A holiday-themed activity with proceeds that go to a charitable cause? Check. The opportunity to wear matching costumes with friends and family? Check. An excuse for guilt-free Thanksgiving indulgence? Check.
With benefits like that, it's no wonder that turkey trots — those family-friendly running/walking events held on or around Thanksgiving Day — are so popular. According to Running USA, more than 960,000 people finished a Thanksgiving Day race in 2016. And that doesn't even count the number of folks who participated in races the weekend before or after the holiday.
On a day when we give thanks for friends, family, community and all of the material things that make us happy, more Americans are choosing to kick off the festivities with a turkey trot race both to counteract the Thanksgiving gluttony and to give back to local charities. Last year, there were 726 turkey trot events held across the country on Thanksgiving Day, so chances are there is a race somewhere in your community. But if you're looking for a really unusual way to kick off your Turkey Day, check out one of these spectacular running events.
1. Buffalo Niagara YMCA Turkey Trot
We couldn't even begin to talk about Thanksgiving runs without first mentioning the Buffalo Niagara Turkey Trot, the oldest consecutively run turkey trot race — or footrace of any kind — in the country. Yes, it is five months older than the Boston Marathon, which was first run in 1897. And while the Around the Bay road race was first held in Hamilton, Ontario in 1894, that race was not held during World War I or during the 10-year stretch from 1925-1934. Created in 1896, and held every year since then, the Buffalo Niagara Turkey Trot has the distinction of being the oldest continuously run race in North America. This 8K race takes participants on a tour of downtown Buffalo, with proceeds benefiting the local YMCA.
2. Applied Materials Silicon Valley Turkey Trot
Join our friends at the Applied Materials Silicon Valley Turkey Trot for a great, fun filled event! Register by Thursday August 24 - 11:59 PM before prices increase! Don't miss out! Sign up: https://tinyurl.com/TT-FB-AUG-INCR #appliedmaterialsturkeytrot #siliconvalleyturkeytrot #signuptoday #savethedate #radical80srunsj #friendsofours #runlocal #werunsanjose #werunthebay #sfbayarea #408 #669 #runnersofinstagram
If you like your turkey trots to come with a side of healthy competition, look no further than the Applied Materials Silicon Valley race, in which elite runners battle it out for the $24,000 in prize money. Not an elite? You'll find good company in the tens of thousands who come out to run or walk the event's 5K or 10K races with proceeds benefiting the area's Healthier Kids Foundation and Second Harvest Food Bank.
3. Run For the Diamonds
Took home a ton of hardware at Berwick today! A couple diamonds and the team women title! Mike walked away with the Masters win and Sam somehow managed to pr only a few days after the Philly marathon in 4th!!! Some amazing running today coming from @mccliggs @snukebee Chris, Courtney, and Justin!!! #RATC #justinsane #movingup #berwick #runforthediamonds
While most people hope to bring home a pumpkin pie or maybe even a turkey as an age-group award for their turkey trot race, runners of the Berwick, Pennsylvania Run for the Diamonds have diamonds in their eyes. This challenging nine-mile run hands out diamond rings and pendants to the top winners in each age category. If you love bling and can run fast, this is the race for you.
4. Nitro Turkey and Quarry Turkey
Participants in the Nitro Turkey race in the San Francisco Bay area's Point Pinole Regional Park can enjoy dirt trails and beautiful bay views as they log their 5K or 10K miles. And this race takes things even further by motivating folks to keep the momentum going even after the Thanksgiving festivities have died down. Runners who participate in both the Nitro Turkey on Thanksgiving Day and the Quarry Turkey (held the Saturday after Thanksgiving) get a special medal connector that allows them to transform their individual medals into a whopper Double Turkey medal.
5. Honolulu Marathon Clinic Turkey Trot
A #Thanksgiving #tradition continues with the annual #HonoluluMarathonClinic 🦃🏃🏻♀️💨#TurkeyTrot. A #HawaiianSunrise 🌄 and 10 beautiful #MilesOfSmiles around #DiamondHead and #Kahala with my #Friends is a great way to start the #Holidays. I am very #Thankful for all my #Blessings and wish you and your #Ohana a wonderful day of #Gratitude 🙏🏼🌺
In a twist on the classic turkey trot race, the winners of the Honolulu Marathon Clinic Turkey Trot aren't necessarily the fastest — they are the best at predicting their overall pace. Before the race, runners write down their name and predicted finishing time on a tongue depressor. Although the race covers around 10 miles, runners don't know the course until the race gets going. At the finish line, the runner whose time is closest to their prediction wins the prize.
6. Run to Feed the Hungry
If crowds are your thing, head on over to Sacramento's Run to Feed the Hungry. Last year, this turkey trot became the largest Thanksgiving day race in the country, with more than 29,000 runners and walkers participating in the 5K and 10K events. Proceeds benefit the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services.
7. Manchester Road Race
Want to run alongside some Olympians before you sit down to your Thanksgiving feast? Head on over to the Manchester Road Race, an event that has become one of New England's most famous road races. Shalane Flanagan (the recent female winner of the New York City marathon who is in the photo above) won the race in 2006. Olympians Molly Huddle (winner of this year's U.S.A Track and Field 5K national road championships) and Bernard Lagat (who holds the American Masters record for the 5K distance with a time of 12:53.60) will tow the line at this year's race. Proceeds from the Manchester Road Race are divvied up among several charities, including the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
8. Atlanta Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon
Sure, some folks might run or walk a 5K and call it good. But if you really want to set the bar high, head to Georgia for the Atlanta Track Club's Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon. That's 13.1 miles of running, which should more than offset those mashed potatoes and candied yams you'll dig into later in the day. Oh, and they do have a 5K option for those who aren't T-Day overachievers.
9. Strategic Staffing Solutions Turkey Trot
Detroit's turkey trot is unique for a number of reasons. Not only do racers have their pick of event distances (1-miler, 5K or 10K) but they can also mix-and-match to run the "Drumstick Double" (both the 10K and 5K races) or the "Cranberry Combo" (1-miler and 5K). And if that wasn't cool enough, the turkey trot is also the kickoff to the city's annual Thanksgiving Day parade, bringing out spectators galore and making costumes and turkey-themed flair a must.
10. Pensacola Beach Turkey Trot
Kids who aren't up to the Pensacola Beach Turkey Trot 5K can sign up for the 100-yard Turkey Dash. (Photo: Pensacola Beach Turkey Trot/Facebook)
If stunning scenery is what you're after, look no further than Pensacola Beach Turkey Trot race. The gorgeous coastal course takes runners between two unique shorelines — the Santa Rosa Sound and the Gulf of Mexico. Proceeds from the race benefit brain cancer research by the Preston Robert Tisch Tumor Center at Duke University.