The last Thursday of November is a day of traditions. On Thanksgiving we travel to be with family and friends; eat an abundance of turkey, potatoes, stuffing, vegetables and cranberry sauce; and finish off our feast with slices of apple pie and pumpkin pie. We watch parades and NFL games on television, and go watch local high schools battle their rivals. We nap, eat hot turkey sandwiches from the leftovers of our earlier meal and enjoy sharing stories and memories in the company of our loved ones.
And we run!
RUNNING ROAD races on Thanksgiving is a tradition that dates back more than a century. One of the oldest continually running foot races in the United States is the annual YMCA Turkey Trot in Buffalo, N.Y. Since 1896 this popular race has attracted participants from all over the world. This year’s event, its 118th, is sold out with 14,000 participants.
Local Thanksgiving Day races in this area include the Aiken Turkey Trot and the Turkey Day 5K in North Augusta. Both can be found on active.com.
The tradition of running on Thanksgiving is growing and may hit a milestone this year. According to a Nov. 14 story in Runner’s World magazine, “massive growth in turkey trots has propelled Thanksgiving Day to the top spot as the most popular holiday for road racing according to Running USA.”
Participation in road races on Thanksgiving has grown steadily over the past five years. Between 2008 and 2012, the number of participants of Turkey Day races has increased from approximately 380,000 to 835,000, and predictions are that the number this year could pass 1 million.
ALL THIS RUNNING on Thanksgiving may help us justify eating a lot of turkey, potatoes and pie. Maybe it is simply the growth in popularity of this activity. Or perhaps it is the peer pressure of family members who aim to make it a Turkey Day tradition.
Whether it is for your physical well-being or your mental health; to spend quality time with your friends; to get a cool Turkey Day running shirt; or to start or maintain a family tradition, go run. Whether you are racing for a personal best, running in costume, walking or trotting, go run.
(The writer is senior vice president for communications and marketing at Georgia Regents University; a board member of the Augusta Sports Council; and an avid runner who will be running the Seventh Annual Gobble Wobble with his father.)