has anything against turkey, stuffing or even cranberry sauce — it’s just that there are some birds for which you can’t wait to come out of the oven.
The boys and girls divisions of St. Joseph’s cross country squad had qualified for states for the first time in the history of the five-year-old program. Better yet, the young ladies even returned home with a state title.
It was both the type of success that every young program dreams about and a ringing endorsement of the supporters who helped to nurture the team through its infancy.
For the past two years, Jackson and his athletes have co-hosted a Thanksgiving 5K run/walk in Boalsburg, where the money spent by central Pennsylvania’s avid running community helped to brandish the young program with equipment and traveling funds.
Following the resounding success the cross country team experienced this fall, Jackson posted a message on the Turkey Trot’s Facebook page, thanking previous 5K participants for their contributions.
“Their dollars have helped us reach new heights,” Jackson said.
Bearing in mind that altitude sickness trumps a food coma, The third annual Boalsburg Turkey Trot will begin at 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving at the Pennsylvania Military Museum.
Co-sponsored by the Friends of the Pennsylvania Military Museum, the 5K will present awards to the top three male and female finishers.
“I think everyone enjoys it. I think it’s become a nice community event as well,” Jackson said.
Last year, that “nice community event” attracted nearly 300 people, providing plenty of work for St. Joseph’s cross country and track and field squads behind the scenes.
In preparation for the 5K, the athletes promoted the event by handing out fliers at school and notifying surrounding homes about the passing foot traffic they should expect come Thanksgiving morning.
Come race day, students will also help to facilitate registrations and provide directions along the route of the event.
“It’s a good way for the team to bond,” Kate Ott, a cross country team captain, said.
That’s all well and good, but what do the other runners on the course get out of it?
Aside from the philanthropic appeal, there are other, more practical reasons to register for the 5K.
“It’s nice to get out and get moving Thanksgiving morning. It helps you eat a little bit more,” Jackson said.
IF YOU GO
Third annual Boalsburg Turkey Trot
What: 5K run/walk
When: 9 a.m. Thursday
Where: the Pennsylvania Military Museum
Cost: $25 for adults, $15 for veterans, $25 for students 18 and younger