With Halloween long gone and most of the leaves already red-brown on the ground, November is suddenly here and it’s only a short time before the most bountiful holiday of the American calendar year.
But one side dish that has become as unique a part of the Thanksgiving celebration as cranberry sauce and the Macy’s Day parade is the Turkey Trot.
Depending on your location, a Turkey Trot can range anywhere from a brisk 5K to an all-out marathon. But what all these races have in common is that they are held on Thanksgiving with the goals of both raising money for charity and burning last minute calories before the big meal.
Here are six top Turkey Trots happening Thanksgiving morning throughout the Blue Ridge.
If you’re a central Virginia resident, you can work up a Thanksgiving day appetite by joining the Boar’s Head Turkey Trot. In true Charlottesville tradition, the Boar’s Head Inn hosts the University town’s 33rd annual Turkey Trot to raise money for UVA Children’s Hospital new Battle Building complex. The one 5K race can be run or walked and begins at 9:00 am, racers are encouraged to arrive by 8:15 am. The course circles through the beautiful Ednam forest. This year the top five male and female racers will be recognized and the top male and female overall will be awarded a fully cooked turkey prepared by the Old Mill Room at the Boar’s Head Inn.
Richmond 10K Turkey Trot
Looping around the campus of the University of Richmond, the Richmond Turkey Trot 10K will run from 9-11am on November 27th (Thanksgiving Day). The race is a city favorite and sells out at its 1600 participant limit. The course can be challenging, running mostly on hilly streets with about a ½ mile on trail by the campus’ lake. There is a free kids run before the main race at 8:30. All participating runners receive their own Turkey Trot t-shirt while first, second, and third place earn $75, $50, and $35 gift certificates. Additionally, the top male and female earn $50. The last day of registration is November 26th. If interested register here.
Local Chattanoogan Health Club, the Sportsbarn, is hosting a four-race Turkey Trot extravaganza at the Sportsbarn’s East location on Lee Highway. The pre-feast races all begin Thanksgiving morning: the One Mile Fun Run (every Turkey Trot has one of these) and 6/10 mile Kiddie-K run start at 8:30am, the three mile walk starts at 8:45 am (canines welcomed) and the 8K starts at 9:00 am. Cheaper pre-registration ends at noon the day before but participants cans still enter the day of the race for a slightly higher price ($15). The proceeds will benefit the Kidney Foundation of Chattanooga and donations are encouraged.
The Turkey Trot worth running Thanksgiving morning in Lynchburg begins downtown at the intersections of 8th and Main Street in front of the Wells Fargo. The races offered are a 5k, Fun Walk course beginning at 9:00 am and the Youth One Mile Course at 8:00 am. Registration will continue until thirty minutes before the race but prices will rise as Thanksgiving nears. All participants will receive a Turkey Trot race shirt and winners are awarded their very own smoked Turkey. The Trot is sponsored by Wells Fargo and proceeds will benefit the programs of Virginia nonprofit, Humankind, which provide and promote residential health care, early childhood development, Mental Health Services, Economic Empowerment, Safe and Healthy Living,
Starting at the Suntrust Plaza, the Drumstick Dash is a 5K race that begins Thanksgiving morning at 9:00 a.m. and winds through downtown Roanoke. The Dash is sure to put families in the spirit of giving, permitting racers of all ages to participate in one of four categories: runner, walker, baby in stroller, and dog on leash. Rain or shine the Dash will go on, awarding the top three overall male and female as well as the top three male and female in the 40 and over division and 14 and under division. Proceeds provide food, shelter, and clothing to the 350-plus people serviced by Rescue Mission Ministries, Roanoke.
On Thanksgiving morning in Asheville, expect a busy Pack Square Park for the cities Jus’ Runnin 5K Turkey Trot & Gobble Wobble 1 Mile Fun Run. This will be the 5k Trots 14th year. The event is sponsored by Earth Fare and a portion of the proceeds will be given to the MANNA Food Bank. The Fun Run begins at 8:30 a.m. while the Trot starts at 9:15 a.m. sharp. Both races begin and end at Pack Square Park.
–David Hollerith is a freelance writer, Virginian, and outdoorsman currently residing and writing in Nashville, Tenn.