Brian Bohn was in town visiting friends Thursday when his wife discovered a holiday activity for the family.

Alongside his wife and children, the Chicago resident took part in the fifth annual Twin Cities Turkey Trot, which began at the Dwight P. Mitchell City Center Park.

“We try to do runs here and there,” Bohn said. “The key to not feeling guilty on Thanksgiving is to get out and do something the morning before. That’s my primary motivator of being here. I want to avoid the guilt that’s going to inevitably come later in the day.”

The run drew 560 participants on Thursday – a slight increase from a year ago.

Marianne Groth, president of the SWMI RACERS, organized the 5K run and walk around downtown Benton Harbor. The runners club partnered with the Benton Harbor Police Athletic League – an organization that helps provide leadership to local youth and attempts to form more positive relationships with law enforcement.

Groth said they chose the organization as the race’s beneficiary because the majority of SWMI RACERS events are held in Benton Harbor and require some police presence.

“I talked with (Benton Harbor Public Safety Director) Dan McGinnis about what we could do to help them out. He mentioned the organization,” she said. “Also, one of our board members has a husband who is a police officer for the city of Benton Harbor.”

The Benton Harbor race began through the Benton Harbor Parks and Recreation Conservancy, which created a charitable event that would raise money and introduce people to the parks in the area. SWMI RACERS took over the race permanently two years ago.

Groth said they had runners from California, Texas, Massachusetts, Alabama and several other states from the Midwest.

The race was almost hampered this year after a large portion of Riverview Drive was flooded Wednesday night.

Luckily, the course was dry before start time and a detour was not needed for the 3.1-mile race.

Groth said the race has become a family affair as groups of four or more people register together every year.

“We have several people who have been doing it every year,” Groth said. “It’s a great opportunity for family and friends to get out and get a little physical activity before they go and eat all day long. For us, we just saw a need here in the Twin Cities.”

Michael Kinney and his wife were running in the race for the third straight year.

They’ve taken part in several other 5K races through the years, including ones put on by Lory’s Place and the Sarett Nature Center.

“I just wanted to support the organizations that put on this event. It’s also good exercise,” said Kinney, a St. Joseph resident.

Will Callendar was accompanied by his girlfriend, family and dog, Simon, for Thursday’s race. The dog wore a turkey costume that Callendar bought for the race.

He had not taken part in the local Turkey Trot before, but chose to try something new with his family, who live in Riverside outside of Coloma.

“My girlfriend and her family have done them before, so we wanted to start something with our family as well,” said the Detroit resident.

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