When Kenmore’s Liam Hilbert says it’s a lifelong dream to win a YMCA Turkey Trot, he isn’t kidding.
Hilbert has run the trot for 15 consecutive years in what has become a family tradition, but he’s only 23. His first one was at 9 years old.
He now has that victory after winning Thursday’s 8K race in 24 minutes, 43 seconds.
After a year in which the in-person field was restricted by Covid-19 protocols, more than 12,000 runners and walkers took to Delaware Avenue for the 126th edition of what is billed as the longest consecutively run footrace in North America.
University of Wisconsin runner and Nardin graduate Danielle Orie topped the women’s field in 27:57. Orie was home for Thanksgiving break after running in the NCAA Division I Championships last weekend.
Hilbert is a former Monsignor Martin champion in the 1,600 meters and 3,000 meters at St. Joe’s and went to run at the University at Buffalo. He was the Mid-American Conference outdoor champion in the 10,000 meters last spring.
Hilbert ran the race with his uncle, James Waldron, with whom he had run the his first few Turkey Trots.
“My family was there to cheer me on,” Hilbert said.
Buffalo’s Thomas Appenheimer was second in 24:27, followed by Steven Haagsma of Gowanda (25:00), Rush’s Brennan Root (25:09) and Rochester’s Paul Suflita (25:28). Appenheimer runs at Canisius College and finished 11th in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championships last month. Haagsma is a former Division III runner at Calvin College in Michigan.
For Orie, it’s been a busy fall in her first year at Wisconsin.
Orie ran for Penn as an undergraduate and transferred in the spring as she pursues her law degree. She finished 25th in the Big Ten Championships and then 22nd in the Great Lakes Region championship to qualify for the NCAAs. She finished 112th, covering the 6K in 20:34.2. Wisconsin finished 12th in the nation.
Sarah Danner of Gowanda was second in 28:21, followed by Pittsburgh’s Margo Malone in 28:38, Alexandra Cadicamo in 28:58 and Glenwood’s Aileen Hoak-Lange in 29:16.
Hoak-Lange, in her 29th consecutive trot, was the top woman in last year’s event as she was selected among 125 in-person runners.
Link to full results.