Fort Washington Elementary celebrates start of holiday season with annual Turkey Trot

Fort Washington Elementary held its 30th annual Turkey Trot for about 650 K-6 students this morning. K-2 students ran a 1/2-mile loop around the school grounds and 3-6 graders completed a 1 1/2-mile course around nearby neighborhoods. Founder Dr. Robb Darrow said the purpose of the annual run is to bring the community together to promote running and celebrate the beginning of the Thanksgiving season. (Daniel Leon/Clovis Roundup)

Fort Washington Elementary School hit the ground running for its 30th annual Turkey Trot for about 650 K-6 students on Friday, Nov. 17.

Kindergarten, first and second grade students ran a 1/2-mile loop around the school grounds while third, fourth, fifth and sixth graders completed a 1 1/2-mile course around nearby neighborhoods. The K-2 students were off and running around 9:15 a.m. with most crossing the finish line minutes later. The second group of 3-6 grade students got going for their leg of the race around 9:45 a.m.

Dr. Robb Darrow, a former cross country coach who started the Turkey Trot 30 years ago, said the purpose of the run is to bring the community together to promote running and celebrate the beginning of the Thanksgiving season.

“This is an annual event to celebrate running with the community,” Darrow said. “When we started it in 1998, the purpose was just to bring people together. I was also the coach of the cross country team so that’s how I got involved. Now, [Fort Washington principal] Melanie [Hashimoto] and other principals have the opportunity to keep it going.”

Principal Hashimoto gave pre-race instructions as the emcee of the race and rallied the students with a “roll call.”

“This is an amazing event because the entire community pulls together to pull this off,” said Hashimoto. “We have PR Farms that donates snacks every year for this event and as you can see, there’s a lot of parents here supporting, too.”

Hashimoto added that the school is almost at its goal of 100 percent participation as 98 percent of the 640 students participated in the race.

Runners were sent off by Clovis West cheerleaders and the Kastner Intermediate School band, which added energy and excitement to the race. Parents and school staff members also came out to cheer on their kids and some even participated in the run.

“It’s become an annual tradition since we started it 30 years ago, and I think there’s parents out here supporting their kids that were probably students here at the time,” Darrow said. “It’s an annual thing that started out small but it has just grown in different ways over the years.”