Thanksgiving Turkey Trot Combines Community and Sport

Many people dressed for the Turkey Trot.


The 9th Annual Pacific Palisades Turkey Trot saw more than 2,000 runners, family members, strollers and supporters assemble at the Palisades Charter High School Stadium Thanksgiving morning.

Runners stretched before the beginning of the race.


One of the founders of the race, David Houston, was putting on a turkey suit, before hopping on a Vespa (he leads the runners through the course). “When this event started, we hoped it would grow,” Houston said. “We love seeing our Palisades community out here. We have so much to be thankful for.”

“This is our biggest event ever,” said race organizer David O’Connell. The event started in 2013, but was not held for two years because of Covid.

On hand was emcee and announcer Sam Lagana, who grew up in Pacific Palisades.

Lagana, who also serves as the stadium announcer for the L.A. Rams, joked that “David told me I was doing this—and I would do anything for him.”

On a more serious note, Lagana said he likes doing this race because “This is an opportunity to bring community together.”

Singing the National Anthem was Annabell Grandy, a freshman at Colgate College where she is majoring in neuroscience.

“I love to sing,” Grandy said. While at Viewpoint High School, she had been in choir. Now, in addition to science classes, she is in the a cappella choir at college.

The more than 2000 runners stretched around the track as the race started around 8 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning.

The race went off to the music from Chariots of Fire and Lagana announced “This is the Pacific Palisades Turkey Trot.”

Runners continued to come to the starting line at least five minutes after the start of the race, when an extended family of two couples, two youths and two strollers started – well after everyone had already gone through the chute.

Lagana continued to call out runners as they came across the finish line and one young sprinter gave it her all at the end. “Nice finish,” Lagana said to Savannah Moore, 10, as she finished in 22:36 and won her category in the 5K.

Luke Zanuck won the 5K.

Taking first in the 5K race was Luke Zanuck in a course record time of 15:36. A sophomore at Williams College, where he runs track, he was back in Pacific Palisades for Thanksgiving. During high school, he ran cross country and track for Windward. Last year he took fourth in the trot with a time of 16:47.


Daniele Quintero won the 5K.

The first woman to cross the 5K finish line was Daniela Quintero with a time of 19:06, who bested her last years’ time of 19:41. She attends Columbia University and when she returns to New York will participate in an indoor track meet on November 27. She likes to run the 3K or the mile. She also participated in cross country, and said those athletes run through Central and Riverside Parks.

Quintero said that she was at the Turkey Trot because her friends from Harvard Westlake High School, who live in Pacific Palisades, said, “Come over and run the race.”


Jonathon Wilson won the 10K.

Taking first in the 10K race, which finishes by running uphill on Temescal Canyon Road, was Jonathon Wilson. He took sixth last year, but this year his time of 37.20 set the standard.

Wilson said he ran cross country in high school, “but didn’t do very good.” The engineer, who lives in Sunnyville, was in town to celebrate with family, who live in Brentwood and Cheviot Hills. His cousin attends Palisades High School and is on the wrestling team.

Wilson trains six days a week. “I do a lot of rowing on an indoor machine,” he said, and compliments that workout with running between 15 to 20 miles a week.


Lesley Paterson won the 10K Woman’s race.

The first-place female finisher was former pro-triathlete Lesley Patterson in a time of 38:01. She was born in Scotland and introduced to that sport at age 13, by her father who helped start the Stirling Triathlon Club. Over the next two decades, she was among the elite in the world. At one point, she had trouble with swimming – her weakest event, and dropped out of the sport in 2002.

She had graduated from Loughborough University met her husband and the two moved to San Diego, where she received her master’s degree in theatre. She teamed up with Ian Stokell and the two optioned “All Quiet on the Western Front” in 2006. Every year they had to renew the option, which cost between $10,000-$15,000.

She started participating in triathlons again, using the prize money to pay for the book option. The film was finally produced in 2002 – in a large part to Paterson’s determination. The film received nine Oscar nominations and 14 British Academy Film Awards. Paterson won the BAFTA for Best Adapted Screen play, sharing with Stokell and director Edward Berger.

To see all race results click here.

Caruso’s Palisades Village returned as an official sponsor for its third year. Additional sponsors included HUB International, Exela Technologies, ORO Capital Advisors, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and the Village 76 Station.

Proceeds from the Pacific Palisades 2023 Turkey Trot went to Los Angeles Fire Stations 23 and 69 and Friendship Circle.

This race included families dressed for the occasion.

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