Saturday's Turkey Trot caters to runners, joggers, walkers

With distances that cater to the tastes of running enthusiasts, joggers and casual walkers, the Penn State New Kensington Turkey Trot gets under way at 10 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 17, at the campus Athletics Center.

A 33-year tradition at the campus, the pre-Thanksgiving race has grown from an informal weekday 2-miler into a classic weekend 5K, a 3.1-mile run through Upper Burrell. Held in conjunction with the 5K is a low-key 1-mile fun run or walk that starts at 10:15 a.m.

The feature race begins at the Athletics Center, crosses the upper parking lot and heads down Myers Drive to the turnaround point. Participants then backtrack to the finish line at the Athletics Center. The 1-miler will stay within the parameters of the campus.

Fourth-year race coordinator Pepsi Umberger, instructor in kinesiology at the campus, developed the three-race format to accommodate alumni, friends and families in the local communities. The Saturday date and open registration dovetails with Chancellor Kevin Snider’s vision of using the resources of Penn State to engage the community and enhance the quality of life in the region. In addition, Umberger has partnered with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to help children and adults with the debilitating disease.

"November kicks off the holiday season, and it is a great time of year to create a level of health and wellness awareness in the community and among students, faculty and staff," said Umberger, who also serves as director of the campus’ intramurals program. "I believe people are looking for fun events and good causes to get together with family and friends."

The entry fee is $15 for college and high school students with ID, $20 for campus faculty and staff, and $25 for local residents. A special family fee of $25 allows four family members to participate in the distances of their choosing. Frozen turkeys will be awarded to the winners of each of the four age categories: 18-24, 25-32, 33-44, and 45 and over. All registrants receive a Turkey Trot T-shirt and goodies bag.

All proceeds benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Western Pennsylvania Chapter. Cystic fibrosis is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 children and adults in the United States. A defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that clogs the lungs, leads to life-threatening lung infections, obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down and absorb food.

In the 1950s, few children with cystic fibrosis lived to attend elementary school. Today, advances in research and medical treatments have further enhanced and extended life for children and adults with CF. Many people with the disease can now expect to live into their 30s, 40s and beyond.

"It is a great time of year to reach out and get people involved in a great cause," said Umberger, who earned a master’s degree in sports administration from Kent State University. "The race provides fun for the campus and community, while benefiting people who are impacted by Cystic Fibrosis."

Last year, 100 runners took up the challenge, and the race raised more than $2,000 for the family of Patrolman Derek Kotecki, the Lower Burrell police officer who was slain in 2011 in the line of duty.

For more information, contact Umberger at 724-334-6747 or


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Last Updated November 15, 2012