CANTON, Nov. 23 – Six years ago, the O’Briley 5K Turkey Trot was a little 3.1 mile road race on Thanksgiving morning amongst 30 friends along the Farmington Valley River Trail in Collinsville.
In the last three years, the participation in the race has blossomed. On Thursday, more than 500 runners participated in the O’Briley 5K Turkey Trot. Bristol’s Spencer Johnson, a senior at Marist College, won the race in record time while 13-year-old Storrie Kulynch-Irvin of Annapolis, Maryland won the women’s race – also in record time.
As they have been each year, proceeds from the race are donated to charity. This year, proceeds will be donated to the St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in New York City. Race organizers and founders Michael Riley and Colin O’Brien hope to donate close to $10,000.
They hope to clear $5,000 from the race and get another $5,000 match from O’Brien’s employer – Bristol Myers Squibb. In five years, the race has raised more than $21,000 for the St. Jude’s Children Research Hospital, the Canton Food Bank and an organization to fight Parkinson’s disease.
“It was completely unexpected to get this many participants. We had 300 register online and another 250 showed up and registered today which is fantastic,” Riley said. “We’re starting to burst at the seams a bit.”
Many of the runners were here because it was a local race. It starts earlier than the famous Manchester Road Race that attracts more than 11,000 runners and because the race is smaller, it can be easier to get to and easier to leave and get home for Thanksgiving.
Amy Lenoce of Durham liked the fact that a majority of the proceeds are donated to charity.
It was Johnson’s first visit to the O’Briley Turkey Trot. He wanted a race to help him prepare for his senior season at Marist College where he is a member of the track and field team. Johnson and Nicholas O’Brien ran together for the first mile before Johnson pulled away to win in a record time of 16:29, shattering the previous course record set a year ago by Avon’s Marc Robaczynski (17:03).
O’Brien, who graduated from Lewis Mills last June and lives in Burlington, finished second in 17:10 followed by Canton High senior Aidan O’Donnell, who was third in 17:52. O’Donnell also finished third here in 2015.
In the woman’s race, Kulynch-Irvin took the lead early and pulled away from defending champion and former course record holder Mary Lynn Currier, the former Burlington resident who now lives on Cape Cod.
Kulynch-Irvin is a middle school student who competes in cross country. She was with her family who are visiting relatives in Simsbury for the holidays. “I wanted to do a Turkey Trot and it seemed like a nice place to do it,” she said.
“She took the lead from the start and led the whole way,” Currier said. “She did a great job. It’s time for me to pass the torch to the next generation.” Kulynch-Irvin finished fourth overall in the race with a record time of 19:27 while Currier was tenth overall with time of 20:37.
Avon’s Alana Ledford finished third in her first visit to the race. “It was a good way to start the morning on Thanksgiving,” she said. “I knew it was close by and would be a pretty scenic run.” Ledford, a former marathon and half marathon runner, was 17th overall in the race.
Top three runners
Overall: Spencer Johnson, Bristol, 16:29, new course record. (Old record, Marc Robaczynski, Avon, 17:03.47, 2016); 2. Nicholas O’Brien, Burlington, 17:10, 3. Aiden O’Donnell, Canton, 17:52
Women: Storrie Kulynych-Irvin (4th overall), Annapolis, MD., new course record, 19:27. (Old record, Mary-Lynn Currier, Burlington, 20:05, 2016); 2. Mary Lynn Currier (10), Cape Cod, MA, 20:37; 3. Alana Ledford (17), Avon, 21:37
Previous O’Briley Turkey Trot winners
|Year||Men’s champion||Women’s champion|
|2017:||Spencer Johnson, Bristol (1), 16:29||Storrie Kulynych-Irvin, Annapolis, MD (4), 19:27|
|2016:||Marc Robaczynski, Avon (1), 17:03.47||Mary-Lynn Currier, Burlington, 20:05|
|2015:||Cameron Neeley (1), Canton, 18:59||Hannah Fusaro, Avon, 21:47|
|2014:||Nathan Scott (1), 19:40||Angela Heidgrid, 24:31|
|2013:||Casey O’Connor (1), 20:31||Angela Heidgrid, 23:23|
|2012:||Marc Robacyznski (1), Avon, 17:24||Unknown, 22:39|
Overall finish in parentheses