Thanksgiving Day got off to a great start for this area’s sneaker set as the Fort Lauderdale Turkey Trot 5K featured over 2,500 running enthusiasts who overcame blustery winds for the morning outing along picturesque A1A.
The event involved not only seasoned runners but also local families and holiday visitors who gathered at DC Alexander Park for the start of the race.
Just after dawn, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler addressed the crowd at the starting line and stayed around to present the awards to winners in the various divisional categories. This race has been a fixture in the community since 2010.
In the men’s open division, Daniel Martin ran a blistering pace and crossed the finish line in just over 15 minutes (15:53) to take the title. Jason Pedersen was runner-up, while Michael Cabral took third place.
Laura DiBella also cruised to victory in the women’s open division as she crossed the finish line in just over 20 minutes (20:07), followed by Alexandra Bojarski-Stauffer and Stephanie Reinhold in second and third place respectively.
Many of the participants got into the holiday spirit by wearing traditional Thanksgiving Day apparel.
DiBella, a track star at Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale back in 1997, has channeled her competitive nature toward marathon running. For her, the 5K race was more of a speed workout as she easily notched her third overall crown in the Turkey Trot series.
The Fort Lauderdale native resides in Fernandina Beach, but comes back every year to visit her mother and friends.
“I wasn’t feeling so good today and was debating whether I should run, but I couldn’t turn down running the Turkey Trot,” DiBella said. “This has become a great Thanksgiving tradition and Fort Lauderdale is my hometown and I had to represent my city. The wind was pretty fierce on the way back. I’m in marathon shape right now, not 5K shape.”
DiBella most recently ran the Berlin marathon and is in training for the upcoming Boston Marathon. Winning is always a matter of pride and comes down to being mentally tough.
“I tend to take it for granted, but it’s always great to win,” she said. “There is great energy with the spectators cheering you on. I’m thankful for my family and running has helped me heal from some of the family losses I have experienced.”
Martin is an elite member of the running circuit and is a professional lifeguard for Miami Beach Ocean Rescue. The Hollywood resident had many things to be thankful for.
I’m thankful for so many things like my job, where I live, my family and the people who are around me,” Martin said. “This is the first time I have entered this race and I came here for the competition. I burned some calories off, but will put it back on with some turkey.”