What’s Your Favorite Turkey Trot Memory?

Turkey at the Alexandria Turkey Trot
Are you a Turkey Trotter? (Photo credit: voteprime)

Thanksgiving is a holiday rife with traditions. For some it’s waking up early to get the turkey in the oven, or playing football in the back yard. For others it’s thumbing through ads to see the Black Friday deals, spending time with friends or volunteering to share food with people in need.

For my family and many others, it’s become the Turkey Trot.

I’m really lucky that I share a love of running with my sister, but living in separate cities we unfortunately hardly ever get to share the experience of running itself.  I never realized how much I’ve begun looking forward to the Turkey Trot with her every year until this year. See, since Salty is 39 weeks pregnant now we figured a Turkey Trot wasn’t really in the cards, and it would be better if I waited until next week to visit and meet my new niece or nephew. Still, even though I can’t run with them this Thanksgiving, I’ll be thinking of my family when I run my Turkey Trot here in Brooklyn, New York.

How about you? Do you make a tradition out of running a Turkey Trot at Thanksgiving each year? These races have ubiquitous around the USA, and many are so popular they sell out long before Thanksgiving Day… Are you one of the millions of runners who will be trotting their heart out tomorrow? Will you bring your family? Readers, what are your favorite Turkey Trot Memories?

Read on to see the Salty bloggers’ answers, and add your own Trot story in the comments!

Salty: When I first met my husband he was a serious runner and I was a fitness jogger, and over the months I became more serious about my running too. As I became fitter and more dedicated to improving my performance, he’d always joke that he’d never let me beat him, so of course, that caused me to become a little overeager to do it! At the Turkey Trot in 2010, 5 months after I had my daughter, I was just getting back into shape. Meanwhile my husband had mostly stopped running to focus on his new love of farming. This was my chance! We lined up for the 5 mile race and I went out like a bat out of heck – way too fast. Oopsy!  I kept plugging along though and with about .5 miles to go, my husband came up on me and we started pushing each other. By the end we were both all out sprinting and to this day I don’t even know who won! We crossed the line in a dead tie, both huffing and puffing after running as hard as we could. It was at once exhilarating, frustrating and hilarious! I love that guy!

It helps that I love the bright yellow color, but the little guy on my shoulders is one of the real reasons this shirt commemorates the best Turkey Trot ever.

Cinnamon: In the fall of 2009 I was transitioning jobs and was really stressed out about my work situation (wow, feels familiar). I had planned to wait until Christmas to go visit my family in Cleveland, but my sister convinced me to come home for Thanksgiving. “Come on!” she said, trying to cheer me up, “We can run the Turkey Trot, beat Elvis, get our pies and go home.” She was really pregnant with my niece that year, so she was slow enough that I could see her the whole time I was running, and I realized during that race just how much running had brought us together, and what that meant for our family. I spent the whole weekend having quality time with my family, talking with my grandparents and playing with my nephew, and it was a huge recharge that helped keep me smiling through the tough winter months, when work was really scarce. To this day, the t-shirt from that Turkey Trot is my most prized running possession!

Ginger: I ran a 4 mile trot last year and set a PR. The race was in a cemetery and all proceeds went to a homeless shelter. It was a great race for the Akron, Ohio community; they keep the entry fee low ($12) and raise a ton of money!

Clove: I’ve only run one Turkey Trot, and to be frank, it wasn’t that memorable.  I didn’t race it, the course was kind of boring, and I think I was preoccupied with everything I had to get done at home.  I have, however, run with turkey trots – and it’s quite a funny little story.  You see, young Clove here was a brand spanking new runner, about five months old.  She helped her mom get the turkey in the oven … watched the Macy’s Day Parade … dawdled a little … and found herself eating family dinner at 2 pm.  Well, dessert was scheduled for 6 pm and Clove felt guilty about missing that run, so off she went around 5 pm to get in a token 5-miler.  With an entire Thanksgiving dinner in her little gut.  Clove learned a valuable lesson that day about holidays and running:  schedule a rest day or deal with the 5 AM wake up call.  And preferably, just schedule a rest day …

Mint: The first time a friend of mine and I ran the local turkey trot on Thanksgiving day, it was crazy windy, icy and 20 degrees below zero.  Some people may have elected to sleep in – but we got out there and did it though.  It was pretty brutal and we had to cover our faces to protect ourselves from the wind.  But once we finished, we felt totally BA and we knew we earned our turkey and fixin’s!  We went home and enjoyed some hot chocolate (with a bit of  Baileys) before we started cooking for our families.  It was a great way to start Thanksgiving and we still talk about it to this day.  This year, I will be running the 10k with my 11 year old son.  Hopefully it will be a bit more temperate!

Pepper’s whole family has become annual Turkey Trotters – Go Dad!

Pepper: My one and only Turkey Trot has always been Detroit. For those that haven’t done it it is pretty crazy. 20,000 + people running the streets of Detroit, often in costume. Last year I was unable to run and I cheered for the family from the sidelines. This event started as something I did solo or with my sister and has morphed into a full family affair including cousins and their kids as well as my parents and sister and my then husband. Last year though I would have much prefered racing and trying to up my runner up status from the previous year, I was really proud to see the whole family out there and reflect on the fact that my crazy running has inspired such a wonderful family tradition.

