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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Cottonwood Heights Thanksgiving 5K: A 29-Year Tradition

Oct 31, 2014 10:42AM ● By Sherry Sorensen

The average American consumes more than 3,000 calories on Thanksgiving Day.

With that staggering figure in mind, many individuals choose to combat the increased caloric intake with a bit of pre-feast exercise.

In Cottonwood Heights, that means an opportunity to start the morning with a race against the mayor during the 29th Annual Thanksgiving Day 5K.

"Anyone who can beat the mayor gets a commemorative ribbon. Each year, we give out less because he's getting faster and faster," said Mike Petersen, Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center director.

Mayor Kelvyn Cullimore Jr. said his goal is to someday cross the finish line in less than 30 minutes.

This year's event will kick off at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 27. The race begins and ends at the recreation center, 7500 South 2700 East. Runners will head east from the facility, winding through the neighborhood on an out–and-back course.

Participants who register before Nov. 1 are guaranteed a long-sleeved tech shirt at packet pick-up. Registration is available online at or in person at the Cottonwood Heights Recreation Center. The cost is $25 per adult runner and $20 for children 11 and under. Prices increase by $5 after Nov. 21.

Entry is limited to the first 2,000 runners.

Prizes will be awarded to the top five runners, male and female, in each age division and the top male and female finishers overall. The fastest Cottonwood Heights residents will receive trophies.

"It's a unique, family-friendly race," Cullimore said. "I like to encourage physical fitness, and if an old mayor can run it, other people should, too."

In 1985, a mere 150 residents participated in the inaugural running of the race under the guidance of race organizer and director Jeff Arbgast, a track and field coach at Bingham High School and an inductee into the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

From there, the recreation center took charge, and slowly the race began to grow.

Nine years ago, when the city incorporated and partnered with the recreation center on the race, the incentive to beat the mayor was added. Participation was roughly 400 runners that year.