Runners prepare to take their mark Thanksgiving morning


Thanksgiving is a holiday associated with families sitting around a table sharing in fellowship and a home-cooked meal.

However, for some there is a Thanksgiving tradition that involves a running a 5k to kick off their Thanksgiving Day festivities.

Dr. Abigail Levrini is one of those and it was the idea when she created the Psych Ed Connections Nocatee Turkey Trot seven years ago.

“I’m a lifelong runner and grew up doing turkey runs with my family and it was always a great tradition,” Levrini said. “But when I moved to the area, I couldn’t find any around here, so I decided to do something about it.”

This year’s run will be the seventh annual event, which used to have both 10k and 5k races, but now has just the 5k.

According to Levrini, it has been crazy to look back and see how much it has grown since she first turned her idea into a reality.

The course goes through the greenway trails, which interconnect Nocatee with greenway and preserve recreational options. Levrini believes the course makes for a fun and convenient route for families.

“We have a good relationship with Nocatee,” Levrini said. “There are also a lot of local businesses that get involved in the community by helping out.”

Because a family atmosphere is highly encouraged, strollers are welcome for families with smaller children and some even chose to roller blade the course last year.

Festive costumes and attire are popular sights worn by those in the race.

“It’s not your super competitive sanctioned race,” Levrini said. “We’re all about getting outside and having fun and doing so as a family.”

The event will help raise money for St. Johns Cares, which is an organization that helps spread out donations to a variety of partnered nonprofits within St. Johns County. St. Johns CARES will also organize the volunteers for the event.

“It’s great because they have connections with many local charities in the county, so you know it’s helping support a good cause and people who need the help,” Levrini said.

According to Levrini, an estimated 500 people took part last year and she expects similar numbers this year, if not more due to being yet another year removed from the pandemic and people’s former traditions almost fully restored.

The event will go on rain or shine, and packets can be picked up for those already registered at Orange Theory in Nocatee Nov. 23.

Same day registration will be accepted beginning at 6:30 a.m. at 400 Nocatee Center Way in Ponte Vedra Beach. The race itself will begin at 8 a.m. and awards for age group winners will be announced afterwards.

Nocatee Turkey Trot