Thankful for Thanksgiving Turkey Trots

turkey trots, Thanksgiving, running

What better way to prepare for stuffing a turkey (and yourself) than a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot? Photo by Xybermatthew.

Gobble, gobble! It’s not just what a turkey says. It’s also what most of us do on Thanksgiving Day. It’s certainly what I do. Corn-broccoli casserole? Check. My mom’s super amazing stuffing? Yum. Gravy, gravy, gravy? You bet. A crescent roll or two. Of course. Apple Kuchen? Love it. With a side of ice cream? Wouldn’t be the same without. And of course, turkey? Heck, yeah!

There’s a reason Thanksgiving is possibly the most beloved national holiday. It’s really a festival of food. And one of the many reasons I love to run is because I love to eat. Thanksgiving is no exception. What better way to prepare for stuffing a turkey (and yourself) than a Turkey Trot?

From coast to coast, runners and walkers alike will give thanks for the Turkey Trot. Thanksgiving is one of the biggest, and most fun, running days of the year. When else do you get to race a Stuffing Strut or Mashed Potato Mile, like at the Detroit Fifth Third Turkey Trot? More than 1,000 of the racers even wear costumes and compete to win prizes for originality and execution. Super fun!

The tradition of the Turkey Trot goes back a long way. All the way back to 1896, when the first Thanksgiving Day race was held in Buffalo, N.Y. That day, six men entered. Now for the 114th running of the YMCA Turkey Trot in Buffalo, organizers expect over 10,000 racers, including women (who didn’t enter until 1972). The Buffalo Trot is the oldest continually run footrace in America—even older than the more famous Boston Marathon.

As far as Turkey Trots are concerned, it’s true: everything is bigger in Texas. The biggest Turkey Trot of them all is the Capital One Bank Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot. A whopping 35,000 participants will line up at the Dallas City Hall Plaza for the 8-mile and 5K races, which benefit the YMCA.

Pumpkin Pie, Turkey trots, Thanksgiving

The Columbus Turkey Trot in Columbus, Ohio awards a Pumpkin Pie to each of the first 2,000 finishers. Photo by Maggie Hoffman.

If you need to burn the most pre-meal calories, sign up for the Atlanta Half Marathon run on Thanksgiving Day. Or if you need to bring dessert to Thanksgiving dinner, try the Columbus Turkey Trot in Columbus, Ohio, which awards a Pumpkin Pie to the top 2,000 finishers. There are even post-Thanksgiving Day races like Trot Off Your Turkey in Barrington, R.I., to help you burn off your feast—and the left-overs too.

Being charitable is yet another reason to run on Thanksgiving. Most Turkey Trots benefit non-profit organizations and, in recognition of the holiday itself, food banks, like the Turkey Trot in Morris Township, N.J., which aids the Interfaith Food Pantry; or the Seattle Turkey Trot that supports the Ballard Food Bank.

Those are just a few of the races out there. Here are a few more:

Live in Washington, D.C.? Run the Alexandria Turkey Trot in Virginia or any of the other five races in the area.

On the other coast in California? Try the Long Beach, Silicon Valley, or Oceanside Turkey Trots.

Down South? Check out the St. Petersburg Times Turkey Trot in Clearwater, Fla., or the March of Dimes Turkey Trot in Baton Rouge, La.

Somewhere in the middle? Go to the Turkey Trot in St. Paul, Minn., or the Naperville Noon Lions Turkey Trot in Naperville, Ill.

Someplace else altogether? Give thanks for Google. With races in big cities and small towns alike, there’s sure to be a race close to your Thanksgiving Day celebration. All you have to do is look it up. So happy running, happy eating, and Happy Thanksgiving!

turkey trots, Thanksgiving, running

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, many Turkey Trots benefit local food banks and charities. Photo courtesy


Karla Bruning


Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.


11 2009

1 Comments Add Yours ↓

The upper is the most recent comment

  1. 1

    Hi everybody, it’s Thanksgiving Day! I’m happy with my extra day off, and I am planning to doing something fun that’ll probably involve a bike ride and seeing something new in Bellefontaine I haven’t seen yet.
    You write something new at Thanksgiving?