Some people are afraid of spiders, some people are afraid of heights, and some people are afraid of marrying into a family that runs 5ks on holidays. The annual Thanksgiving day run, known as the turkey trot, has become a holiday tradition for many families. Running USA reported that more than one million people take part in over 1,000 turkey day races across the country, making Thanksgiving the most popular running day of the year.
The tradition started in 1896 in Buffalo, New York. The local YMCA hosted a five mile cross-country race on Thanksgiving morning, drawing just six participants—and only four of them made it to the finish line. One runner excused himself after two miles, while another dropped out when his “late breakfast refused to keep in its proper place.” The winner crossed the line in 31 minutes and 12 seconds, averaging a six-minute-per-mile pace which is very, very fast, even for today’s elite runners, not to mention this was 125 years ago and before there were Nikes and activewear. The Buffalo Turkey Trot is the oldest continuously run footrace in North America. It is older than the Boston Marathon which kicked off in 1897, and older than San Francisco’s Bay to Breakers which began in 1912.
Over the years, race organizers and runners have put their own spin on the trot, making it more about fun and family than about competition. Runners have begun donning turkey costumes and dressing up in all sorts of fun and silly outfits. Courses welcome strollers, wheelchairs, and leashed dogs. The races often include the standard five-miler along with a shorter fun run or walk, and most of them include a charitable component.
At the Saucony Turkey Toss in Pennsylvania, the athletes who can throw a frozen bird the farthest and finish a fast 5K win a pair of running shoes. Some races award prizes to participants with the best costumes. Participants at the Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot are rewarded with post-race festivities that include food trucks and a beer garden. At the 111-year-old Run for the Diamonds Turkey Trot in Berwick, Pennsylvania, top finishers of their 9-mile race can win diamond jewelry. Participants of the Feaster Five turkey trot in Andover, MA are literally running for pie with each finisher taking home an apple pie. That all seems like great motivation to tie up those laces. Whatever your traditions, all of us at Probity Advisors, Inc. wish you and your families a wonderful, happy, and healthy Thanksgiving, and we hope your holiday season is filled with peace and joy.