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Webster Turkey Trot reaches golden anniversary

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The Webster Turkey Trot attracts thousands to Lake Road in 2017.

What started as a high school cross country workout in 1972 is now the second-largest annual running event in Rochester.

The 50th annual Webster Turkey Trot takes off Thursday morning around Lake Road. Expect traffic in the area to shut down for about an hour at 8:30 a.m.

Fleet Feet’s Ellen Brenner and her husband, David Boutillier, took over the event roughly two decades ago. With about 3,200 participants, she said this year’s race is expecting a big uptick in participation.

“Our region was in orange zone and yellow zone, so people were really nervous with COVID and rightfully so, but this year people want to get out, they want to be with family,” Brenner said. “To be able to come back two years later after COVID and say that we have upwards of 3,000 people, that's pretty incredible and extremely unexpected.”

Participants will walk or run 4.4 or 2.5 miles, either in person or virtually. Brenner expects the vast majority of people to do the race in person.

Proceeds go to Hope House of Webster, Jim May Scholarship Fund and Section Five Cross Country Camps.

May is the event’s founder and a former Webster High School cross country coach. He and many of his former students return each year to greet people who finish the race.