Mason running program puts on first annual Thanksgiving Day race – Web Exclusive

Hudson Pitcock | The Chronicle

On Thursday, November 23, a new Thanksgiving tradition started in Mason with the first annual Turkey Trot. The 5k race was hosted by the Mason High School Cross Country and Track and Field boosters. 1158 runners participated, including current runners, alumni, and Mason community members.

Ross Shahandeh and assistant cross country coach Tim Pitcher wore turkey costumes to celebrate the inaugural Turkey Trot race.

In addition to providing a fun holiday event, the Turkey Trot also benefited the local community through donations to the race’s community partner The Comet Cupboard. The organization is run by Girl Scout Troop 44405 and provides meals to food insecure in the Mason City Schools district. The race raised $2100 for the charity, and participating runners donated 1542 food items.

Mason Cross Country assistant coach Tim Pitcher was one of the lead organizers of the event. Working with boosters like the Buckeye Running Company and the Shine Like Sable organization, plus the city of Mason, the event was brought to life. Pitcher said the event was intended to be an event where everyone in the community could join in on the fun, with an emphasis on creating an opportunity for former athletes to stay involved with the running program.

Alumni Aiden Amshoff and Isaac Schachleiter cross the finish line together.

“We were looking for an event that could host our alumni,” Pitcher said, in an interview prior to the race. “It’s sort of hard during the school year because they’re at school and competing. With the Turkey Trot, most of the kids are at home.”

Current Mason running athletes and alumni were highly encouraged to participate in the event. Senior Alex Follmer said he enjoyed racing with his current and former teammates in an informal environment.

“For me personally,” Follmer said. “I wanted to do this race because I got to run with some alumni I hadn’t seen in a while, along with my friends and teammates.”

The race served as a fundraiser for the cross country and track programs, but the organizers also wanted to use the event to have an impact on Mason. Pitcher said the program sought to create an event that could benefit the track and cross country teams and also the larger Mason community.

“One of the things we really wanted to do was to have some type of way to give back to the community,” Pitcher said. “So we’ve partnered with the Comet Cupboard, raising awareness of that while collecting food at the event and giving them a portion of the proceeds.”

Pitcher said he was encouraged by the event’s success, and expects it to grow in coming years.

“We think that this will really grow in the next couple of years,” Pitcher said. “It really has the potential to be a big race in the area.”

Photos by Hudson Pitcock