With a mix of party and somber, at least 1,500 runners and walkers, not counting strollers and barkers, took part in the Turkey Day 5K on …
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With a mix of party and somber, at least 1,500 runners and
walkers, not counting strollers and barkers, took part in the
Turkey Day 5K on Thanksgiving morning.
Each year, the Highlands Ranch Chamber of Commerce gives part of
the proceeds to the Colorado National Guard Foundation to support
families of soldiers on active duty.
This year, the recent death of a National Guard soldier, Jon
Stiles of Highlands Ranch, pulled a larger than normal number of
Guardsmen to the run.
“He was in our unit before he was deployed, said Sgt. John
Martinez, as he pinned a race bib on fellow soldier PFC Steven
Gerdjikian . “We’re out here to show him some love.”
Launa Stiles, widow of Jon Stiles, ran with moral support from
her friend Paige Brown.
Brown had clasped Stiles’ hand through a press conference
announcing her husband’s death.
Jon Stiles died Nov. 13 in Afghanistan.
Greeting runners was Grand Turkey Bryan Jongewaard, shaking his
tail feathers, felt though they were, slapping five and generally
working up crowd enthusiasm for running in the 33 degree weather
and an intermittent chilly breeze.
Volunteers steered runners to sign-in tables and the lines for
the preregistered runners.
Runners stretched, drank coffee held with gloved hands, and
Volunteers from ThunderRidge High were watching the bananas and
Vitamin Water, post race snacks for participants.
Marisa Santerella and Kamila Hnuik danced to “Shout” from the
“Animal House” soundtrack, played over loudspeakers.
Turnout was more than originally expected.
“We had about 1,400 pre-registered,” said Steve Dyer, chamber
president. “We are prepared for about 1,700.”
Soon the runners were off with a yell, and 16 minutes later, the
first runner was returning.
Paul DiGrappa, 27, of Castle Rock took first place in the men’s
division with a time of 16:02.
Dominique Gerrard, 15, of Highlands Ranch, took first in the
women’s division with 19:26, quickly followed by Taylor Gerrard,
12, at 19:52.
After the race, runners and revelers had a chance at CB &
Pott’s ButtFace amber ale.
“Come on, you need the carbs,” said Jamie Noebel, chamber board
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