ELKHART — Whether for tradition, a chance to burn calories before chowing down a scrumptious meal, to support a good cause — or all the above — thousands of people turned out to participate in Faith Mission’s 11th annual Turkey Stampede in downtown Elkhart on Thursday morning.

The event drew about 3,000 participants of all ages who were divided into three races: 10K, 5K or one-mile course. New this year, the starting and ending locations were at the Elkhart Health & Aquatics Center. Work on the facility was completed in July.

The Turkey Stampede is the Faith Mission of Elkhart’s biggest fundraiser, with all proceeds going to support the nonprofit organization, event organizer Paula Turk said.

“We don’t set a goal for how much we hope to raise,” Turk said. “This is also a community event. It’s to raise money but also to build a community.”

As in previous years, some runners sported traditional running gear, while numerous other embraced the theme of the event, showing up in turkey-inspired costumes or other accoutrements of the holiday. 

It was a family-friendly event with parents, children and pets coming out to support the event and the cause. 

“What makes this event special is we have the whole range here, from age 0 on up to 80 years old,” Turk said. “Everyone is together, and because it’s a holiday, everyone is in a good mood. Also, everyone is doing it at their own level. We have some people who may complete the one-mile course in 5 minutes, and others who may take up to 30. You don’t have to be a super athlete to participate.”

While there was no formal awards ceremony, all participants left with a finisher medal, and the top three finishers for men and women also received gift cards.

Finishing first in the 5K race was Landon Miller, 21, of Millersburg, who finished in 14 minutes and 47 seconds. 

This was Miller’s sixth year participating in the stampede, which he said is an annual family pre-Thanksgiving tradition. On top of that, it was his first time getting first place. 

“I was very happy to take the top award,” he said. “I run at Indiana Wesleyan and we had our national meet last week and I didn’t run great there, so it was great to be able to come and run a fast time in my local community. 

Finishing in third for 5K was Conner Sandt, 21, of Middlebury, whose time was 15 minutes and 15 seconds. Sandt placed first last year. 

“I really love to run and enjoy participating here," Sandt said. "It was more competitive this year, but I was happy with my time."

Brenda Toews, of Goshen, attended the event with her daughter, Sarah. 

Although the mother-daughter-duo time their run, they said they’re more focused on supporting the Faith Mission.

“This is our sixth or seventh year participating in this; it’s for a great cause and we love running together,” she said.

Registration fee for the Turkey Stampede was $15. In total, Turk estimated the event raised about $75,000 for Faith Mission.

Faith Mission serves the community as a resource for the homeless. It started in 1956. Christian-based, it provides food, shelter, clothing and other services. It is located at 801 Benham Ave. in Elkhart.

TURKEY STAMPEDE

TOP FINISHERS

10K: Male — Derek Miller  32:25, Craig Padgett 33:55, Michael Tomehaney 35:01. Female —  Liesl Muehlhouser 37:00 Jennifer Williams 41:19, Laura Gillette 41:35

5K: Male —  Landon Miller 14:47, Kent Yoder, 15:00, Conner Sandt 15:15. Female — Kristin Lauderback 18:27, Bekah Shenk 19:04 Jennifer Shrock 19:20

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