By Tom Tarapacki (photos by Glenn E. Murray, Esq.)
The Buffalo Turkey Trot has a problem. It’s one of those “good problems,” but it’s still a problem. So many runners registered this year–about 12,000 runners–that organizers shut down registration. Although the great weather certainly contributed to the record registrations in 2009, the oldest continuous road race in North America has showed steady growth in recent years.
There are a number of reasons why the Turkey Trot has become so popular, despite the uncertainty of late November weather in Buffalo. Quite simply, the race has turned into an annual tradition for many, especially for Buffalo expatriates who are returning home for the holiday. The 5-mile early morning run helps many people feel a little less guilty about indulging in a big Thanksgiving meal later in the day, and the colorful costumes that more and more runners are wearing help make it more of an event than just a road race. (However, if you saw a deer behind the gates of Forest Lawn as you ran along the Delaware Avenue s-curves, that was not a costume). Another key reason for the race’s growth is that the Turkey Trot is a very well organized race, despite the overwhelming size of the field.
This year 10,930 people officially finished the race (that’s not counting runners who ran the course without registering). Last year the Trot had a then-record 10,200 entries for the race, and 9,098 runners officially finished the event.
The growing size of the field has been a mounting concern for race organizers, who want to ensure the safety of runners along the route, as well as safely and comfortably accomodate the many runners–along with friends and family–who gather in the Buffalo Convention Center for the post-race party. This year, the post-race party was extended to the first floor of the Convention Center, and that seemed to help.
So what do you think race organizers should do to enhance the Turkey Trot experience? Should they limit the number of entries, as some larger races do? Should they change the race course? Should they move the post-race party? What can they do to get more spectators actively involved?
Send in your ideas, and I’ll make sure that they get into the hands of the people who put on the Turkey Trot.