10 runners on Why People Turkey Trot

tOn its Thanksgiving morning, millions of runners will gather to jog through their hometowns, connect with family, friends, and neighbors, while delaying their cooking. The local Turkish Trots have made the holiday the most popular race day of the year.

And no, it’s not just that the trotters want to feel better about their upcoming afternoon party. (PSA: You don’t have to “earn” your pie, holiday or not.) For many people—whether they’re serious runners or just logging these 3.1 miles a year—Turk Trot has become such an integral part of the holiday as watching a parade, eating mashed potatoes or taking a nap while listening to the lullaby of a football game. We spoke with some dedicated Turkish Ladders about their Thanksgiving running memories and what the tradition means to them.

Kimberly Cherington

Nags Head, North Carolina

“I don’t remember the first official Turkish sprint I did, but Thanksgiving is a very important day for me to run. Twenty-four years ago, I was new to running and lived in Fairfax Station, Virginia, where I would run in Lake Burke on the trails. I have four young children and running is ‘my time’. On Thanksgiving morning, I was out for a jog before getting ready for the party when I met a group of athletes who have become an inspiration to me, my coach, and my friends on our running journey. I. They helped me train and got me to the finish line in my first marathon, and we are still friends to this day. Thanksgiving always reminds me of the beautiful, fresh day at the lake. After that year, I made a commitment to run every Thanksgiving with friends and family.”

Maura Szendey

Andover, Massachusetts

“You show up and there are 10,000 of your best friends out there—you see everyone in town. Our race has been around for 30 or 35 years, so there are a lot of stories about people who started as teenagers and now they’re bringing their kids with them.”

“We get some pretty big name athletes coming in. Bill Rodgers often comes. I think Matt Damon ran it for a year. We let Joan Benoit Samuelson run it many times—she usually wins.”

Megan Brooks

New York, New York

“My first Turkish Trot came right after my first cross country season. I’m about 16 years old and I’ve never been a runner but I have a friend who encouraged me to run cross country. I signed up for the Turkey Trot competition, and I finished first in my age group and ended up winning a cake, which totally shocked me because I’m not a nimble person. I think that’s when I started thinking of myself as a runner. I did a half marathon a few months later, and I don’t think I would have done it if I hadn’t done the Turkish sprint. That was the beginning of everything.”

Ashley Shapiro

Charlotte, North Carolina

“I started running Turkey Trots around 2012 with my brother. We were very close, but we lived across the country, so it was a good way for us to find some connection—it would give us something to talk about leading up to it. , talk about training and if we have run in. So we did that for a couple of years, and then he passed away. My mother and I decided to continue the tradition. The first year, we didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving because we were so miserable, but we put on our shirts and went out to the Turkey Trot. The first few years were really hard, and we just walked. But it will still give us something to look forward to and a way to honor him.”

Paul Bui

Boston, Massachusetts

“After we moved to Boston, my wife offered to run for a free apple pie at the Turkey Trot. As an immigrant, I am curious and willing to experience new traditions. It was cold and I finally ran out of breath, but there were so many people participating—friends, family, young and old—and this brought me warmth. I realized it was more than a race.”

“I love running in costume—it provides an extra layer of protection from the wind and cold, and lifts everyone’s spirits for the holidays to come!”

Karen Lewis

Kill Demon Hills, North Carolina

“The first Turkish sprint that I remember I ran with my dad and sister. At the time, we were living outside of Dallas and I was in high school. It was eight miles, and the longest race I’ve ever run. I haven’t been able to go back eight miles since!”

“I especially like the tagline for the Turkish sprint I’m about to run: Run, Eat, Sleep. Doing the Turkey Trot makes me feel like I’m doing something healthy to start the day. And of course it’s all about the shirt!

Alyson Segilman

Palm Beach Garden, Florida

“I ran my first Turkish Trot in 2018, a personal milestone after being suddenly paralyzed in 2010 and not sure if I would ever walk let alone again. running. My brother visits every year for Thanksgiving so we decided to be one of those ridiculous families that wake up unnecessarily early on Thanksgiving to race. I feel so grateful to have the strength to run across that finish line, and having my brother with me makes it all the more special. Since then, we have made it an annual tradition.”

“Every year, I run the Turkey Trot with gratitude that my legs can help me go one step at a time and I get to run with my brother. We both listen to our own music and end up running at our own pace. I joke that I’m a bit of a bad runner and just love to run. Or walk. No pressure—just cross the finish line.”

Mary Claire Program

Murrells Inlet, South Carolina

“Holiday races are my favorite—we have Memorial Day races, July 4th, Labor Day, and Thanksgiving where I live. I love seeing people dressed up. My sister made me a ‘Burning Thighs Before Pies’ shirt that I will probably wear in this year’s Turkish Trot competition.”

“The Surfside revolving Turkish trot begins and ends at the Surfside Beach Pier. I love starting Thanksgiving by the ocean surrounded by my jogging friends and boyfriend. It was a great way to start the holiday.”

Lindsey Quebedeaux

New Braunfels, Texas

“After college, I set my sights on getting through 20 minutes in the 5K. Turkey Trot was the first place I did it, and I’m really happy. Another interesting memory is that my twin and I used to play against each other—he beat me for the most years, but one year he didn’t practice as much and I beat him. I’ve been teasing him about it all day.

Uma Staehler

Boston, Massachusetts

“It’s family time together, especially if your kids are coming home, or your siblings are coming home, or you’re traveling home—it’s a fun thing everyone can do together. and outside. Many of them raised funds to support Thanksgiving meals. You’re going to go home and eat this amazing meal, so make sure everyone gets a chance to do it.”


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