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Runners compete at O’Briley 5K Turkey Trot despite snowy conditions

Runners take off at the start of the third annual O'Briley 5K Turkey Trot on the Farmington River Trail in Collinsville Thursday.

Runners take off at the start of the third annual O’Briley 5K Turkey Trot on the Farmington River Trail in Collinsville Thursday.

COLLINSVILLE, Nov. 27 – The O’Briley 5K Thanksgiving Turkey Trot isn’t your average road race. 

It has the feel of a family event. It’s small and casual. Nearly everyone knows someone at the race. It’s a chance to take a run, smile and share laughs with new and old friends. There no electronic timers in the race bibs. You want to know your time? Turn your head to the left when you cross the finish line and check for it on a portable timing clock. 

Thursday’s O’Briley 5K Turkey Trot was a challenge for the 80 or so runners that ran the 3.1 mile course. Snow and freezing rain on Wednesday left the course covered in slick snow and ice. It slowed the runners down but didn’t stop them. 

“You had to be a lot more careful with every movement. We definitely had to use a shorter stride,” said Rohn Heidgerd of Cheshire. 

Nathan Scott was the top runner in the race, crossing the finish line in 19:40. Angela Heidgerd won the women’s race for the second straight year with a winning time of 24:31. Twelve-year old Alyssa Peters won the one-mile kids run race. 

“There wasn’t good traction,” West Hartford’s Travis Lytle said. “Your feet would slip on you.” Travis ran with his 14-year-old son Colby. He runs a road race each Thanksgiving, usually the famous Manchester Road Race. But he knows race organizer Michael Riley and Colin O’Brien. As owner of Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine Center in Avon, he helped them train to run in races at the Hartford Marathon. In fact, many of the participants know Riley or O’Brien and that’s what brings them to Collinsville to run. 

Joe Vacca runs across the bridge near the Farmington River in Collinsville during Thursday's O'Briley 5K Turkey Trot.

Joe Vacca runs across the bridge near the Farmington River in Collinsville during Thursday’s O’Briley 5K Turkey Trot.

Weston Zeiner (120) leads Brian Vo and other runners toward the finish.

Weston Zeiner (120) leads runners toward the finish.

Kids take off at the beginning of a one mile kids' run.

Kids take off at the beginning of a one mile kids’ run.

Each year, Riley and O’Brien donate a portion of the proceeds to a local charity. This year, they’re donating $3,750 to help fight Parkinson’s disease. A year ago, they donated $2,500 to the American Cancer Society. Racers also made donations of food that was presented to the Canton Food Bank. 

The race is run on the Farmington Valley River trail, starting just past the Crown and Hammer restaurant, close to the bridge to the railroad bridge that spans the Farmington River.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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