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Churchs annual Thanksgiving Day race draws 250
Runners choice 2
Young and old alike startedout their Thanksgiving Day by running sometimes walking the 3.1 mile run hosted each year by Ceres Christian Church. Proceeds from the run support Walter White, Westport, Don Pedro and Sam Vaughn elementary Schools. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

A record 250 participants started their Thanksgiving holiday braving cool morning temperatures and lacing up the running shoes at Ceres Christian Church's Roeding Road campus for the sixth annual Love Ceres Turkey Trot.

The run was the fifth for Shawn Looney, who participated with his wife, Candace Looney, a Beaver Elementary School first-grade teacher, and their children, ages 8, 10 and 12.

"We're crazy," said Looney, when asked why he signs up for the run. "We eat a lot on Thanksgiving so this is a way to burn off the calories early."

A number of other Ceres Unified School District employees and students also participated, including Supt. Dr. Scott Siegel. About 20 students from the running club at Don Pedro School participated.

"It was a good turnout and well supported by the different schools," said event organizer and youth pastor J.J. Beyronneau. "The principals enjoy it."

The 5K fun run started out in 2012 as a fundraiser for both Westport and Walter White elementary schools. This year, the Love Ceres Turkey Trot added Sam Vaughn and Don Pedro elementary schools. Beyronneau said the church had long identified the two original schools as being in great need for support and that in years past the school donated supplies to help out. Runners paid $25 per person to run while families could run for $75. The actual proceeds have not been tallied yet.

In the past five years, the run has generated $17,000 for the two Ceres schools.

"My hope is as we add schools we'll be able to get more community involvement and then be able to raise more funds in the coming years," said Beyronneau.

Runners started out on the campus at 8 a.m. and ran east on Roeding Road and then south onto Esmar Road, then east on Don Pedro Road past Faith Home Road to an orchard. The group then circled back to the church.

Approximately 20 volunteers were required to pull off the holiday run. Since the race was a fun run, no awards were given but runners' times were recorded.

The run typically attracts about 40 percent church members and teachers, mostly from Walter White. The run was promoted through postcards sent home with students.

A number of students and teachers also braved the chilly air to participate. The Westport 4-H chapter was well represented also.

This year's event featured a photo booth where runners could have their photo taken with a giant turkey costumed individual.

Liam John Davis, a Cesar Chavez Junior High School eighth-grader, came in first place in the 5K run with a time of 20 minutes, 53 seconds.

Second place went to Sarah Siegel with a time of 22:36.

Beyronneau said the event dropped the 10K run because participation was under 20 in years past.