Thanksgiving Day race in Batavia a Fox Valley tradition

Like many people, Kim McBride of South Elgin had some big plans Thursday regarding family time and a great meal, but first there were a few miles that needed to be run.

“I’ve come to this event for 10 years and it’s something I never miss. If it’s Thanksgiving, I’m here in Batavia and I’m running,” McBride said as she and her daughter Nicole walked to pick up their entry packets for the 25th Fox and Turkey Run in Batavia Thursday. “I started running after my daughter went off to college and I wanted our family to start doing something together. I’m actually pretty competitive but this is the only race I try and stay with my friends and family.”

Runners reported bright and early Thursday morning in downtown Batavia for the event, beginning with a youth one-mile race at 7:30 a.m. followed by the all-ages four-mile race that began at 8:15 a.m.

Organizers said the race this year was among the largest in its history.

“In 2020 we did a virtual race and last year we did a more normal race, but this is the first time we’re back to our usual participation of about 2,100 runners,” said race director Jonathan Wilson of Aurora. “This would be about our fifth or sixth best total.”

The race helps raise funds for the Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry.

“Any additional money we raise goes for a scholarship fund where we have donated for up to 12 kids in a year,” Wilson said. “We know there are a lot of Thanksgiving races but we kind of cater to a different market. People are happy to do the hometown thing and we kind of pitch it as the Fox Valley tradition. We had 10 people that registered the other day and they were super excited to do it as a family-oriented event.”

Awards were given for the top three male and female winners as well as the top three males and females in over a dozen age groups.

Gisenia Diaz of Elgin and her son Jonas, 7, representing the Elgin Sharks Track Club, share a moment during the 25th Fox and Turkey Run event in Batavia Thursday morning.

Runners like Nicole McBride said Thursday’s event was all about being with family and having fun.

“I started running with my mom about a decade ago and my dad and brother wait in the car and drink coffee,” she said with a laugh. “When I used to be in the Army, I was a lot more competitive and now I just chill and try to have fun. This definitely gets me ready for eating later. I’m going to have a lot of carbs.”

Race directors said about 200 youngsters would be on hand for the one-mile race that opened the day. Christina Quiroga came from St. Charles with her daughter Penelope for the race.

“My daughter runs with the Elgin Sharks Track Club and they told us they were coming so I just said ‘It’s a mile run, let’s just go and do something fun’ and we’re going to cheer,” Christina Quiroga said. “My daughter had a couple friends that were doing it as well as a teammate, so we just say hey, let’s do it.”

Christina’s daughter Penelope, 9, said she likes to run “because I connect with people.”

“I’m pretty fast and I think I’m going to do pretty good today,” Penelope predicted.

Gisenia Diaz of Elgin and her son Jonas, 7, were also representing the Elgin Sharks and said they wanted to come because Jonas “loves running.”

“This is a great opportunity for him to get out and run. He’s got a few friends that are here as well,” Gisenia Diaz said.

“I had peanut butter toast before I came,” Jonas said. “I’m not going to walk during any of the race. I’m going to run all of it. I’m pretty fast. I can beat my mom in a race.”

Dawn McGowan of Geneva brought three of her kids and said they had all run the race before.

“One of my kids is doing the four-mile this year. We loved the mile race for the kids and we love getting out and moving around before all the Thanksgiving things happen,” she said.

David Sharos is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.

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