CLARK, NJ — The Westfield Turkey Trot, an annual Thanksgiving weekend tradition that usually takes place in Tamaques Park, was held in Oak Ridge Park Saturday due to COVID-19 considerations.

One hundred and forty runners participated in the 37th annual run at the site, with about 30 more participating virtually, scaled down from 2019’s 832 participants.

Except while she was pregnant with her second child last year, runner Erica Tricarico of Mountainside said she has run in every Turkey Trot since graduating from Westfield High School.

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“I always look forward to this race,” Tricarico said, “so when I found out it wasn’t virtual I was like, ‘Wonderful.’”

“People are thrilled to be here, just as we are,” said Tears Smith, head coordinator of Sports Action Reaction, which operates the run. “We’re getting a lot of good feedback. Everyone seems on board with the rules.”

Among the precautions: Limited attendance, staggered start times, masks while not running, no live ceremony for the awards and to-go bags with Bagel Chateau bagels and instant ramen noodle soup. The run was also 5 kilometers this year, instead of the usual 5 miles.

Fourteen members of the Central Jersey chapter of Team Red, White and Blue, including six veterans, participated in the run. The organization’s mission is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.

“This is a blast,” said Phil Laferrera, the chapter’s athletic director. “Whether it’s here again next year or in Westfield, we’ll be back.”

Glenn Saunders of North Plainfield participated in the race after suffering from COVID-19, which he was diagnosed with in April. His girlfriend died from the disease, he said.

“I’m very grateful that they had this race,” Saunders said. “With everything that’s happened to me, I want something that’s normal.”

Results are available at www.westfieldturkeytrot.com.  

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