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How to run a Turkey Trot 2021 — how to find a Turkey Trot near you

a photo of runners at a Turkey Trot
(Image credit: Helen H. Richardson / Contributor)

If you’re looking for a fun way to start your Thanksgiving, or just fancy a challenge with family and friends before tucking into your lunch, why not sign up for a Turkey Trot? You might have heard of this Thanksgiving tradition, or even run one before, but after a year of cancellations due to Coronavirus restrictions, Turkey Trots are back! 

What is a Turkey Trot and how long is it? 

A Turkey Trot is a road race that usually takes place on Thanksgiving morning, which is the last Thursday in November in the U.S. This year, Thanksgiving falls on November 25. Most races will have different courses available, starting at a fun run of around one mile, and going up to a longer race for more experienced runners looking for a challenge. On average, Turkey Trots will have a couple of different races between 3.1 and 8 miles. 

The oldest Turkey Trot race is the Buffalo Turkey Trot, which has been put on by the YMCA every year since 1896. The race can be an easy fun run/walk, or a competitive, fast race — it completely depends on your goals. 

Upon crossing the Turkey Trot finish line, runners will receive a medal, which we encourage you to wear with pride for the rest of the day. Some races also give out Turkey-themed prizes, such as a Turkey T-shirt, or even a frozen Turkey for winners.  Talking of turkey, here's what happens to your body if you eat 1,000 extra calories a day.

How to find a Turkey Trot near you 

You can find more than 250 registered Turkey Trots on Active.com, where you can search by location to find the races closest to your home. Turkey Trots will usually have a registration fee for runners, but nearly all of them are run for charity, so rest assured the money goes to a good cause. 

a photo of a child wearing a turkey hat watching a turkey trot

(Image credit: Helen H. Richardson / Contributor)

Do you need to dress up? 

No, you absolutely don’t have to dress up, but running in a costume is encouraged, whether that be a full turkey suit or just a turkey hat. Turkey Trots often have prizes for the best costume, so get planning now. The most important thing is that you’re wearing a pair of supportive running shoes that fit your feet, if you need to upgrade your shoes, take a look at the best running shoes to buy right now. We’ve also hand-picked the best running shoes for women, and the best trail running shoes if your race is on mixed terrain. If you’re really trying to push yourself, we’ve found the best carbon fiber running shoes to help you PR this year’s Turkey Trot. 

Can kids take part?

Yes. One of the joys of Turkey Trot is that, unlike most other running races, it’s available to all ages and that you can run with the whole family. Of course, if you are running with young kids, it’s probably worth signing up for a shorter distance or a fun run. Even a 5K is a lot for little legs! 

Do I need to train for a Turkey Trot? 

This totally depends on the distance you plan on running. If you’re heading to the fun run or the 5K, you should be able to run-walk your way around the race (read our how to run a 5K guide here). If you’re going for a longer distance, such as a half-marathon, you’ll probably want to have done some proper training beforehand. Read our guide on how to train for a half marathon here. 

If the Turkey Trot inspires you to run longer races, then be sure to check out our Black Friday Garmin watch deals and Black Friday treadmill deals for discounts on the best training gear. 

Should I eat before my Turkey Trot? Do I need gels?

Again, this one totally depends on the distance you plan on running. Most Turkey Trots will be first thing in the morning, so if you do plan on eating, you'd probably want to opt for a light snack or breakfast a few hours before you hit the start line. You shouldn't need to carry extra fuel, like running gels, unless you are running a longer distance where you'll need to keep running for over an hour. Most races will offer water and snacks either before, during, or after the race. 

If you're planning to run a Turkey Trot and then prepare a Thanksgiving feast later, be sure to check out our guides on how to season a turkey, the best turkey fryers,  and the best Thanksgiving air fryer recipes

Jane McGuire

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past four years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.