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Throngs expected for the Turkey Trot 2002

(ran SS edition of METRO & STATE)

Get those running and walking shoes ready. The 24th annual Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot is just days away.

Skip Rogers, who has been the Turkey Trot race committee chairman for 14 years, said 10,500 people participated last year, and organizers expect at least that many entries this year.

Runners and walkers can choose the 5K (3.1-mile) Wingding that sets off at 7:30 a.m., the 1-Mile Gobbler at 8:30 a.m. or the 10K (6.2-mile) Turkey Trot at 8:45 a.m. Medical assistance will be available at water stations.

A new addition to the races this year, Rogers said, will be a clock on the lead vehicle so racers can check their time without having to look down at their watches. Bicycles, wagons, roller blades, skates and animals are prohibited on the course.

Another novelty this year: It has not been decided precisely where the race will start.

All the races will begin either at Keene Road and Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard or a block south at Druid Road because of the construction project to widen Keene Road to six lanes from Druid Road north to Drew Street. All the races will end at Jack White Stadium at Clearwater High School.

A kickoff party from 5 to 8 p.m. in the stadium on the eve of the race will feature music by the Barracuda Band, free turkey dogs and beverages and vendors with running and triathlon sportswear and accessories, as well as some Turkey Trot caps, mugs and polo shirts.

Proceeds from the Trot are donated to local charities, and participants are asked to bring canned goods and nonperishable food to the stadium on race day.

The charities that benefited last year: $1,000 to the Parent Student Teacher Association at Clearwater High School and the volunteers who hand out water at the finish line, $1,000 to Big Brothers and Big Sisters, $500 each to the Clearwater Police Explorers, Food Pantry, Times Turkey Trot Track Team, Clearwater Fire Explorers, Officer Friendly Christmas Fund and the Clearwater High School Band. Two-hundred-fifty dollars each went to the Largo Police Explorers, high school swim teams working the water stops, First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks recreation outreach and Girl Scout Troop 1108. And $7,000 went to local scholarships.

Trot participants can register in advance at the Turkey Trot Web site at www.tampabay.com/turkeytrot or at Morton Plant Mease Wellness Centers in Clearwater and Palm Harbor, the Energy Conservatory in Dunedin, the Sports Authority, the Long Center, Countryside Community Center, Advantage Yours Tennis & Running McMullen Tennis Complex and the YMCA, all in Clearwater.

Cost in advance is $6 for the Gobbler and $9 each for the 5K and 10K. On race day, the Gobbler is $7, and the other races are $12 each.

Turkey Trot T-shirts for adults and children can be picked up on race day before or after the race with the stub from the race number. No stub, no shirt.

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