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I run for turkey: why turkey trots are taking over

Photo by: Chris CastPhoto by: Chris Cast

Every year tens of thousands of people participate in Thanksgiving Day races, often dawned the adorable name of a “Turkey Trot.”

Turkey trots across the country have substantially grown in popularity in the last 10 years, so much as to earn Thanksgiving the title of the most popular holiday for running! Thanksgiving is now followed by the Fourth of July at number two while New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day slides into third.

In 2013, Runner’s World reported a massive growth in turkey trots that officially bumped Fourth of July out of its number one spot. In 2012, there were 490 Thanksgiving-Day races, versus 290 in 2008. And in 2012, there were more than 858,000 finishers — up 155% from 2008. 

Turkey Trots are no ordinary road races. These races attract many by donating funds to charity, offering cash prizes for winners and encourage goofy costumes. Most turkey trots are geared toward fun as opposed to competition, which makes for a great activity for the whole family. Plus, Turkey Trots give you a little more wiggle room when it comes to eating to your heart’s desire later in the day.

How did they all begin?

The Buffalo Turkey Trot is widely considered as the first race of its kind, and it’s still run at 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving just as it was for the first time in 1896. That’s the year Henry A. Allison beat out five other all-male runners in a 5-mile unpaved race in Buffalo, N.Y., according to the YMCA Buffalo Niagara. The event — thankfully now on paved roads and also accepting women —has more than 14,000 participants yearly.

Several other races have been in operation for more than a century and boast long histories. Many communities host small running events, and several races in cities like Dallas and Sacramento, Calif., attract tens of thousands.

This article originally appeared in USA Today.

Are you a Thanksgiving runner? Who all is participating in a Turkey Trot this year?

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