American seminarians in Rome began Thanksgiving Day with a race around the world’s smallest country.
The 13th Annual Thanksgiving Turkey Trot around Vatican City State kicked off with an early start at the Pontifical North American College on Nov. 24.
More than 130 seminarians, priests, and Catholic college students gathered near the starting line at 5:30 a.m. with t-shirts proudly proclaiming “the world’s only 5K to go around
|It was a seminarian sweep for the top three finishers of “the world’s only 5K to go around a sovereign nation. | Courtney Mares
a sovereign nation.”
The race brought the runners up the Vatican Hill and along the outside of the centuries-old 39-foot walls that encircle the Vatican Gardens before crossing in front of St. Peter’s Square ahead of the final stretch up the Janiculum Hill back to the college. In total, the runners ascended 262 feet in just over three miles.
Deacon Matthew Schilmoeller from the diocese of Lincoln ran cross country for the University of Nebraska before he entered the seminary.
Thinking back on his track and field days, he said: “Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that I would be running around the sovereign nation of the Vatican City!”
The winner of this year’s race was seminarian Michael Maloney from the archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.
“It was a very fun, close race between a few of us,” he said.
Maloney, who is in his third year studying in Rome, recommends Villa Doria Pamphili park on the Janiculum Hill as his favorite spot to run in the Eternal City.
The tradition of running a Turkey Trot around the Vatican began in 2009 when a seminarian from Colorado Springs, now Father Jim Baron, wanted to do something different for Thanksgiving.
In the past decade, the race has grown to include a costume competition and participation from Americans living in Rome, including many colleges with students studying abroad. This year the University of Mary, St. John's University, and the University of Dallas registered the most runners.
By Courtney Mares
Catholic News Agency