Why are Turkey Trots popular on Thanksgiving? How long has the Turkey Trot existed?
For an increasing number of people all over the United States, Thanksgiving Day celebrations are being kicked off by participating in the Turkey Trot.
For an increasing number of Americans, Thanksgiving Day has ceased to be solely a celebration that includes the consumption of massive amounts of turkey, stuffing, and gravy. For many, the day now gets underway by participating in the Turkey Trot.
The Turkey Trot is a race held in the morning of Thanksgiving, and most of the courses range in distance from 3.1 (5K) to eight miles. However, the courses these days can range from one kilometer (to accommodate the little legs of young children) to a full marathon of 26.2 miles to challenge serious runners.
In 2015, Thanksgiving overtook the Fourth of July holiday as the day where most people run races. More than 250,000 people signed up for this year’s event, which is a 9.9% increase from 2022 figures.
When did the Turkey Trot start?
This is certainly a far cry from its beginnings. The Thanksgiving race is one year older than the Boston Marathon, and is the oldest continuous footrace in the US.
The first Turkey Trot was held in 1896 in Buffalo, New York by the local YMCA, and it only attracted six participants (all men). The race in Buffalo is now one of the largest in the country, with a cap of 14,000 participants.
The appeal of the Turkey Trot
From the six-man race 125 years ago, the tradition began to spread first in the East Coast, then all across the country. As the sport of running gained more popularity, so did the Trot. Women eventually participated in the Buffalo Turkey Trot in 1972, and from there the race has developed into the family-friendly event that it is now.
As the races are organized locally, they have a more intimate feel than big national races. This is one big draw of the Trot- it brings families and friends together on a day where everyone is off work or school, and is a great way to start the day all together before the feast, running through their community. The race has become a symbol of what the Thanksgiving holiday is all about.
Trot for a cause
One other reason that people join is because Turkey Trots are often organized to raise money for charity. The races are held for a variety of causes, and people simply sign up to help the organization of their choice.
Also, how can one overlook the fun brought about by wearing a turkey costume? Some runners come decked out in bird accessories or even full-on turkey suits.
Costumes are serious business for some- years ago, 661 runners at the Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot set a Guinness World Record for the biggest group of people dressed as turkeys.
Some people have a more pragmatic reason for signing up for the race- to preemptively expend the calories that they are sure they will consume later in the day. Although it will probably take more than a Turkey Trot to burn the few thousand calories that make up the average turkey dinner, it will at least take some of the guilt of feasting away.