VALPARAISO | The math is simple, according to Galen Bradley of Valparaiso.
He prepared himself, guilt-free, for a large Thanksgiving dinner by participating in the 5K at Thursday morning's 10th annual Valparaiso Turkey Trot.
"Absolutely. That's the primary reason I'm here," said Bradley, who ran along with his wife Stacey and friend Bob Deedrick. "I figure if I run three miles, that's at least three plates full."
The Trot, which featured 5K and 10K races, attracted a record 3,058 finishers and benefits Porter-Starke Services. The turnout far surpassed last year's 2,093 participants, and is now much bigger than the Ringing in Spring (1,740 this year) and Popcorn Panic (1.276) to become Northwest Indiana's largest road race.
"It's just mind blowing," said Heather Henderlong, a Porter-Starke Foundation Board member who runs THTiming, the company that provided race results. "It's great to see everyone in the area running, and there were a lot of groups out supporting the runners, from people running five-minute miles up to 15-minute miles."
A couple of familiar faces led the way in the 10K.
Aaron Crague, the boys assistant cross country coach at Valparaiso, out-kicked Wheeler graduate David Goodman to capture the 10K title in 31 minutes, 50 seconds. Goodman's time was 31:50.6.
And in the women's race, Racheal Marchand led the way in 35:06.3, eighth overall. She won the 5K at last year's Trot.
"He was leading up to about the fourth mile," Crague said of Goodman. "I caught up to him, and we kind of battled back and forth the next mile. I led for a while before he put in a big surge. Both of us were in all-out sprint mode to the finish, and I was fortunate to hold him off, because he ran tough."
Goodman, 23, ran in college at Southern Indiana before transferring to Western State, a Division II school in Colorado. He won the national championship in the 3,000-meter steeplechase in 2011, and is currently living and training in Rhode Island with an eye on the 2016 Olympics.
"We were neck and neck, but he had a little more at the end," Goodman said of his battle with Crague. "I'm going to come back next year with a vengeance."
Marchand wasn't pushed by any other women runners, but she ran with a group of men near the front.
"I wanted to do the longer race, because I'm training for a half marathon in February," Marchand said. "I'm feeling strong. I'm building myself back up and feeling good."
Overall winners in the 5K were Michael Stocker of Yorktown, who has family in Valparaiso, in 17:01.4 and Griffith's Taylor Austin (19:28), who competed in last month's state cross country meet for the Panthers.
For many of the runners, it was truly a family affair. Even for Crague.
His younger sisters, Jenny and Amy, and fiance Stephanie Storer each ran in the 5K. Plus, three of Crague's cross country runners -- Peyton Reed (third), Andrew Lyp (fourth) and Andrew Jankowski (sixth) -- finished near the top in the 10K.
"It's a huge turnout," said Crague, who believed he set a personal record at age 33, beating his previous best from his days as a Valparaiso University runner. "It's amazing, because this is so cool for the community. When this many people turn out, it's really a family thing."