A foot race on Thanksgiving morning, whether competitive or a fun run, has become almost as much a part of the day's tradition as the turkey itself. There are now thousands of such events across America where you can burn off a few calories before the indulgence to come and do some good for a local charity. Here follows our pick of ten of the best.
The Plymouth Turkey Trot & the Pilgrim Thanksgiving 5K
You can’t get much closer to the first Thanksgiving than this. The Plymouth Turkey Trot starts at Plymouth Rock, where the Pilgrims reputedly landed; the Pilgrim 5K runs down the oldest road in America, one that would have been familiar to settlers and Native Americans in the 1600s. The two 5K races start three hours apart so you can run them both — Turkey Trot second helpings.
Dallas Turkey Trot
More than 40,000 are expected for this year’s races, an 8-miler and a 5K fun run/walk. The unusual distance came about because at the first race in 1968 the 107 participants were told to run along the shores of White Rock Lake “to the big oak tree and back.” Turned out that was 8 miles. In 2011, the race set a record for the largest gathering of people dressed as turkeys, according to the Guinness Book of Records.
Run To Feed The Hungry
Some 28,500 runner and walkers (10K run and 5K run/walk through tree-lined East Sacramento) come out to support what claims to be the largest Thanksgiving Day fun run in the U.S. - you have to pre-registers if you want to be timed. All proceeds go to the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services, as they have since the event started in 1994.
Run For The Diamonds
Forget running for the T-shirt. There are diamond rings for the first seven men home and diamond pendants for the first seven women. This centurion among Thanksgiving Day races is a throwback to hard-scrabble races of yore. This year's will be the 105th running of the challenging 9-mile course, famous for its lung-busting Summit Hill and weather as rugged as the course.
Feaster Five Road Race
Apple pie awaits the runners at he finish line of this 5-miler near Boston; the first 9,000 home get a whole pie. There is also a 5K and a kid’s run at what bills itself as New England’s largest and most festive Thanksgiving Day running event. The race, started in 1987, has attracted local stars over the years. Distance running legends Bill Rodgers and Joan Benoit Samuelson have run, as has actor Matt Damon and family.
Atlanta Half Marathon and Thanksgiving Day 5K
This used to be a full 26.2 miler before the now defunct Atlanta Marathon moved to earlier in the fall. It is now one of the largest half-marathons in the U.S., attracting thousands of runners looking to share the holiday spirit and to burn off four-figures of calories.
Charlotte South Park Tot Trot
A 26.2-yarder — the ‘childrens’ marathon’. Entrants have to be 6-years old or younger. For everyone else there is a choice of 5K and 8K races or a 1-mile fun run.
Buffalo YMCA Turkey Trot
This year’s running will be the 119th and attract of field of up to 14,000. This 5-miler, founded by the local YMCA in 1896, is the oldest Thanksgiving Day race and claims to be the oldest continuously run public footrace in the U.S.
Honolulu Marathon Clinic Turkey Trot
A beautiful 10-miler through Kapiolani Park with Diamond Head to one side and the Pacific Ocean to the other, although the exact course isn’t revealed until the day. Another quirk; Prizes don't go the fastest, but to those who are closest to their own pre-race-predicted times. Practicing running at goal pace for the first ten mile of a marathon is what makes this Turkey Trott a clinic.
The Great Gobbler Gallop
This was once a real Turkey Trot, tens of thousands of turkeys being driven through the streets of Cuero at Thanksgiving. Now it is part of the town’s October Turkeyfest, reduced to two champion turkeys representing Cuero and Worthington, Minn., racing two blocks to settle which is America’s ‘Turkey Capital of the World,’ — at least for the following 12 months. A human Turkey Trot 5K is a mere sideshow.