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Runners brave frigid conditions to run on Thanksgiving morning

Runners take off at the start of the seventh annual O’Briley 5K Turkey Trot in Collinsville on Thursday morning. Race time temperature was 13 degrees. More race photos

CANTON, November 22 – It was 20 minutes before the start of the seventh annual O’Briley 5K Turkey Trot in Collinsville and there were few people in sight. The race’s volunteer staff manned a table on the Farmington River Trail near the Crown and Hammer and there were a few banners posted about the 3.1 mile race that was about to begin.

But as the clock ticked, the runners slowly began to emerge from their vehicles. It was a frigid 13 degrees and there was a slight breeze that made it feel even colder.

There were 316 runners that signed up to run and 162 runners that came out of their vehicles to run and raise money for the Lupus Foundation of America. They came prepared for the elements wearing hats, leggings, jackets and goggles.

“We’re blown away by the turnover,” race co-founder and organizer Colin O’Brien said. “There is hearty stock here in Canton. We greatly appreciate that this event continues to grow.”

Canton’s Max Sparks comes into the finish at the O’Briley 5K Turkey Trot in Collinsville Thursday morning. More race photos

Canton’s Max Sparks won the race by over a minute with a time of 16:29.3 over the course that was shortened slightly to 3.0 miles for safety reasons.

The freshman at Lynchburg University in Virginia is used to running in the cold. It was less than two weeks ago that he ran in the NCAA Division III national championships in Wisconsin in similar conditions with wind chills in the low 20s at race time.

“You just have to warm up well,” he said with a grin.

Sparks’ former teammate at Canton High, Aidan O’Donnell, was second with a time of 17:47.7. O’Donnell is a freshman at Carngie Mellon in Pittsburgh where he runs on the men’s cross country team that won the NCAA Division III Mideast regional title and was ranked No. 7 in the nation.

Canton’s Peter Keyo finished third with a time of 18:14.2.

Mary Lynn Currier won the women’s race for the second time in three years at the O’Briley 5K Turkey Trot. More race photos

Mary Lynn Currier won the women’s race for the second time in three years with a time of 21:29. Currier, a world-class marathon runner who grew up in West Hartford, has lived in the area for years. She was running because her son, Patrick, who attended Canton Intermediate School and later Lewis Mills in Burlington, wanted to run the event.

Mary Lynn Currier, who now lives in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, beat Avon’s Christine Neskie, who was second in the women’s race with a time of 22:07.4. Currier was seventh overall while Neskie was eighth overall.

Race organizers and founders Colin O’Brien and Michael Riley were busy all week leading up to race day. Riley and three volunteers helped hand shovel the railroad bridge on the Farmington River Trail earlier in the week after about four inches of heavy, wet snow fell in town.

Despite the frigid conditions, more than 160 runners finished the O’Briley 5K Turkey Trot in Collinsville on Thursday morning. More race photos

O’Brien and Riley were in Collinsville early Sunday morning with volunteers to help sand slippery areas on the race course.

There was another race in the area Thursday morning. The first Bottoms Up 5K Turkey Trot was held at Thompson Brook School in Avon with 101 runners finishing the race in the frigid conditions.

West Hartford’s Ethan Pinkes, a 16-year-old junior at Kingswood Oxford, won the first race with a time of 19:17 over 3.1 miles. The top woman in the race was Alison Gutermann, 28, of the Weatogue section of Simsbury who finished second in the race with a time of 20:17.

O’Briley 5K Turkey Trot
At Canton
Overall results – 1. Max Sparks, Canton, 16:29.3 for 3.0 miles, 2. Aidan O’Donnell, Canton, 17:47.7, 3. Peter Keyo, Canton, 18:14.2, 4. Dickson Suit, Avon, 20:35.7, 5. Owen Cottingham 20:57.8; 6. Leigh Appleby, Simsbury, 21:23.7; 7. Mary Lynn Currier, Buzzards Bay, MA, 21:29.8; 8. Christine Neskie, Avon, 22:07.4; 9. Jack Petry, 22:16.3, 10. Belle Magna, Canton, 22:27.6
Top five women: Currier 21:29.8 for 3.0 miles, Neskie 22:07.4, Magna 22:27.6; Samantha Betti (11th overall) 22:32.1, Caroline Deveau (14) 23:36.4
162 finishers
Race results:

Runners race toward the finish at the O’Briley 5K Turkey Trot in Collinsville on Thanksgiving morning. More race photos

Bottoms Up 5K Turkey Trot
At Avon
Overall results – 1. Ethan Pinkes, West Hartford, 19:17 for 3.1 miles (new course record); 2. Alison Gutermann, Simsbury, 20:17; 3. Peter Graves 20:18, 4. Tyler Donahue, Tokoyo, Japan, 21:04; 5. Casey Donahue, Washington, D.C., 21:22; 6. Tara Molson, Chicago, Ill., 21:40; 7. Noah Bingham, Garrison, N.Y., 21:56; 8. Erin McGuire, Avon, 21:59; 9. Ty White 22:00, 10. Ashleigh Stephan, Avon, 22:12
Top 10 women – 1. Alison Guterman, Weatogue section of Simsbury, (2nd overall) 20:17, 2. Tara Molson, Chicago (6) 21:41, 3. Erin McGuire ,Avon, (9) 21:59, 4. Ashleigh Stephan, Avon (11) 22:12, 5. Susan Giulietti (27) 24:41, 6. Brie McAndrew (30) 25:27, 7. Emily Gutermann, Weatogue, (31) 25:35, 8. Cynthia Gutermann, Weatogue (33) 25:56, 9. Allison Fitch-Molony, Boston (34) 25:57, 10. Kelly McPherson, Avon (36) 26:14.
106 finishers
Race results:

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 35 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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