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Grateful for the gobble: in praise of the turkey trot

A male runner poses with a medal in front of a giant inflatable turkey that is wearing a sign that says “Tom.”

America’s oldest organized foot race has been running for nearly 124 years. This Thanksgiving, enjoy time with close family and find a COVID-safe turkey trot near you.

What is a turkey trot?

Have you ever seen a turkey trot? It’s no ostrich — the celebrated Thanksgiving bird has a stride that’s more of a wobble than a run. But we’re not here to discuss fowl running technique (at Brooks, we believe there’s not a wrong way to run.)

No, we’re talking about the popular annual race that happens all over the U.S. around the Thanksgiving holiday: the turkey trot.

The holiday race began in New York in 1896. That first year, six runners ran a 5-mile cross country race on dirt roads through downtown Buffalo. Year after year, runner participation increased in the original turkey trot, and other races began popping up for Thanksgiving all over the east coast. As running grew in popularity, so did the number of turkey trots across the country.

Over time, competitors began to dress up at the turkey trot in Buffalo. Runners wore everything from turkey costumes and superhero gear to banana suits, and the fun trend stuck.

Turkey trots are also sometimes known as Thanksgiving 5ks, but each event has its own way of doing things. Some trots include shorter or longer distances, different age groups, relays, and more.

A group of five runners, all with bib numbers, pose together after a race.
A detail photo of a runner sporting Thanksgiving themed socks while standing on gold fallen leaves.

Like most races in 2020, this year’s turkey trots will be different because of COVID-19. Organized races are still virtual in many cities. In Buffalo, for example, the turkey trot that started it all will be virtual for its 14,000-plus participants. Entrants will have the option to run, jog, or walk an 8k (4.97 miles) anytime between Thanksgiving Day and Sunday, November 26. To keep its streak going as the oldest continually run footrace in the U.S., YMCA Buffalo Niagara, which organizes the annual trot, will randomly select a field of 125 runners to participate in a live race.

Train for your trot

Getting ready for a race is like prepping your Thanksgiving meal — if you don’t have a proper plan in place, your day could turn from fun to folly in a hurry. Check out one of our race training plans created by Brooks Beasts coach Danny Mackey. Thanksgiving is coming up quickly. If race registrations have closed, use these plans to train and race on your own — even if it’s not on Thanksgiving day.

If you need some gobble-y good apparel, don’t miss our Turkey Trot Collection. Be sure to explore our Shoe Finder and Bra Finder to find the right gear for you.