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Buffalo's Turkey Trot just found a way to possibly keep a few more good runners in town or lure them back over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Race director Dan Loncto says the race is giving away airline tickets for two to London on US Airways.

This would usually only affect a handful of runners who run fast enough to win a race of nearly 5,000 runners, but Loncto and his committee are opening things up.

The airline tickets will be won in a drawing of not only the winning male and female runners, but the two masters winners and all the age group winners.

So that puts the odds for those winners picking up a free trip somewhere near 1 in 70.

And what about the rest of those who labor in obscurity at the Turkey Trot? There will be drawings for two other round-trips for two to anywhere in the continental United States for those who finish the race.

"US Airways was pretty good about stepping up to the plate," Loncto said.

The Turkey Trot is currently the third-largest 8K road race in the United States -- as well as the nation's oldest foot race -- behind San Diego's Union Trib Dr. Seuss Race for Literacy, with 5,196 finishers.

Loncto sees beating Dr. Seuss and his Cat in the Hat as a possibility, but not overtaking the first-place finisher, the LaSalle Banks Shamrock Shuffle and its 9,166 finishers.

Notice a key word there, finishers. It doesn't matter how many people you have sign up, it's the number who cross the line that counts.

So the ticket drawings will be limited to those who finish the race. And, you must be present to win at the award ceremonies. There will be no sneaking home for an early start on Thanksgiving Day dinner if you want a shot at the free travel.

Jackpot at the finish line

Real money is the lure for this year's Casino Niagara Marathon on Oct. 22. Race director Jim Ralston has put together a $20,000 purse for winners in the race that starts in downtown Buffalo and then follows much of the old Skylon International Marathon course to Niagara Falls, Ont.

As always with an international marathon, you need to pay attention to details because of the problem of clearing Customs. In this case, applications have to be in the marathon's office by 5 p.m. on Oct. 8. And all runners must clear Customs between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Oct. 21, the day before the race, at the Brock Plaza Hotel.

For more information or an application, call (905) 356-6061. For more technical questions, call Ralston at (905) 356-9460. Or check the marathon's Web site at niagarathon.html.

John Beishline, the race operations director for the American side, is calling a meeting of all traffic volunteers on the U.S. side for 7:30 p.m. Oct. 11 at the Wendelville Fire Hall, 7340 Campbell Blvd., Pendleton.

Calling all Iron Girls

Helen Knox Keilholtz is using the family genes for business. Her great-grandfather, Seymour H. Knox Sr., was one of the early partners in Woolworths, and Keilholtz is the founder of a company called Iron Girl, which sells sports apparel to female athletes.

Keilholtz began the company in Alpine, Calif., in January 1999 and a short time later brought eight-time Iron Man Triathlon winner Paula Newby-Fraser into the company. In 1992, running under her maiden name, Knox was the only female triathlete besides Newby-Fraser to do a triathlon two weeks after the Iron Man.

Their company is on the Web at, or call for a catalog at 1-800-732-1046.

Upcoming races

Linda Yalem Memorial Run, UB Amherst campus, (Buffalo News Runner of the Year race), 5K, 10 a.m., today, 645-2982, or; Charlene D. Page Memorial 5K Run, D'Youville College, 11:30 a.m., Sat., 30, 515-0608, 881-7702; Erie County Parks, Recreation and Forestry Autumn Challenge, 5K European cross country run, Sprague Brook Park, 10 a.m., Sat., 858-8355; Nickel City Duathlon and 2.5-mile road race, Beaver Island State Park, 10 a.m., Sat., 689-2493; Ellicottville Fall Festival, 4.5 miles, Holiday Valley, 10 a.m., Oct. 7, 834-9028.

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