MARLBOROUGH – Hundreds of eager runners gathered at Marlborough’s Ghiloni Park on Nov. 26 to participate in the Highland City Striders’ Tough 10 and Fast 5 Turkey Trot races.
Participants had the option of running the 5-mile or the 10-mile course.
The Highland City Striders is a group of 190-plus runners from Hudson, Marlborough, and the surrounding communities. According to Peter Bakkala, the president of the Highland City Striders, the group has two main focuses: running and charity.
“We really drive our club to support the sport of running and to support the local community. Sometimes we have races that provide resources to the food pantry. Other times we donate to the adult rehabilitation center – or any variety or number of causes. We just believe that the community is enriched with people who stay fit… and people who give back to the community. That’s what we’re about,” he said.
Instead of paying to run the race, participants were instructed to donate 15 nonperishable food items to enter. As runners arrived, they placed canned goods in the back of two pickup trucks, completely filling the truck beds.
Bakkala said the event collected over 3,000 canned goods, which will be donated to the Marlborough Community Cupboard.
“That’s going to provide hundreds of meals to families right in our own community,” Bakkala said.
Local businesses throughout the area donated the prizes for the event’s top finishers.
Bakkala also thanked the event volunteers who kept the runners safe.
The Highland City Striders’ Turkey Trot was its 20th annual race.
“It is a reminder to take stock in where you are, what you do in the community, and that there are others more in need… As people think about the holidays, it really does prompt you to give back. We hold this on Sunday so it doesn’t compete with other races and [also] because folks who had that extra piece of pie can run it off today,” Bakkala said.
More information about the Highland City Striders is available at https://highlandcitystriders.org/.