Skip to content (Press Enter)

8 Reasons to Run a Turkey Trot

A crowd of runners begins a race at the starting line of the Buffalo YMCA Turkey Trot

Turkey trots have been an American tradition for more than 120 years, and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon.

The YMCA Turkey Trot in Buffalo, New York, held its inaugural race in 1896 and now hosts up to 14,000 runners each year. Today, there are too many turkey trots to count.

Most cover 5K to 10K distances and are held on or just before Thanksgiving day. They support local charities, encourage quirky Turkey Day costumes and often include out-of-the-ordinary prizes, such as actual frozen turkeys.

If you’ve never joined the Thanksgiving Day fun, here are 8 reasons to join in the fun.

A man wearing a turkey costume runs in the Buffalo YMCA Turkey Trot

Food

The average Thanksgiving dinner contains 3,000-4,500 calories. Yikes! Runners burn roughly 100 calories per mile, so running a 5K or 10K race won’t offset your entire dinner. But it will ready your appetite and make your holiday meal taste even better.

Fall weather

Many runners argue that autumn is the best time of year for running and racing. Besides, a turkey hat feels surprisingly comfy in freezing temperatures. Embrace the cool weather, colored leaves and the things that make the fall special.

Gratitude

If you are fit and healthy enough to complete a race, you have plenty to be thankful for. Run a turkey trot to thank, challenge and celebrate your body for the incredible things it lets you do. Expressing gratitude is good for your health. Intentionally grateful people experience all kinds of benefits ranging from better sleep and higher self-esteem to fewer physical aches and pains.

Community

What better way to connect to your community than to spend time running on neighborhood streets and trails in support of local causes? If you are visiting family or enjoying a Thanksgiving getaway, a turkey trot is the perfect place to take in the culture of another town. Feast your eyes on the best people-watching opportunity of the year.

Giving

Many turkey trots give a portion of race proceeds to food drives or other local initiatives that help families in need. Find a mission-based race in your area for a fun and easy way to contribute.

Family

Whether it’s your biological family or your chosen one, a turkey trot is a fun and light-hearted way to bond with your people. Many families will run or walk races together, come up with group costumes, race each other or compete to see who can donate the most canned goods.

Tradition

Yearly rituals help us mark the passage of time. Take a family turkey trot photo year after year and see how everyone changes. Watch the kids in your life progress from the fun runs to the full-length races over the years. Engage in an ongoing tradition or create a new one to reflect on where life has taken you.

Celebration

Holidays are the perfect time to take a break from everyday life and celebrate what’s meaningful to you. You’re alive! Life is good! So, sign up for a turkey trot and have a blast.


By Kate Schwartz. Schwartz has been running competitively for 20 years, and she currently runs with the Asheville Running Collective. She lives in Asheville, NC, with her husband, Alex, and their cat, Clementine.

Keep Reading