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Turkey Trots: The History & Fun Facts

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The history and fun facts about Turkey Trots Turkey Trots: The History & Fun Facts www.runnerclick.com

Turkey Trots are a popular Thanksgiving Day tradition that everyone in the family loves.  But as a runner, this tradition is right up your road!  It does help ensure you get your run in especially if there is a ton of family in town and you are in charge of entertaining. Or you are that family in town and you’re already nervous about how the travel will impact your running schedule. It’s one of the few times a year you can convince family members to run with you and if you’re competitive, allow yourself to just run for the fun of it. Besides, everyone, even the laziest of couch potatoes, want to be in a calorie deficit before heading to the Thanksgiving table. It doesn’t hurt that most Trots raise thousands of dollars to benefit charitable organizations.


Like many other holiday races, a wide-variety of the participants will be donning themed outfits, crazy turkey hats and matching t-shirts but there is always that one set of people that really knock it out of the ballpark. What other race can you even fathom seeing a man dressed as a chef chasing another man dressed as a turkey? While it’s all in the spirit of the togetherness and giving spirit that is the holiday season, here are some fun, unknown facts behind the history of the Turkey Trot.

The Turkey Trot Tradition is Older than Boston

As a runner one of the most revered traditions is the Boston Marathon which can be considered hallowed ground by some. The Boston Marathon’s first running was over 200 years ago in 1897 but the very first recorded Turkey Trot was one year before in 1896 in the town of Buffalo, NY.  (However, this race probably didn’t have any turkey hats.)

The Oldest Turkey Trot Forbid Women

Like many long running races, the oldest running Turkey Trot, the YMCA Buffalo Niagara Turkey Trot, forbid women from participating for many of its early years. It wasn’t until 75 years after the race began that in 1972 the first woman ran the race in Buffalo. The current female record was set in 1998 by Victoria Mitchell who was an overall women’s winner 8 times.

They Set Records

Any time thousands of people gather there is opportunity for records to be broken. The Capital One Bank Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot in Dallas, Texas managed to set a World Record in 2011 for the most people dressed as turkeys at a single get-together. That’s a whole lot of tail-feathers.

If you are looking to spend the holiday helping keep a world record and do it with over 29,000 of your closest friends, then head to Sacramento. Last year the Run to Feed the Hungry earned the title of largest Turkey Trot in the country with 29,022 participants.

And there are even records for the charitable contributions earned by Trots. The Mile High United Way Turkey Trot in Denver, CO is the highest earning fundraiser for the United Way. The Western and Southern Thanksgiving Day 10k in Cincinnati provides Goodwill with the most coats of any of the other Goodwill coat drives all year.

Sweets Included

Who doesn’t like to cap Thanksgiving Dinner off with a good piece of decadent pie. But what about your Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot? A lot of the Turkey Trots provide goodies after the race. The Feaster Five Road Race in Maryland provides an entire Apple Pie to the first 90% of finishers. The Chase Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot in Columbus, Ohio has a pumpkin pie for everyone who runs, walks or wobbles over the finish line. And if you are only  in the mood for mama’s pie and not a stranger’s but still want a goodie for your efforts, you can run Naperville Turkey Trot and finish the race with your first carb-heavy meal of the day and partake in post-race pancakes.

Fur Family Friendly

If you are lucky enough to be hanging around the panhandle of Florida close to Pensacola you can even enlist the participation of the fur family. At the Pensacola Trot for Thought 5k, dogs can run the course with you. Rover will be elated. Planning on being the Lonestar state for the 2017 Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot? Register your pooch by completing a Dog Registration. And while you get a shirt, your pup gets a Turkey Trot dog bandana for his efforts.  Just as an FYI, Rover is not permitted in the Timed Runner Corral. But that is ok because he’d smoke everyone anyways.

While We’re Talking About Turkeys

Since we are talking about turkey trots how fast can they run on those drumsticks? Turns out those delicious legs can turnover. Wild turkeys can run up to speeds topping out at 25 miles an hour and fly at speeds maxing out at 55 miles per hour. Those domesticated birds you see at your local Funny Farm don’t fair quite so well. They are heavier since they are not out hunting food and therefore run much slower than their wild counterparts. But I bet they’d still beat any human around.

No matter the reason you gobble, wobble, trot, run or walk there’s a good and interesting time to be had by all. The Turkey Trot Tradition is one not to easily be tossed aside. There is always that young energetic family member down for anything and of course you, the token runner, pushing everyone out the door, who as you know, are over-dressed and wearing cotton.

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