Whether you’re a competitive runner hoping to finish the 8K course in less than a half-hour, or a recreational runner who plans a leisurely run dressed as a caterpillar or a pink flamingo, the YMCA Turkey Trot is the race for you. For more than a hundred years the YMCA Turkey Trot has attracted countless runners of all abilities to what has become an annual Thanksgiving morning tradition. It is, in fact, the oldest continually run footrace in North America. (Check out this fun Turkey Trot slide show)
The 113th YMCA Turkey Trot will be held on Thanksgiving morning, Thursday, November 27, beginning at 9:00AM. An entry costs $20 up to November 22nd, $25 up to November 26th, and $30 the day of the race. You can get information and register online at www.ymcabuffaloniagara.org. Proceeds from the event are used to underwrite programs and services of YMCA Buffalo Niagara.
The race begins at Delaware Avenue and Shoreham and follows Delaware into downtown, so it’s appropriate that this year’s t-shirt will feature “the doors of Delaware Avenue,” showing runners passing some of the doors that are found along the route to the Convention Center. The design will also be featured in a limited edition poster that will sell for $10. The posters will available at the pre-race packet pick-up at the Delaware YMCA from Monday, November 24 through Wednesday, November 26 between 9:00AM. – 9:00PM. One of the runners featured in the collage is Fred Gordon, who for many years was one of the area’s top runners. Despite having had a hip replaced about six years ago, this year Gordon will be participating in his 42nd Turkey Trot – more than anyone else.
The Turkey Trot is 5 miles long (actually 4.97 miles), and shouldn’t be too difficult for recreational runners, according to Race Director Tom Donnelly. However, he cautioned that they shouldn’t try to run with the top runners. “Don’t get caught up in the fast pace,” he said. “Run at a pace you’re comfortable with.”
Banners at the starting line with help place the faster runners to the front, and the slower runners to the back to help avoid congestion. If you expect to run the course at a 5-minute per mile pace, the banners will direct you to close to the starting line. Spaced out behind it are banners for a 6-minute mile pace, 7-minute mile pace, etc. “Find a pace you can handle, and line up near the appropriate banner,” said Donnelly.
However, don’t worry if you’re at the back of the pack. Donnelly pointed out that runners will receive computer chip timing devices in their race packets. The chips will record the actual start and finish times. At the end of the race runners will receive two results: “gun time,” which records your time from when the starting gun sounded and when you crossed the finish line; and, “chip time,” which is the time from when you actually crossed the starting line and when you crossed the finish line. Results will be posted during the post race party and will be available online. (However, keep in mind that, if you’re competing for an overall, masters, or age group award, those winners will be determined by gun times).
Runners will begin lining up at 8:30AM. If you want to park downtown, free shuttle buses take you from the Statler Towers to the Big Lots Plaza from 7:00 to 8:15AM. If you park close to the starting line, the buses will run from the Statler to the Big Lots Plaza from 10:30 to 11:45AM.
Many runners have a lot of fun with the event, and wear various costumes that add color to the race. However, Donnelly reminded everyone that roller blades, strollers, and dogs are not allowed on the race course as a courtesy to fellow participants.
The Turkey Trot is more than a race – it’s a massive Thanksgiving celebration, bringing together thousands of family, friends, and co-workers for an enjoyable workout prior to Thanksgiving dinner. Whether you’re a runner or a spectator, it’s an unforgettable way to spend Thanksgiving morning.