Hundreds turn out for Chocolate Turkey 5k Race 2020

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — More than 500 runners got out and put their feet to the pavement on Thanksgiving morning.

The annual Chocolate Turkey 5k run returned to the Peoria Riverfront Thursday morning.

Brad Henz, co-founder of Shazam Racing, said typically the run would bring out 1,800-2,000 people but, due to the pandemic, things looked different this year.

Henz said, abiding by COVID-19 regulations, people could run the three-mile race in person or virtually which he said totaled about 550 runners this year.

“It was smaller but we’re thankful that we got to do the event at all,” Henz said.

He said in addition to offering the virtual option, runners were spaced out this year and ran in 10 different waves so they weren’t all together on the course.

“There were stations of 50 people but then they were starting at 10 at a time which is what the mitigations are telling us to do right now,” Henz said.

Henz said all participants got a chocolate turkey, a limited edition race shirt, and a finisher’s medal. He said this was the number one racing day of the year and said they’re fortunate to still have been able to host it regardless of certain restrictions.

“It’s different for everybody here because they’re not getting the post-race food and everything,” Henz said. “But you can tell that they’re happy just to be out here doing something and you know getting that extra exercise so they can get that extra piece of pie later.”

He said now that they’ve shown they can conduct the race in a safe way they’ll continue to host more next year.

“The way things are right now, outdoor events like this it’s one of the things you can do,” Henz said. “It’s healthy, you’re outdoors, you’re separated from other people. So it’s good, so we look forward to being able to put a lot more on and get back to some sort of normalcy in 2021.”

He said he hopes the race provided a sense of release for those who’ve recently been spending a lot of time in the house.

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