BILLINGS — Despite a small morning snow flurry, 2,572 runners turned out in downtown Billings to preemptively burn some Thanksgiving calories with the Run! Turkey Run! 5K and Street Mile races Thursday.
“Last year we were in the 50s, this year we are in the 20s. But people still come out every year because it is a family event and it helps people in our community all year long to out run hunger," said race co-director Cathy Cullen.
The 5K kicked off at 9 a.m. with the starting gun fired by Billings Mayor Bill Cole.
People trotted through the light snowfall on the streets of downtown Billings, some dressed in their finest turkey-related and Christmas attire.
Waiting at the finish line for everyone of age was a commemorative pint glass and a token to fill it with a beer.
Following the 5K, at 10 a.m. the street mile dash was started.
The run acts as a fundraiser for local food pantries that help the Billings community out run hunter. This year, the run benefited Meals on Wheels, Family Service, The Billings Backpack Program, the MSUB Yellowjacket Emergency Pantry and Rocky Mountain College Bear Cupboard.
“Everybody really helps out during the holidays, but these organizations help feed our friends and neighbors all year long," Cullen said. "So we just want to give them a shot in the arm with some financial support in December and so hopefully they keep their programs going all year long.”
Cullen said the goal this year was to raise a total of $50,000 to divide among the five charities.
Over the past eight years, Run! Turkey Run! has been able to give $225,000 to local food pantries.