In past years, A.J. Fitzsimmons served as a volunteer at the Turkey Day Run and Gobble Wobble. On Thursday, he celebrated victory in the race.
Fitzsimmons won the 34th annual event on Thanksgiving Day with a time of 15 minutes, 5 seconds, over a 5-kilometer course through the streets of downtown Charleston on a sunny, cool and breezy morning.
Fitzsimmons, a Mount Pleasant resident, attended Bishop England High School and was a member of the school's track and field and cross country teams until he graduated in 2009. The school required students to do community service projects, and one way Fitzsimmons met his requirements was to serve as a volunteer for the event, which is a fundraising project of the Rev. P. N. Lynch Council No. 704 of the Knights of Columbus.
"I got five credit hours for volunteering," said Fitzsimmons, who attends Winthrop and just completed the cross country season. "I guess you could say I've gone full circle."
Lauren Goss, a 23-year-old Mount Pleasant native who graduated from Wando and Clemson, repeated as the women's division champion with a time of 17:01. Goss, one of the country's most promising triathletes, won last year's event in 17:36.
Goss' winning time was three seconds faster than former Summerville High School standout Carre Heineck of Portland, Ore. Rives Poe
of Charleston placed third with a time of 17:30.
Fitzsimmons was two seconds ahead of second-place finisher Matthew DeVillers of Mount Pleasant. Another Mount Pleasant resident, Robert Alvarado, finished third in a time of 15:12.
"I've worked a few of these, and started running in the race when I was a senior in high school," Fitzsimmons said. "There weren't any Kenyans here this year, so that was nice. It was a good day to run. The competition was good and it felt good to win."
Fitzsimmons finished sixth last year, in a time of 15:36, which was 41 seconds behind David Cheromei, who became the first Kenyan to win the Turkey Day Run.
Goss was a member of the Wando swimming team and started competing in triathlons when she enrolled at Clemson. Last year's Turkey Day race was only the third time she ran a 5K.
Goss is faring well as a triathlete. USA Triathlon honored her as the 2010 Female Under-23 Athlete of the Year.
"I just competed in Panama and drove back here," Goss said. "It's just good to race, and today was a speed workout. It's good to get a race like this under your belt. My next focus is the Olympic trials, which will be held in May in San Diego."
A record 6,052 runners and walkers entered this year's event, and 5,554 crossed the finish line.
Turkey Day Run
Age group winners
9-and-under: A.J. Allenspach 23:22. 10-14: Jackson Ellenberg 18:26. 15-19: Layne Mather 16:20. 20-24: Wells Johnson 16:42. 25-29: Nate Bergeron 16:46. 30-34: Hudson Belk 16:52. 35-39: Jeff Baxter 16:57. 40-44: Eric Allers 18:04. 45-49: Jerome Brinkley 17:57. 50-54: Mike Seekings 18:06. 55-59: Andy Tedesco 19:12. 60-64: Bob Schlau 20:24. 65-69: Steven Annan 21:33. 70-and-over: Stephen Comer 23:56. Masters: Greg Brown 17:20. Grand Masters: Marc Embler 17:51.
Age group winners
9-and-under: Kate Spychalski 24:21. 10-14: Sophie Ebihara 19:27. 15-19: Brooke Grice 19:17. 20-24: Natalie Stroll 19:18. 25-29: Katherine Logemann 19:19. 30-34: Jessica Bowman 19:41. 35-39: Michelle Worth 20:17. 40-44: Camelia Marculescu 19:44. 45-49: Kelly Hazel 20:33. 50-54: T. Rossi 22:33. 55-59: Carol Ball 24:04. 60-64: Mary Mauldin 24:05. 65-69: Joan Mulvihill 27:30. 70-and-over: Anita Krisher 34:26. Masters: Sarah Allers 19:15. Grand Masters: Ann Elish 22:11.