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Almost Time for Turkey Trot

As Thanksgiving approaches and thoughts turn to turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie, many area residents are also anticipating another fall tradition — the 15th Annual Virginia Run Turkey Trot.

The 5K race and 2K walk will be held Thanksgiving morning, Thursday, Nov. 27, at 8 a.m. Proceeds benefit Life with Cancer, INOVA Health System's nonprofit program for cancer patients and their families. And that's been the case for the past 11 years.

"Last year we set a record, donating $33,500 to Life with Cancer," said race coordinator Dominic De Vincenzo. "This year, we hope to donate $35,000."

Normally, the race is run in honor of someone from the Virginia Run community who's succumbed to the disease during the year. But this year, for the first time, cancer didn't touch the neighborhood so, instead, the Turkey Trot is being dedicated to cancer survivors.

Last year's event attracted more than 1,500 runners and 750 walkers, and De Vincenzo hopes for that many or more participants, this time around. The number of walkers has especially increased dramatically in recent years, he said.

REGISTRATION IS available online at www.runwashington.com. Entry fees are $18 for runners and $13 for walkers, if registered by Nov. 21. Afterward, it costs $20 and $15, respectively. Prizes will be awarded to the speediest two males and females overall and to the fastest Virginia Run residents.

Top runners in various age categories will also receive prizes. In addition, all participants will receive long-sleeved, commemorative T-shirts, post-race snacks and raffle tickets for doorprizes. The race is USTA-certified and is part of the Racepacket series for runners in the Washington Metropolitan area.

"The logo for the T-shirt was designed by Westfield High senior Emily Kurkjian, whose mother died of cancer, several years ago," said De Vincenzo. "It shows a turkey running across a yellow-ribbon finish line, in support of the troops coming home [from Iraq]."

The race begins and ends at the Virginia Run Community Center, at Wetherburn Court, off Route 29 and Pleasant Valley Road in Centreville. Parking is at nearby Centreville Baptist Church and Virginia Run Elementary.

De Vincenzo's lived in Virginia Run since 1992 and has been on the

Turkey Trot committee for more than 10 years. "Many families in the community have been touched by cancer," he explained. "Turkey Trot is a remarkable event with wonderful, local participation. And many of the families we've dedicated the race to in the past write me a check to donate every year."

MAJOR SPONSOR is Carteret Mortgage Corp. The next largest contributors are Luck Stone Corp. and Mitchell Eye Institute. The race committee of 20 volunteers has been busily working since May, selecting the logo, soliciting sponsors and raising funds.

The most difficult part, said De Vincenzo, is "making sure every detail is taken care of, all the safety precautions are in place and the times are accurate." The best part, he said, is "when I write the check at the end of the year for Life with Cancer. When I first started, it was $6,000; now, it's more than $33,000. The community has really contributed to make this a very successful event."

Helping, too, are Bagel Buddies and Deer Park, providing bagels and water, respectively, for participants. Giant Foods contributes bananas, and Cox Farms donates apples, plus a hay wagon that serves as the announcing stand. Virginia Run's Greg Richter announces the results and contributes many of the raffle prizes. Boy Scouts direct parking, and Westfield High students help register people and distribute race packets. Said De Vincenzo: "I couldn't do it without them."