Turkey Trot: 6 Gobble-Friendly Reasons to Run on Thanksgiving

It's Thanksgiving morning...

  • Do you sleep in and save your energy for cooking, eating and football? Or...
  • Do you grab your running shoes and head out the door for a local Turkey Trot race?

Every year an estimated 1 million runners participate in one of 1,000+ races on Thanksgiving Day.

And most aren't chasing fast mile splits, PRs, or course records.

So why run a Turkey Trot race or a DIY version of your own?

Check out these SIX gobble-friendly reasons to go for a run on Thanksgiving Day...

1. It's tradition

The first documented Turkey Trot was held in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1896. Six elite runners showed up to run the 8K distance. Today, an estimated 1 million runners participate in Turkey Trot races around the U.S.

It all started 126 years ago in Buffalo, N.Y.

Yep. That Buffalo, N.Y., that's currently buried in six feet of snow.

In 1896, the Buffalo Y.M.C.A. hosted an 8K race on Thanksgiving Day, drawing an elite group of 6 runners.

  • Runner Henry A. Allison cruised to the finish in 31:12. 
  • Three more runners were close behind.
  • One runner dropped out after trying to keep the pace for just two miles
  • And another runner failed to finish after losing his breakfast (yep, GI issues have plagued runners for a long time)

While the earliest Turkey Trot was only for elite athletes, it's become a Thanksgiving Day tradition for walkers and runners.

An estimated 1,000 cities across the U.S. like Kent, Ohio host annual Turkey Trot races on Thanksgiving Day for walkers, joggers, and runners. It's a social event.

2. Be social

It's no secret fall is a popular time of year for marathons and half marathons.

Not everybody can (or wants to) run 13.1 to 26.2 miles.

But just about everybody loves a good social event.

At most Turkey Trots, you'll see family and friends, fellow runners, and out-of-towners chatting at the starting line (sometimes even dressed in costumes).

And the vibe is always chill. (Sometimes literally).

But even if you have to brave cold temperatures, it's still fun to catch up with friends and chat with other runners.

WeeViews runner Carey Harris ran the annual Turkey Trot in Attica, Indiana before the Thanksgiving Day meal.

3. Burn calories

Did you know the average person eats about 3,000 calories during the Thanksgiving meal?

You know...

  • Turkey
  • Gravy
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Rolls
  • Salads
  • Desserts

And that's just the main meal. Add up the rest of your meals, snacks and drinks throughout the day, and you could hit 5,000 calories.

Fortunately, participating in a Turkey Trot helps you burn some calories to offset this national day of eating.

Fun fact...

  • Walking for 30 minutes burns an average of 200 calories
  • Running for 30 minutes burns an average of 500 calories 

Hit a Turkey Trot in the morning, and you'll be ready when it's time for dessert.

Volunteers for the Sandy Community Action Center in Sandy, Ore., help load 200-plus turkeys paid for by donations from the annual Tickle Trot 5K. Many Turkey Trot races help raise funds for local food banks.

4. Support a cause

Here's another reason to run a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving day:

  • Most Turkey Trot races help raise food and funds for local food banks

For example, in Sandy, Ore., the Sandy Community Action Center hosts the annual 5K Tickle Trot (on the Tickle Creek Trail).

The race is free, but participants can make cash donations to support the center's Thanksgiving Box Program.

Want to run for a cause?

  • Look for a local Turkey Trot in your area, and find out if the event helps support a local food bank.
  • FYI...some Turkey Trot races collect cash donations and canned food.

It's a great way to practice the spirt of Thanksgiving to be grateful and help others in need.

Getting out there for an early-morning Turkey Trot is a great way to burn off some stress and prepare for everything that comes with celebrating Thanksgiving Day.

5. Reduce stress

Let's face it. The holidays can be stressful. 

The big stressors tend to come from things like:

  • Travel
  • Relationships
  • Weather
  • Money
  • Cooking

Getting out there for an early-morning Turkey Trot is a great way to burn off some of that stress, get your mind right, and prepare for everything that comes with celebrating Thanksgiving Day.

If you're a Black Friday shopper, running a Turkey Trot can help test your skills to beat the crowd and chase down deals.

6. Test your Black Friday shopping skills

If you're a Black Friday shopper, running a Turkey Trot can help test your skills to beat the crowd and chase down deals.

You know...

  • You eat all the food during the Thanksgiving meal
  • Then you page through store ads to create your Black Friday shopping game plan
  • You wake up with all the other zombies and dash out the door to beat the crowds and get the deals

Or if you're a modern-day Black Friday shopper...

  • You might just stay home
  • Grab the online Black Friday deals

And then go for a run.

Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at WeeViews.

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Evan Jensen
Ambassador
SANDY, Oregon

I help RUNNERS reduce injuries, fix running form, run longer & faster by strength training without running ragged. I'm a NASM-certified personal trainer, and hold the record for the most finishes at the Mountain Lakes 100-Mile Ultra in Oregon.

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