RUSSELL Elijah Slibeck playfully booed his dad, Jared, as he crossed the finish line of the Turkey Trot 5K.

More than 500 runners and walkers participated in the annual event. Five of them donned purple “Cousins Crew” T-shirts made by their grandmother, Suella Slibeck. They, like so many others, have made the Trot a family Thanksgiving tradition.

Eli Baker, a Rock Hill senior cross country and track athlete, blazed a trail to the finish in his first Turkey Trot. He wrapped up the 3.1-mile race in 16:55.

“I just wanted to do a race and this was the closest one,” said Baker, adding that it may figure into his annual plans going forward.

Temperatures hovered in the mid-to-high 30s, not ideal for Baker.

“I like it hot,” said the runner with seven years of experience.

It was slightly warmer for some who chose to pile on a few extra layers. Some dressed in festive fashion, including Neil Johnson who transformed into a turkey.

Tara Schneider, who sported a “I run because I like pie” shirt, was the first female finisher at 20:36.

Bennett didn’t lead the Slibeck clan in the race, but uncle Jared projected he’d probably pace the table in terms of turkey consumption later Thursday.. He’s on the rowing team at Columbia University, an Ivy League school in New York City.

“Bennett’s in training for crew,” Jared Slibeck said. “Those guys truck through a lot of calories.”

From oldest to youngest, cousins Bennett, Emma, Ella, Elijah and Eliza are part of a family tradition that entails convening for Thanksgiving in odd-numbered years. They get together for Christmas at Howard and Suella Slibeck’s house in even years. All five cousins took part in Thursday morning’s event in downtown Russell. Elijah, a high school junior who plays soccer, claimed the best race result.

Suella, like Turkey Trot organizer Ruthie Lynd, has been a key figure in Russell education. She was the first kindergarten teacher when Russell schools implemented a kindergarten program, Jared said.

Howard Slibeck has been an accountant for 47 years and is a faithful member of his Kiwanis club.

Jared, the baby of three siblings at 45 years old, Jason and Jana along with their families are in the area for a few days. Jana’s husband, Matt Francis, is the Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer’s executive editor. He couldn’t make the trip because of work obligations.

Jana attended Wellesley College in Massachusetts. Jason went to MIT. Jared played football and wrestled at Olivet Nazarene near Chicago.

The Slibeck bunch came to Russell from the following places: Owensboro, Indianapolis, New York, Boston and Vermont. Jason Slibeck started an organic farm in the Green Mountain State.

Several others traveled a long distance to northeastern Kentucky for the holiday. Six-year-old Bobby McKenzie, the grandson of Russell’s Mickey McKenzie, is from Kansas City. He finished third in the male 9-and-under division.

Proceeds from Thursday’s event go to Helping Hands of Greenup. Ruthie and John Lynd teamed up with Alan Osuch and his Tri-State Race Planning group to put on the event.

“Alan and his company, we teamed up and it’s a win-win,” Ruthie Lynd said. “Last year we were able to give over $4,000 to Helping Hands. It’s not just food; it’s clothing, it’s putting people back on their feet, it’s heat, electricity. The people that run (Helping Hands), they do it out of passion and love from their heart.”

The Turkey Trot began in the 1970s. It turned into an official 5K in 2018.


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