Rosemary: I’m not a regular turkey trotter. I ran my first Turkey Trot in 2009 and won $100 gift card to Dick’s Sporting Goods. But usually I just like to get in a run with family or friends before eating my weight in potatoes and pumpkin pie.

Sassafras: This year will mark my fifth Turkey Trot. My favorite thing about them is not necessarily one memory, but just the camaraderie that comes from spending your Thanksgiving morning running in the company of friends and sometimes family. I’m super excited for this year’s, because nearly the whole family will be either running or walking. The race benefits a charity that was near and dear to my grandpa’s heart, which makes it extra special!

Mace: One year I ran the wrong race.  No joke.  This is explained in gory detail in chapter six of my book, “Honey, Do You Need a Ride? Confessions of a Fat Runner,” but I think you’re allowed to plagiarize yourself, so here’s the short version:

I was running late for a 10K Turkey Trot in Richmond, VA and got there just in time to pull in a parking spot and sprint to the start.   A half-mile or so into the race, I started looking around and realized everyone else was wearing a different colored bib than me.  Plus, the course was on a paved path, not the trail I was expecting. Turned out there were TWO stinkin’ Turkey Trots in Richmond, and both started in the same area.  I had stumbled into the 5K, which was held on a country club course. My race started a mile or so away.  I was an unintentional bandit, which haunts my dreams to this day.

Thyme: This year will only be my second Turkey Trot – my first was freshman year of college.  I’d been taking a break from running after cross-country season had ended and was out of shape for a 5 mi race.  The best part was the ending!

Licorice: My only Turkey Trot per se was a couple of years ago, and it was sort of a horrible day – cold and wet and rainy. As a result, my favorite Thanksgiving run memory is just a regular old Thursday morning run, not a formal Turkey Trot. It was several years ago, and we were staying at my then-boyfriend’s sister’s place in rural Ohio. I woke up early and set out for a run on the country roads first thing in the morning after an overnight snowfall. It was quiet, new scenery, and I was the only one out. An absolutely perfect run.

Vanilla: The Flying Feather 2010 4-miler, I was leading, and then my shoe came untied after 1.25 miles.  There were too many miles to run on one untied shoe, so I had to stop and tie it.  Once I got back into the race, I hightailed it, hearing comments from people about my surprise stop.  I finished and nearly set a new 4-mile PR…missed it by just a few seconds.  Darn shoe!

Pumpkin Pie from a *real* pumpkin.
Better than a medal BY FAR! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ginkgo: I always love running the Cleveland Hermes Turkey Trot and will continue that tradition this year. My favorite memory involves a fiasco, but it also involves winning a PUMPKIN PIE. I was one of top finishers in my age group (thinking I ran 34 minutes and some change as that is what I typically am capable of) and crossed the line to get a pumpkin pie handed to me. Move over medals, THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT! After the great rush of excitement, my college running bud and I headed to the car to make it to our family feastings that afternoon (cooking with my mom is what I look forward to most), only to find out I had a flat tire. Go figure. We sat and chatted and blared the music and the heat and were thankful that we had each other until the Triple A guys came and saved us.

Coriander: Ever since I started running in 2009, I’ve ran the Cleveland Turkey Trot. It’s a five-mile race and it’s the biggest short distance race of the year. In 2011, I ran my first 50K in November, a week later ran a good half marathon and then the same week ran the Turkey Trot. My five-mile PR then was 40 and some change. My only goal was to run a hard race and finish sub-40:00. It was chilly but the sun was shining and I was feeling a PR. I popped my iPod in and ran hard to a 38:50! It is still one of my best running accomplishments.


What about you, readers? What’s your favorite Turkey Trot memory?

Cinnamon made Salty Running, works on movies and TV and drinks lots of coffee. She is on a quest for zen in the 10k. Her writing is an eclectic mix of finding wholeness as an average runner, celebrating her faster peers, curious reactions, satirical humor and more.

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  1. As a Brit, this will be my third Thanksgiving and my second since I started running again. Last year, we were appalled at the prices of Turkey Trots around here, so the Husband and I started our own. We roped in one unsuspecting American and a visitor from the UK and hit the roads with reindeer antlers, a Santa hat and other exciting headwear. It’s my only Turkey Trot memory and as such is my best.

    We hope to run again tomorrow. Three Indian friends are threatening to join us. None of our American friends are so crazy!!

  2. Vanilla! I have won two races with an untied shoe too 🙂 My shoe came untied at mile .75 of a 5 miler and I just ran with a loose shoe to the end and then it came untied at mile 10 of a half marathon and I just ran with a floppy shoe again. And I’m so sad I’m going to miss TT’ing in Downtown Cleveland with my sister, Ginkgo and Coriander. Have a great morning trotting tomorrow everyone!

  3. I ran my first turkey trot this year. Yes, I said ran. It is held the sunday before thanksgiving. It makes it a little less stressful getting things done. I will probably do it again. It was hard and kicked my butt but the good news is that now I feel like I can have that extra slice of pie because of the race. 🙂

    1. My team here in Boulder has the same racing singlet! Love it! There is a turkey trot in my area two weeks before Thanksgiving. I think they did it because there are so many races. Glad you had fun, and enjoy the holiday and goodies!