CANTON, Nov. 24 – It began with a handful of people five years ago. Now, there are nearly 400 people coming to Collinsville on Thanksgiving morning to run.
The fifth annual O’Briley Turkey Trot was held Thursday morning with hundreds of local runners racing 3.1 miles along the Farmington Valley River Trail. The growth of the race can be seen in the traffic on the course.
Race winner Marc Robacyznski of Avon collided with another runner after turning around and heading back to Collinsville. The athletes run out 1½ mile and turn around and return to Collinsville. Neither one was hurt.
Robaczynski, who won the race with a time of 17:03.47, laughed about the incident afterward. He was pleased to come out, run and support a local event.
Community support has been at the heart of this event since organizers Colin O’Brien and Mike Riley began the race in 2012. Each year, they donate the proceeds to a worthy cause that has touched the lives of people in Canton. Previous recipients have been the Canton Food Bank and the American Cancer Society. One year, donates went to fight Parkinson’s disease.
This year, they chose to raise money for pediatric cancer research at St. Jude’s Research Hospital. Before the race, runners donated nearly $2,000 in online donations. With a generous corporate donation, the race raised $15,000 for St. Jude’s Research.
“This event has grown in size from a meager 20 people four years ago to around 400 people in 2016,“ race co-host Colin O’Brien said. “It really is a testament to living in a great community. Mike Riley, my co-host and I are extremely humbled by what this event has turned into.”
O’Brien thanked sponsors Jules Poirier, Ward Kilduff Mortgage and Stephanie May of Mr. Trophy along with photographers John Fitts (Canton Compass) and Brett Soderberg. Canton High cross country and track and field coach Tim O’Donnell donated his services to time the race.
Robaczynski was the top runner in the race followed by Ron Lombardi and Connor Page. The top three women in the race were Burlington’s Mary-Lynn Currier, Candice Casey and Nichole Donzella.
Currier has been a local fixture at road races throughtout Connecticut. She ran with her son in the race. “I ran to fight cancer,” Mary-Lynn Currier said. “I ran hard, like the children who fight hard to beat the cancer. There is a great community spirit in Collinsville and I hope the tradition carries on, Thank you O’Brileys for helping fight cancer with your race.”