The 5K/10K event started at 9 a.m. in Aptos Village Park, where participants dashed uphill in the crisp sunshine into the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park. Runners were handed mini pumpkin pies, pumpkin bread and other treats at the finish line.
"It's a great way to get some exercise in and feel like you can eat more generously during the day," said Lisa Cedarblade of Aptos, a volunteer for Fleet Feet, the shoe store that organized the race.
Tina Coillot, who took over the store with husband Russ two years ago, said they wanted to create a Thanksgiving Day fitness tradition for local families. The Coillots, who moved here from Sacramento, participated in that city's annual Run to Feed the Hungry race.
"We just said, 'We're going to do it,'" Tina Coillot said.
The Coillots and some of their customers are involved with the Youth Resource Bank of Santa Cruz County, a nonprofit that provides school supplies, clothing, shoes and other needs for local children. The couple decided to donate proceeds of the race to the organization.
Having secured permits for just 250 people to participate, Tina Coillot said she had to turn dozens of runners and walkers away. One of the runners who got a lucky bib was Santa Cruz County Supervisor Neal Coonerty, who was fresh off last weekend's Big Sur Half Marathon.
"I wasn't sure I was ready, that my legs hadn't gotten rusted," Coonerty said, adding that he wasn't surprised so many people came out on a holiday morning for a quick trot. "It does give you license to eat an extra piece of pie."