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Thanksgiving is ‘biggest running day in America’

November 22, 2011

Cumberland’s Chris Magill will be among the 1,300 participants in tomorrow’s inaugural Willow Tree Family Turkey Trot 5K and Kids 1K in Providence.

When it comes to Thanksgiving Day and sports, the one thing that comes to most people's mind is football with the traditional high school games that are played each year and the NFL tripleheader that annually features the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions in two of the respective contests.
According to accomplished race director Charlie Breagy, Turkey Day is a popular holiday for another sport, too.
“It's the biggest running day in America,” he confirmed. “I guess a lot of people do it because they know they are going to eat a big dinner later.”
In Rhode Island and it vicinity, there are several races for runners to find on Thursday this Thanksgiving and Breagy has decided to join the party with his inaugural Willow Tree Family Turkey Trot 5K and Kids 1K. The race begins and ends on Sabin Street in Providence, right in front of the R.I. Convention Center.
The event has attracted 1,300 participants with two days remaining to register on site. For a first-time race, the Turkey Trot has exceeded its goal set by Breagy and his race committee.
“I think one of the reasons this is successful is there is no Thanksgiving Day race in Providence,” he said. “The number two reason is we have rented out the convention center.”
The convention center will not only be the official race headquarters and host the post-race party (with entertainment), but its parking lot will provide an additional 2,000 indoor parking spaces besides the 6,000 that can be used at the adjacent Providence Place Mall.
On a potential cold day, the facility is a rare commodity that most other races don't have.
“It's a good family-oriented race, featuring family-oriented teams,” said Breagy, while making reference to one of six different team categories. “The convention center gives the whole family a place to get together. It has all the comforts of home, a nice warm place. After finishing the race, just go right inside the door for food and entertainment.”
The course for the Turkey Trot is the same used by Breagy's Monster Mini Dash 5K in October and the upcoming Downtown Jingle 5K. It's a relatively flat course that begins at the R.I. Convention Center, takes a left onto Empire Street and another left onto Westminster Street. It continues up College Street, takes a right onto South Main Street and hooks around to South Water Street and heads back to the convention center by way of Dyer Street, Westminster Street and Empire Street.
The Kids 1K race, open to youths that are age 14 and under, starts at 9:15 a.m. The main event kicks off at 10. On-site registration and race number pick-up will be held today at the convention center from noon to 6 p.m. and on race day, starting at 8 a.m.
Breagy states there are still about 200 long-sleeved tech shirts available. For additional info., check out the race's website at
Less that two weeks after the Turkey Trot on Dec. 4 is Breagy's second annual Downtown Jingle 5K (and Kid's Elves 1K), a competitive and fun event where participants are encouraged to dress in their favorite holiday costumes. Last year's race, which was won by former St. Raphael Academy standout Chris Magill, had nearly 2,100 finishers.
“The first 2,000 get long-sleeved tech shirts,” said Breagy, who indicated 1,200 have already pre-registered. “In addition, everyone gets jingle bells to run with.”
The race's website is Both races (Turkey Trot, Jingle 5K) use the state-of-the-art B-tag timing system.
A local race that's worth checking out on Saturday is the inaugural Nicholas Ryan Silva 5K in Pascoag at 11 a.m. The event was created to honor the former Burrillville High wrestler and all-state football player, who was killed in an automobile accident last November at age 24.
“We thought about doing it four months ago,” said Francis Silva, older brother of the race's namesake and one of several dedicated organizers of the event. “A lot of people were saying that you couldn't do a race in that short of time. We already have over 150 people (registered) and over 50 sponsors. It's pretty unbelievable the amount of support we have gotten from Burrillville. It's incredible.”
One of the race's five primary sponsors is Serio's Pizza where the late Silva and his older brother - also an all-state gridder for the Broncos - once worked. Serio's will provide food, the water stations and a huge tent at the finish area.
The race's takes place on a scenic, out-and-back course that begins at White Mill Park on 1 East Wallum Lake Road in Pascoag. It USATF sanctioned and accurately measured by Ray Nelson.
“The beginning of the race has a pretty steep incline,” Francis Silva said. “The race is challenging.”
The overall victors will receive a $100 cash prize and awards will be given in seven different age categories. There will also be post-race refreshments, music and a raffle. Anyone who wishes to pre-register can still do so online before midnight on Friday at Registration also takes place on race day.
The race will benefit the Nicholas Ryan Silva Foundation, which is set up to provide scholarship money for post-high school education.

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