While Thanksgiving morning means wafts of turkey aroma and the Macy’s parade for most Americans, for a smaller crowd of runners it means Turkey Trot. It’s interesting if you research all the Turkey Trots in the nation because most have a very long standing tradition. I’m guessing the pending feasts motivate so many to get some calorie burning in every year. This year is no exception as the race calendars are loaded with many events.
Some trots were last weekend, but many land right here on Thanksgiving Day. This is probably best as the American Council on Exercise reported that the average Thanksgiving meal contains about 3,000 calories. They estimated the average person would have to run for four hours to burn off that much turkey; we calculated you’d have to run a half marathon to burn Thanksgiving dinner.
Whether you’re a competitive runner or more of a mall walker, there’s no reason not to search for an event in your area and take a preemptive strike approach to these bountiful holiday. Make it a family affair and have fun with it. Last year, Capital One YMCA Turkey Trot in Dallas encouraged everyone to dress like a turkey as they attempted to set a Guinness World Record, and they did with 661 turkey costumes on the course.
Not only are turkey trots long standing, fun traditions, they are drawing serious crowds that are dedicated to doing good for others in addition to their own waistline. Here are five of the country’s largest Turkey Trots.
117th Annual YMCA Turkey Trot Buffalo, NY
This Turkey Trot can boast that it’s the oldest road race in America, even older than the Boston Marathon. The rare distance of 8 kilometers brings out more than 14,000 runners on Thanksgiving morning. Runners are asked to bring non-perishable foods to the race. Last year they collected enough to make 2,200 meals. This year, the race organizers are going big as they attempt to collect enough food for 6,000 meals. Follow along with this famous race by following the hashtag #buffaloytrot on Twitter.
Manchester Road Race. Manchester, Connecticut
Celebrating a 76-year run, the Manchester Road Race expects to bring in more than 15,000 runners. The runners come to run the odd distance of 4.748 miles. When the 12 runners of the original race started the event in 1927, they just ran around town. The distance stuck and the crowds run the same course today. The race brings in numbers and many elites every year. A 2023 Olympic Steeplechase runner, Donald Cabral, is a frequent face at the Road Race on Thanksgiving morning. The popular event also brings in proceeds that benefit countless organizations. In 2023, the race distributed $80,000 to worthy causes such as Muscular Dystrophy Association and The Special Olympics, just to name a few.
Thanksgiving Day Race. Cincinnati, Ohio
The Road Race will celebrate 103 years this year, making it the oldest road race in the Midwest. The 10K run brings in thousands, a far cry from its humble start of 18 runners 103 years ago. The race starts and finishes in Paul Brown Stadium, the home of the Bengals. Since the team has a morning practice the run doesn’t hang around in the stadium for long. The 10K course winds through the downtown area of Cincinnati Thanksgiving morning. Runners can celebrate the calorie burn and the fact that they support such great causes by running. The race benefits the Ronald McDonald House, Girls on the Run, Barrett Cancer Center, Go Vibrant, Kilgour School, Clark Montessori, Neediest Kids of All, Goodwill, Accounting for Kids and many others.
Feaster Five Road Race. Andover, Massachusetts
Whether you’re in for the 5 mile race, the 5K race, or simply wanting a chance to gawk at celebrities, the Feaster Five is your run. More than 10,000 runners show up for this annual Thanksgiving morning event each year. Held in Andover, MA, just outside Boston, the race brings in running royalty like Bill Rodgers and Joan Benoit Samuelson each year. In addition to the running celebrities, Hollywood seems to show up, too. Boston native Matt Damon has been know to run the race as well. This year runners can collect their Table Talk Apple Pies as they cross the line and know the proceeds are going to build a new YMCA in Merrimack Valley.
Run to Feed the Hungry. Sacramento, California
More than 25,000 runners attend this annual Thanksgiving morning event in California. The 10K and 5K races all benefit the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services. This year will be the 19th for the race, which brings in several elite runners every holiday. In addition to the race proceeds going towards the food bank, runners are encouraged to get their whole family in on additional fundraising. This race is one of the main resources for the food bank and support services.
Family fun and tradition, giving back to those in need, and burning calories before a feast… is there really any better way to celebrate a holiday? Find your local turkey trot and start your celebration right.