Thanksgiving is the biggest day for road races – both in number of races and racing participants. According to Running USA, in 2011, 676,000 people finished a race on Thanksgiving – compared to the runner-up of July 4th which saw 248,000 people finish. In addition, the 2011 Thanksgiving boasted 470 races that were run that day.
Here is a list of the largest Thanksgiving Day races in 2012 (as collected by finishing numbers by Running USA):
1) Run to Feed the Hungry 5K/10K, Sacramento, CA, 22,546
2) YMCA Turkey Trot 5K/8 Mile, Dallas, TX, 21,564
3) Detroit Turkey Trot 5K/10K/1 Mile, Detroit, MI, 19,976
4) Silicon Valley Turkey Trot 5K/10K, San Jose, CA, 19,951
5) Turkey Trot 5 Mile/1 Mile, Austin, TX, 19,743
6) Turkey Trot 5K/10K/1 Mile, Clearwater, FL, 15,800
7) Thanksgiving Day Race 10K, Cincinnati, OH, 14,862
8) Manchester Road Race 4.75 Mile, Manchester, CT, 13,416
9) Delaware YMCA Turkey Trot 8K, Buffalo, NY, 12,509
10) Atlanta Half-Marathon/5K/1 Mile, Atlanta, GA, 11,013
Those are some pretty impressive numbers! It is nice to see so many people making such a good, health-conscious decision before tackling all the delicious food of the day! Thanksgiving Day races have always had a special place in my running heart. There is just something great about waking up on a cool, crisp autumn morning to go run with other holiday runners. My race of choice for Thanksgiving was a local 10K. The runners were great, the course was fun, and the post-race food was just right. On top of that, it was never known what kind of weather you were going to encounter!
One of the great things about Thanksgiving Day races is that you know most of the people are local runners or relatives of locals. It just makes it feel like a tighter group! It also helps when you are chasing age-group prizes as you are able to know who you have to compete against since it is rare to find someone to travel far for a Thanksgiving Day race! Knowing that and what my competition looked like helped me to pull some age-group awards! The one that was just always out of reach was the family team award. My brother and I always entered as a brother-brother team. The cumulative total of our race times was what the competition looked at for final scores. We were always just beat by a brother team that was really fast! Oh well! Maybe someday when we are older! 🙂
Probably the best thing about a Thanksgiving Day race is how good you feel sitting down at the Thanksgiving table after clicking off some race miles a few short hours before. Now you can go ahead and attack all of that great food in front of you!
Have you ever run a Thanksgiving Day race? If so, what is your race of choice? If not, why not look for your local race on Thanksgiving and go out there to run or walk it this year! You will be so happy that you did!