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America’s Best Turkey Trots

Buffalo YMCA Turkey Trot

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The Turkey Trot tradition goes back to 1896, when America’s first Thanksgiving Day race was held in Buffalo, NY. The YMCA Turkey Trot celebrates its 119th anniversary in 2014, making it the oldest footrace in the U.S.—five months older than the more famous Boston Marathon. The 8K run has grown from just six men (women didn’t participate until 1972) to a sold-out field of 14,000 runners and walkers. Many revelers compete for best individual and group costume, and a live band plays the post-race party inside the Buffalo Convention Center. A fundraiser for the YMCA Buffalo Niagara, the Turkey Trot also includes a food drive aiming to collect 5,500 lbs. of donated goods.

Photo: YMCA Buffalo Niagara

Capital One Bank Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot

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Everything is bigger in Texas. The Capital One Bank Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day is the largest in the U.S., with an expected turnout of 40,000 runners and walkers for the 8-mile and 5K events. The race even set the Guinness World Record for the "Largest gathering of people dressed as turkeys” in 2011. Participants can choose to be timed or run for fun. Bring Fido along too: Unlike most races, dogs are welcome with untimed participants, and many even dress like turkeys for the occasion. A Mascot Trot the day before brings together professional, college, and high school mascots from the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, Dallas Stars, and the Turkey Trot’s own Tommy the Turkey.

Photo: On Location Portraiture

Fifth Third Turkey Trot

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More than 20,000 people and a few foot-powered floats participate in the “Parade Before the Parade” at the 10K Fifth Third Turkey Trot in Detroit, MI. Runners at every event earn a finisher’s medal for the title 10K, a Stuffing Strut 5K, and Mashed Potato Mile. Feeling fast? Take on the Drumstick Double: Run both the 10K at 7:30 a.m. and 5K at 8:30 a.m. to earn a special medal. Then stick around to watch America’s Thanksgiving Parade at the post-race party. And don’t forget your costume: 2,000 runners compete for honors in five categories. (Plus, you can recycle that turkey outfit in one of the 10 Best Costume Races in the U.S. next year!)  

Photo: Fifth Third Turkey Trot

Atlanta Half Marathon

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Need to burn a lot of Thanksgiving calories? The Atlanta Half Marathon presented by Northside Hospital in Georgia might be your best bet. The 13.1-mile race tours runners past Atlanta’s landmarks including Centennial Olympic Park, Atlantic Station, Piedmont Park, and Oakland Cemetery, with a start and finish under the Olympic Rings at Turner Field. The Atlanta Track Club event hosts more than 12,000 runners and walkers at the festivities, which also include a Thanksgiving Day 5K, Mashed Potato Mile for all ages, and Gravy Gallop for kids. Half marathon and 5K finishers earn a medal, long-sleeve tech shirt, and the satisfaction of knowing they earned their turkey dinner.

Photo: Atlanta Track Club

Chase Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot

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It’s not Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie, and the top 2,100 finishers at the Chase Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot in Columbus, OH, take home a fresh one from Whole Foods Market. Choose between the 5 Miler or 2.5 Mile "Walk N' Talk" events at Ohio State University, and you’ve got a shot at the pie. The first 1,000 men and 1,000 women in the run win dessert, along with the top 100 walkers. Kids get goodies too at the free McDonald’s Tot Trot. Everyone gets a tech shirt, swag bag, and finish line food. Dogs and babies in strollers are welcome among the 7,000 participants too.

Want to lighten up this year's post-race feast? Try one of these 7 healthy twists on your favorite Thanksgiving dishes

Photo: ULTRAFIT-USA

Run To Feed The Hungry

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Most Thanksgiving Day races benefit charity, but perhaps none is quite so successful as Run To Feed The Hungry in Sacramento, CA. More than 28,500 runners join the 10K run and 5K run/walk to help raise the Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services’ goal of $150,000. Run the tree-lined courses through East Sacramento individually or as part of a team. Best of all, you don’t have to decide which distance you’d like to tackle until race day.

Photo: Run To Feed The Hungry

Manchester Road Race

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The Manchester Road Race in Connecticut began in 1927 with just 12 racers, but has become a New England Thanksgiving Day tradition with a sold-out field of 15,000 runners completing the 4.748-mile course, including elite athletes competing for their share of the $49,300 prize purse and costumed runners out for a good time. More than 30,000 spectators turn out to cheer them on, and a spaghetti dinner helps runners fuel up the night before.

Photo: John Long

Mile High United Way Turkey Trot

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One mile high and four miles long, the Mile High United Way Turkey Trot in Denver, CO celebrates Thanksgiving morning with 10,000 revelers in Washington Park. Sip coffee before the start or suds at the Finish Village beer garden, and bring the kids to the quarter-mile Family Fun Run. Everyone gets a short-sleeve tech shirt and pup runners earn a Turkey Trot bandana with a small donation. As a fundraiser for United Way, registration fees go toward improving childhood literacy, high school graduation rates, and more.

Photo: United Way

Feaster Five Thanksgiving Day Road Race

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The only thing more American than Thanksgiving is apple pie, and the first 9,000 finishers at the Feaster Five Thanksgiving Day Road Race in Andover, MA will win the all-American dessert to take home. Choose from 5-mile or 5K runs, and bring everyone you know to compete in the Friends and Family Contest. Race week starts with the three-day Feaster Five Expo, and race day begins with 100 to 600-yard kids dashes. The event has hosted celebrities like Matt Damon and running legends Joan Benoit Samuelson and Bill Rodgers.

Photo: Feaster Five Thanksgiving Day Road Race

Dana Point Turkey Trot

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The Dana Point Turkey Trot in California’s Orange County might be one of most scenic Thanksgiving Day races around the U.S. More than 12,000 participants tour the gorgeous Dana Point Harbor and Doheny State Beach in the 10K run, 5K run/walk, and 1-mile Kids’ Gobble Wobble. Runners can also opt for the 10K and 5K double, which start 2.5 hours apart. Afterward, grab your finisher’s medal and some brew at the post-race beer garden. A two-day health and wellness expo and costume contest round out the festivities. 

Photo: Dana Point Turkey Trot

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