Nearly 600 runners crossed the 50-yard line at the Atlantic Heath Jets Training Center on Sunday and 8-year-old Ryan Smith of Mendham, NJ, was determined to be one of them.
Ryan participated in the second annual Turkey Trot with his mom, Tina Smith, and another mother-son duo, Ella and Leo Slayne, also of Mendham.
His goal? "Finish. Just finish."
Tina, who will be celebrating a birthday this week, said that the race was exactly how she wanted to spend her birthday with her son.
"We wanted to take our sons to the Jets facility and we wanted to have fun doing something healthy," she said. "This is our second (5K)."
Jets Fest was decided to be the boys' favorite part of race day. "What about being with your moms?" the moms promptly challenged. "Oh, yes, yes," the boys were equally swift to answer correctly.
The Jets Hosted the Second Annual Turkey Trot 5K Prior to Jets-Texans Game
Jake Vilaire had long since forgotten about the star-shaped medal he and 66 other kids 12 and under received upon completion of the mile-long Fun Run when I caught up him post-race.
When asked if he received anything special after the race, he stared at me inquisitively, then to his parents who were pointing to the medal around his dad's neck, and then back to the hot chocolate he clutched between his hands before exclaiming from underneath his red Spider-Man hat, "Hot chocolate!"
"I'm a Jets fan and that played a major role. I wanted to see the facility where they train and just be a part of something having to do with the Jets," Jake's mom Simone said.
Simone took part in the 5K but said her favorite part of the day was "watching the kids' Fun Run. Not all races have a Fun Run for kids so this is really what we drove all the way from Brooklyn for."
Of the 530 5K finishers and 67 Fun Runners, participants represented 10 states, coming from as far away as Mountain View, CA.
Runners' amenities included a long-sleeve performance T-shirt, a finisher's medal and a Jets bandana. Runners were met at the finish line by members of the Flight Crew, while Jets legend Erik Coleman served as emcee.