Thursday, December 01, 2011

Turket Trots Post 14% Growth...So Do Waist Sizes

A survey of the top 20 Turkey Trots held on Thanksgiving last week shows a 14% boost in participation from last year, far exceeding the 1% growth of the previous year. On the day of the year that has more races than any other, some of these are now boasting starting lines over 15,000 runners. Isn't that great?

I have now run the Santa Barbara Thanksgiving 4-Miler for five years in row, doing my best to squeeze in under 24 minutes (and 1000 burned calories) and win a bottle of Martinelli's Sparkling Cider for the kids to drink at the family feast. This race reflects the growth of Turkey Trots, climbing from 300 runners in 2007 to over 700 this year, while retaining it's small town charm. I would like to believe I run it for health reasons, but honestly, I know the motivation is to feel less guilty about the second and third helpings of home cooking that I am so fortunate to indulge in each year.

Once I had done the race a few years in a row, however, my motivation changed. I see the same faces at this race each sunny Thanksgiving morning, and enjoy catching up with them and watching their kids grow. I find myself inspired by the consistency of 76-year-old ultrarunner Bill Dodson, who somehow manages to do this race with his family and still make it to the Quad Dipsea a few days later (and then the CIM marathon the next week, naturally). Or the evolution of the Allison family, whose daughters Kate and Sammie have grown up from spectators (who scarf the post-race donuts) to runners (who scarf the post-race donuts), and soon enough will leave me and their parents in the dust as their youthful jaunts become graceful strides. Brian Wyatt was the proud father of 5-year-old Cassidy taking on his first race, and 12-year-old Chaia who easily made an age group podium finish and still had enough juice to run back a few miles and join the family. This year also saw the subtle transformation of my friend Kik Armstrong, run/walking this year with that confident glow of humility only seen on those who just completed their first 50-miler.

Consistency, change, transformation...all captured in the time-lapse memory of an annual community event. It's a beautiful thing, really. No wonder they are becoming so popular!
(700 runners take over the streets of Goleta, CA)
(Sammie Allison, a spectator no more, with Dad trying to keep up)

(Moms Kik Armstrong and Jamie Allison enjoy watching the kids run ahead)

(Power assisted running)

(Sure, Honey, I'll watch the kids and dog while you cook...and still get in a workout!)

(Bill Dodson and I stand with the other age group winners)

(Sammie is all about the powdered that really the same kid that hung onto Mom in 2007?)

(Ultrarunner Brian Wyatt poses with the newest runner in the family, Cassidy, who crushed his first 4-miler)


  1. The ultra (anything longer than 5K)-turkey trot tradition is alive and well in Salt Lake City. It is purely a show up and run sort of affair, to catch up with friends, and get a few miles on the dirt before a good feast.

  2. Hey Peter does that go on every year? I am a U runner here in SLC and never heard about the 20k you guys put on.

  3. I am just 40 minutes away from SLC, wish I would have just done this!!!! I tried to get a 10 miler "turkey trot" organized out here in my small town...didn't go over well. I will do better next year. SO awesome to see people out and running!

  4. I read your blog just enough to think that I'd seen you at this race... so it looks like it was you! I was "racing" it again for the first time since having my baby daughter and I think I saw you when we had to stop to feed her :) small world.

  5. Funny you run into Bill in Santa Barbara. Good job on the win! In San Jose, the Trot grew from 14 to 21 thousands in one year (50% increase)! And for a great cause which is even better.
    See you on the trails soon!

  6. Sweet website! I discovered it while searching on Yahoo News. Do you have any guidelines on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to have there! Cheers

  7. Hey Scott, was your dad at CIM today? I could have sworn I saw him cheering people on around the 17 mile mark. Thanks for the great reading as always!

  8. Looks like a really fun event. Those kind of community events are some of my favorite to participate in.


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