Families make Turkey Trot a part of their holiday

Along with many others, this little baby boy participated in the 5th annual Burbank Community YMCA Turkey Trot Kids Run in Burbank on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

More than 2,000 people participated in Burbank Community YMCA’s fifth annual Turkey Trot on Thursday morning and, for some Burbank residents, it’s become a part of family Thanksgiving celebrations.

“I like that we’re shifting the paradigm — activity, not indulgence,” said Jill Vander Borght, 34, who has participated in the event since its inaugural year. “I usually enjoy indulging more when I’ve been active.”

The event, which featured competitive 5K and 10K races, a 5K “Fun Run” and a short “Kiddie Run” for children 9 years old and younger, raises money for the organization’s membership assistance program, which helps children and families have access to YMCA programs regardless of their ability to pay.

PHOTOS: Thanksgiving begins with fifth annual Turkey Trot for 2,000 runners

For Vander Borght’s family, it’s a tradition that spans three generations. Her dad, former Burbank Mayor Jef Vander Borght, has been running it alongside her for years, as have her husband, Tom Crowther, and their two children Clarke, 2, and Everly, 4, who’s been part of the Turkey Trot since she was about six months old.

FOR THE RECORD: An earlier version of this post stated Everly, 4, has been part of the Turkey Trot since she was in the womb. In fact, she was about six months old.

Jill Vander Borght said that in addition to the regulars, they’re often joined by other family members, including siblings and cousins and “whoever we can recruit.” This year, her sister Kary Rappaport ran along with Rappaport’s daughter Lucy.

“We finally recruited mom last year,” Jill Vander Borght said, referring to Susan Vander Borght, 60, who finished second in the female 60-64 age category this year.

The top male and female finishers in each age group in the competitive races received $250 cash prizes, and the top three men and women by age group got commemorative awards.

“I’m not in it for time or speed or anything,” said Susan Vander Borght, adding that it’s about doing “some good for our bodies.”

She called herself a “very casual runner,” but she said activity is a key to having a quality life. Supporting the YMCA is a way of ensuring all members of the Burbank community have someplace where they can be active, she said.

“It’s a great place to have activities that are healthy,” Jef Vander Borght said.

For him, the Turkey Trot is “just the logical extension of supporting the Y.” He said it also brings the community together for the holiday.

“You never know who you’re going to run into,” he said, adding that he’s seen people at the run that he hadn’t seen in years. “We’ve also seen it grow substantially over the years.”

Last year, the event drew more than 2,500 participants, a record number according to YMCA officials.

Crowther said he thinks of it as a fun way to kick off the holiday season and acknowledge the community that he said makes the YMCA a great place.

“Why not bring everyone together around the holidays and celebrate that?” he said.

Jill Vander Borght, who said she’s not an avid runner but is a fitness enthusiast, said it’s also an opportunity to model healthy behavior for their children.

But while the event has become a part of the family’s celebration, the Vander Borghts say it doesn’t get in the way of other Thanksgiving traditions.

“Before you know it, it’s done,” Jef Vander Borght said. “You can be home by 9 a.m. or 9:30 a.m. easily.”

That leaves plenty of time to prepare for the traditional feast.

“I still plan to cook my usual green-bean casserole,” Jill Vander Borght said.