According to Runner’s World, Thanksgiving day is the most popular day to run in the United States. I’m not surprised, since it is a holiday that tends to center around food, and the start of the holiday season (read: Season of Unlimited Feasting) for many. Personally, I think it’s nice to have an active activity that the whole family can enjoy.
My first turkey trot was in Austin, back in the late 1990s. I didn’t so much “run” as “walk and shuffle” it, but that’s part of the beauty of the turkey trot–most of them are relatively short distances, and welcome participants of all abilities. The largest events have multiple distances from as short as a mile to a 10k or longer.
Historically, my family has celebrated both Thanksgiving and Christmas (and usually Dad’s birthday) over Thanksgiving weekend. For me, this meant going back to my home town, leaving all my healthy eating and exercise habits at home, and laughing with my brothers while consuming mass quantities of carbs and diet coke. Three years ago one of my brothers and his wife happened to have a membership to a tricked-out Lifetime Fitness and took me as a guest. That was the first “turkey trot” of my current running career.
Last year, I decided to convince my family to run the Detroit Turkey Trot. It was an epic failure in that regard, as every single one had an excuse not to run. I decided that even though it meant getting up before the sun and running in weather colder than what I’ve run in since moving to California in 2008, I was going to get in a run. (I may have had delusions of participating in the Runner’s World runstreak. We’ll pretend that didn’t happen.) I drove down to Cobo Hall to register, grab some selfies with The Parade Company giant heads, and hatch a race-day plan.
The Detroit Turkey Trot is one of the largest turkey trots in the country. Events include a 10k Turkey Trot, 5k Stuffin’ Strut, the Drumstick Double (run the 10k then the 5k), and the Mashed Potato Mile. The 10k route largely follows the Thanksgiving Day Parade route, lined with spectators (some of whom camp out in RVs all night to save their spots!) and through the gorgeous architectural reminders that Detroit was once one of the greatest cities in North America.
About two miles from the end of the course there is a Christmas cookies and candy canes aid station, and when the weather gets cold enough there are volunteers designated at each water station to throw rock salt and gravel to prevent ice from forming! There are shirts for all participants and medals for the 5k, 10k, and Drumstick Double, as well as what might be the world’s most efficient post-race food stations. (Yes, better than Disney.)
This year, I convinced Dad to join me. (His fiancee, worried he’d repeated his “I haven’t trained, but I think I’ll go kill this race” stunt from the Detroit International Half Marathon this October, made me promise not to let him get hurt.) My master plan was to have a good time, get a little exercise, and hit some unique portals in Ingress (my latest semi-fitness-related obsession, but more on that later.) So I set my Garmin for 1 minute intervals, with the intent to stroll a minute and jog at an easy pace for a minute.
The weather was warmer than last year (no ice danger at the aid stations!), and though there were a few sprinkles in the beginning, it turned out to be a gorgeous day for a run. There were a bunch of cute costumes, from turkeys to Santa suits. At the end of the run, we had some snacks and drove home to the Thanksgiving feast in Dad’s new condo. After a shower and a quick nap (being on “west coast time,” I had stayed up WAY too late), I felt great and was ready to celebrate with my family.
Speaking of family, my less-curmudgeonly brother went for a run. He’s about to turn 40, so he’s freaking out about “not getting fat” (and not being 30!). Though he refused my invitation to the Turkey Trot, he ran 6.3 miles–just because he always has to one-up me.
If you’re interested in running a turkey trot in 2017–hey, it’s not to early to think about it!–a quick google search for “turkey trot” and the name of your town or the nearest large-ish town will likely get you a handful of results. BibRave.com, a race review website, has participant-written reviews of many turkey trots.
Naturally a ton of my friends and fellow run-bloggers also ran this year. Here are just a few of their turkey trot reviews, for your reading pleasure. Running With Ollie chose the Cox Running Club Thanksgiving Day 5k in Fort Worth. My friend Andrew ran trails with Brazen Racing at the Nitro Turkey and Quarry Turkey (check out the bling!). Running on Happy ran the Cleveland Turkey Trot and had a different experience this year compared to last year. My First 5k and More did the Troy (NY) Turkey Trot 10k AND the 5k (check out the holiday presents, oh my!). Marcia’s Healthy Slice pointed out that races like the Mount Prospect Jaycees Turkey Trot are often at bargain prices. Chocolate Runs Judy did a turkey trot in Cohoes (NY)(see? they are everywhere!). Lauren Runs tackled the Suntree Turkey Trot. Weight Off My Shoulders did a race with a cute name, the Gobble Gobble Gobble Four Miler in Somerville (MA). The Tiny Terror ran her second turkey trot in Florence (SC). Finally, not every turkey trot is a shorter distance–Runspirations by Melissa did a full half marathon! (I love the medal for that race–what a great reminder of blessings all year.)
Did you run a turkey trot this year? A gobble wobble? How about a stuffin’ strut, mashed potato mile, or other holiday event?