Thanksgiving Day Races Continue to See Strong Growth

Sport Sees Sixth Straight Year of More Races, More Finishers

Photo Courtesy of Naperville Noon Lions 5K Turkey Trot

A holiday known for feasts, naps and football continues to be defined by running, as Thanksgiving Day maintains its top spot as the sport’s most popular day of the year to race, as a record 961,882 runners crossed a finish line in 2016.

Since tracking began in 2011, turkey trot finisher totals have significantly grown year-over-year. From 2015 to 2016, the number of Thanksgiving Day finishers grew 6%, once again eclipsing the 900,000 finisher barrier and coming ever so close to surpassing the magical one million finisher mark.

“While the sport of running is flattening out in some areas, Thanksgiving is a perfect example of the sport’s ability to bring family and friends together to celebrate through fitness and fun,” said Rich Harshbarger, Running USA CEO. “In many respects, well organized turkey trots are the ideal blueprint for our sport to move forward with locally-run races.”

As the number of finishers grows, so to does the number of events hosted. Year-over-year growth of Thanksgiving Day races grew 14%, with 726 organized races taking place in 2016.

In addition, the general geographic reach of the day continues to show Thanksgiving as a national day of running. Of the top ten largest races, nine states are represented, while nine races hosted more than 7,000 finishers in 2016. The Applied Materials Silicon Valley Turkey Trot, in San Jose, California, once again ranked as the day’s largest race with 12,996 finishers.

Thanksgiving by the Numbers

Number of Finishers

2016 – 961,882 (record high)
2015 – 901,753
2014 – 812,905
2013 – 811,186
2012 – 808,806
2011 – 684,334

Number of Races

2016 – 726 (record high)
2015 – 626
2014 – 591
2013 – 574
2012 – 545
2011 – 490

Top Ten Largest Thanksgiving Day Races (in 2016)

12,996 – Applied Materials Silicon Valley Turkey Trot (San Jose, CA)
12,243 – Delaware YMCA Buffalo Turkey Trot 8K (Buffalo, NY)
12,115 – Cincinnati Thanksgiving Day Race (Cincinnati, OH)
11,225 – Manchester Road Race (Manchester, CT)
10,057 – Detroit Thanksgiving Parade Turkey Trot (Detroit, MI)
8,114 – Mile High United Way Turkey Trot (Denver, CO)
7,315 – ORRRC Turkey Trot 5 Mile (Miamisburg, OH)
7,216 – Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot (Springfield, MO)
7,105 – Naperville Noon Lions 5K Turkey Trot (Naperville, IL)
6,923 – Atlanta Thanksgiving Day Half Marathon (Atlanta, GA)


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