ZAP Fitness-Reebok has a long standing tradition the Manchester Road Race on Thanksgiving Day, and this year their collective performances exceeded any in the decade long tradition. ZAP-Reebok sent 5 athletes to the New England to brave the sub-freezing temperatures and gusting winds on Thanksgiving Day morning and came away with three top 8 finishes.

The most competitive Turkey Trot in the country got off to a blazing start as the three lead men, including ZAP-Reebok’s Tyler Pennel, screamed through the first mile of the 4.748 mile course in 4:13. The rest of the field, including ZAP-Reebok’s George Alex, Joe Stilin, and Cameron Bean, followed close behind. The fast early pace strung out the field early and left Pennel alone in third place as the field headed up the gradual 1 mile climb to the top of the course. Pennel was able to fend off a chase pack that included Alex as they made the turn back onto Main Street for the final 600m. 2013 Manchester Start

Pennel, determined to continue his hot streak this fall and improve upon his 5th place showing here last year, crossed the line in 3rd place behind two sub 27:45 10k runners. Closing hard behind him were first year ZAP-Reebok athlete George Alex in 6th place and Cameron Bean in 8th. Joe Stilin hung on for a 16th place finish in his Manchester Road Race debut.

The women’s field got out to a similarly fast start with ZAP-Reebok’s Mary Ballinger coming through the first mile in 5:05 before attacking the hill in the second mile. Ballinger was able to fend off a late charge at the end to finish 14th place.

On the other side of the country, Cole Atkins competed in another highly competitive Turkey Trot, the Silicon Valley 5k in San Jose. The 4 loop course around downtown San Jose ran like a track race and Atkins put himself in the front pack from the start. The group came through the mile in 4:23 and two miles in 8:53 as the field dwindled with every lap. Heading into the final loop it was down to 6 remaining runners. Atkins stayed with the pack until a strong move by 13:16 5k man David Torrence broke things open in the final kilometer. Atkins continued to move forward the final mile and finished strong, running an impressive 13:51, good for a 5th place finish.

The entire Thanksgiving Day group, plus first year athlete Kevin Schwab, will compete next at the USA Club Cross Country National Championships in Bend, Oregon on December 14th. The men will be looking for their 4th team title since 2006.