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Runners converge from all around for today's Turkey Day 10K road race

WORTHINGTON -- With more than 600 runners expected to participate today, the Turkey Day 10K road race will commence for the 27th straight year at 10:30 a.m.

There are several things that attract runners of all ages to Worthington for this annual event, which dubs itself as "not your ordinary road race."

"We do our best to ensure that the runners have a positive experience here in Worthington," event coordinator Jerry Fiola said. "We do a lot of things to create a party-like atmosphere for the runners."

One thing Fiola and the Okabena Bay Area Striders have incorporated into the race is the playing of upbeat music on lawns located around Lake Okabena, which runners circle as part of the 6.2-mile race.

Hundreds of appreciative spectators typically tune their radios to 95.1 FM (KWOA) during the race and listen to music that has been uniquely selected by the OBAS for the enjoyment of the runners.

With a festive vibe surrounding them, the runners can further enjoy the beautiful and scenic route around the lake.

"The course is one of our best features," Fiola said. "It's a natural course, and it's certified by USATF, so people know the length is accurate."

Along with the jovial environment comes premier competition, as both of last year's men's (Moses Waweru) and women's (Desiree Budd) champions return to defend their crowns.

Several other former winners and top-notch runners will also be in contention, including nearly 70 collegiate cross country runners from Dordt College, Morningside College and Northwestern University.

Joining the upper-tier runners will be several other veterans and even a few rookies, which is the case for four individuals who participated in a 20-week program conducted by the YMCA, and will run in a road race for the first time ever today.

Here are a few other intriguing stories:

l Jerry Muldoon, a chiropractor from Slayton, will run in the race and push his father in a wheelchair.

l Steve Fleace, from Foley, will be competing in his 20th Turkey Day 10K today. He completed a 50-mile race a week ago, and will run in a 100K road race in October.

l Paula Folkers, another 20-year veteran from Blair, Neb., will be running today. She was recently named National Mrs. 2006.

Runners still looking to register can do so from 8:30 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. at the corner of 10th Street and 6th Avenue.

The race will begin at the corner of 10th Street and 7th Avenue and finish at the corner of 10th Street and 3rd Avenue.

Refreshments, T-shirts designed by Bob Artley, and cash prizes are among the other features runners can look forward to.

Rated "favorite race, most fun, best T-shirt and food" by Running and Track Minnesota readers for three straight years, the Turkey Day 10K will once again be another highlight as Worthington celebrates King Turkey Day.