Thanksgiving is full of traditions. The turkey, the pie, the stuffing, and the stuffing of bellies are all synonymous with Thanksgiving. Thankfully a growing tradition of Thanksgiving Day foot races is sweeping the country. More and more feasters are burning those calories before the tryptophan takes over and they become overfed couch dwellers for the afternoon.
Here are some of the best turkey day races the nation has to offer. Start a new tradition with your family and get a run in before you gobble.
1. 116th Annual YMCA Turkey Trot Buffalo, NY
Be a part of American history with this race. This is the oldest continually running footrace in North America, it’s even older than the Boston Marathon.
The 8K race brings more than 14,000 runners out in the brisk morning air. Each runner is asked to bring 2 cans of non-perishable food, making it a huge charity opportunity as well. What a way to celebrate the holiday!
2. Manchester Road Race. Manchester, Connecticut
The Manchester Road Race began in 1927 with just twelve runners. Today the 4.748 mile race welcomes over 15,000 runners and walkers. This race is celebrating its 75th anniversary and continues to see elite runners, professionals, and Olympians every year. The race also welcomes amateurs all the way down to their “mall walker” category. This long standing race is accustom to seeing running superstars like nine-time champ Amby Burfoot toe the line. The historic course and the supportive crowds are what have kept this race in business for so many years.
3. Thanksgiving Day Race Cincinnati, OH
Another long standing road race, The Thanksgiving Day Race will celebrate its 102nd running this year. The 10K race starts and finishes at the Paul Brown Stadium and runs through the downtown area.
The race has come a long way from its original 18 runners 102 years ago. Runners also get to be a part of a huge charity event on race day. They are asked to wear a warm coat to the starting line and take if off just before the gun. All the coats will be collected and donated to the Goodwill for a huge coat drive.
Runners will enjoy entertainment along the course as they know they did a great charity to those in need. They’ll also enjoy the great charity they’re doing their waistlines!
4. Feaster Five Road Race Andover, Massachusetts
Just a few miles outside Boston, runners will find a very festive Thanksgiving race event. The Feaster event has a 5 mile, a 5K, and kids runs. Over 10,000 people attend the event each year. Some may come just to catch a glimpse of running royalty. Running legends Bill Rodgers and Joan Benoit Samuelson are attending the event as runners and speaker. The amazing father-son team of Rick and Dick Hoyt will be running as well. If you watch real close you might even catch Matt Damon and his family in on the fun as well. This fun family friendly event is a must-run. This year to encourage family participation, prizes of Christmas trees and spiral cut hams will be awarded to the biggest family in attendance.
5. Run to Feed the Hungry Sacramento, CA
After a humble beginning 18 years ago, the once 796 runners has grown to more than 25,000. The 5K and 10K runs benefit the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services. The 5K and 10K courses wind through the tree-lined streets of East Sacramento. The 5K and 10K share the same finish line. The runners are encouraged to fund-raise and donate money as the food bank has come to rely on these funds. What a fantastic way to do good for the body and soul…and soles.
6. Father Joe’s Thanksgiving Day 5K San Diego, CA
Father Joe Carroll wants to serve more than 1.7 million meals to those in need this year. The registration fees and fundraising for this Thanksgiving Day race will help accomplish that goal.
This 5K race starts and finishes in the beautiful Balboa Park. Runners are treated to a post-race party and are able to buy delicious pies created by culinary students. This fun party and fundraiser all contribute to the mission of serving the homeless in the San Diego area. Those who raise over $100 get to take home the annual Father Joe bobblehead collectible!
7. Las Vegas Turkey Trot – Six Tunnels to Hoover Dam Las Vegas, NV
Just 18 miles from the Vegas strip runners will find one of the most unique Turkey Trots ever! Runners can participate in a 12K or 5K race up and back the old railroad track that used to service the Hoover Dam. The abandoned track is now a part of the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy. Runners will run through six tunnels as they make their way to the big turn around, the Hoover Dam! I doubt many other Turkey Trots can offer such scenery and landmarks!
8. The Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot Dallas, TX
Celebrating its 44th year, the Dallas Turkey Trot has much to be thankful for. Once a tiny foot race at White Rock Lake, the trot has grown into one of the nations largest Thanksgiving event. All 8 mile or 5K participants are given a free 25-visit membership to their local YMCA to help in training.
This year all runners are encouraged to dress like a turkey to help them attempt to set a new Guinness World Record. The race is seeking to present the world’s largest gathering of people dressed as turkeys. Fitness, fun, and world records, is there a better way to celebrate a holiday?
9. Annual Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot Springfield, MO
This 5K race will celebrate its 17th year. The race routes through Springfield’s Center City. The 7,100 participants in 2010 made the race the largest Thanksgiving run in the state of Missouri. While they were at it, they set another record. 5,475 pounds of food were collected, making it the largest one-day collection of food for the Ozarks Food Harvest Food Bank. Runners have the chance to break that record again this year as each is asked to bring three food items to donate. There’s nothing to lose with this great mid-west event!
10. Fifth Third Turkey Trot. Detroit, MI
When a race is billed as “The Parade before the Parade!” you know you’re in for a good time. The 5K, 10K, and Mashed Potato Mile racers are all encouraged to wear costumes and get the streets warmed up for the big Thanksgiving Parade that follows. While costumes aren’t required, over 1,000 costumes cross the finish lines every year and there’s a separate costume prize category. Get your costume, run off your pending calories and enjoy a great parade…that’s bound to be a great tradition!