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Happy finish in tale of two Turkey Trots
Both Turkey Trot races go well

 Rabah Sbitani (center) of Fredericksburg organized the 'rogue' Turkey Trot in response to the official race's move.
SUZANNE CARR ROSSI/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 11/23/2012

BY BILL FREEHLING

A simple question was posed on the back of the orange T-shirts given to the first 80 "rogue runners" who showed up at Thursday morning's unofficial Turkey Trot run in downtown Fredericksburg: "Where did all the turkeys go?"

The answer, for the most part, was that they had flocked to Central Park.

The official Thanksgiving morning Turkey Trot started at the Fredericksburg Expo and Conference Center this year and snaked its way through Celebrate Virginia and Central Park. The race had been downtown for the past 19 years, but organizers moved it this year due to its growth and subsequent complaints from some residents along the course who were unable to travel to and from their homes for holiday gatherings.

About 3,600 people signed up for the five-kilometer Turkey Trot, and another 600 children did the one-mile run that started before the main event, said race director Terry McLaughlin. Parking lots and sidewalks in Central Park teemed with people and strollers, perhaps providing a preview of the Black Friday madness soon to come. People dressed up as Gumby, Indians, Pilgrims, Thanksgiving dinner and the Burger King mascot, and the race featured lots of strollers and dogs.

Meanwhile a smaller crowd of about 150 runners gathered at 9 a.m. outside the Central Rappahannock Regional Library headquarters on Caroline Street to participate in the "rogue" Turkey Trot race. Fredericksburg resident Rabah Sbitani, who has participated in the downtown race with his family for many years, organized the event in the past week after finding out that the race had been moved. Word traveled fast through Facebook and news articles.

Sbitani used Google Maps to draw up a five-kilometer course that showcased downtown's most picturesque sites, including the Rappahannock River, Caroline Street, Washington Avenue and the many historic landmarks in between.

Sbitani handed out cards to runners offering turn-by-turn directions and added some markings to the course, but most people just followed the runners ahead of them. No roads closed to traffic, and the few cars that were encountered along the course happily yielded to runners. Participants brought canned goods and monetary donations for the Fredericksburg Area Food Bank.


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