Count them on, but you won’t be counting them off. You will likely consume 2,500-4,500 calories at your Thanksgiving meal. You'd have to run a marathon to burn that off. Good luck! The longest Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot you can find now is a half-marathon in Atlanta.

A morning foot race has become as much a part of the holiday tradition as the turkey itself, a rare chance to race, run or walk with friends and family up and down the generations. More Americans participate in an organized running event on Thanksgiving Day than on any other day of the year, according to our back-of-an-envelope calculation.

We count more than 1,000 Turkey Trots across the U.S., typically 5Ks or 5-milers, and ranging from the seriously competitive to serious fun. You can find one near you here.

Some of these have been trotted for more than century. The Buffalo YMCA Turkey Trot started in 1896 and claims to be the oldest continuously run public footrace in the U.S.

There are many, many small local events. Fields can number a few hundred or even a few dozen. We like the Montauk Turkey Trot held on the eastern tip of Long Island, N.Y. for that reason. As at many small Turkey Trots, winners get frozen turkeys instead of medals. The local joke is that the turkeys arrive fresh, but the cold Atlantic winds soon take care of that. Tradition dictates the prizes are immediately donated to a local seniors home. The same community experience is found at hundreds of such small Thanksgiving Day runs across America.

The Texas-sized Dallas Turkey Trot is at the other end of the scale. It is expecting more than 40,000 participants this year, making it one of the five largest running events in America at any time of the year, and sufficient to put it in the top 25 in the world. In 2011, the event set a record for the largest gathering of people dressed as turkeys. Six hundred and sixty-one, since you asked, according to the Guinness Book of Records.

Costumes are a big part of Thanksgiving races, and can win you prizes at many events. As well as turkeys, there will be plenty of male runners dressed in black breeches, black top with a square white collar and cuffs, wide buckled belt and black steeple hat—even though the first Pilgrims are now thought not to have dressed like that, or at least not until it became high formal wear in Boston from the mid-17th century onwards.

Don't let a little historical inaccuracy put you off. Pilgrims didn’t wear Nikes or any other modern shoe brand either, though you likely will be dressed as a pilgrim, turkey, Native American or just recycling your Halloween costume. Runners are naturally frugal folk, right?

The main aim of Turkey Trots is to run with family, friends and neighbors, and to start off a day of indulgence by combining exercise with good works for local charities. Some communities hold their Turkey Trot the weekend before Thanksgiving so that the money or food raised can get to its intended recipients on the day itself.

One of the biggest charitable events is the Run To Feed the Hungry, held in Sacramento, Calif. since the 1990s and organized by the city’s Family Services department. Tens of thousands of runners turn out to support the Sacramento Food Bank to which all proceeds from the race go.

South along the California coast, the Silicon Valley Turkey Trot in San Jose, is another large-scale race that supports a food bank. It has donated $4 million to the Second Harvest Food Bank and other local charities over its 10-year history. If you can't make the race in person, you can still run (and donate) remotely.

Fast Before the Feast, a 10K, 5K and fun run at White Bear Lake, Minn., goes for weight. This year it is aiming to donate 10,000 pounds of food -- that is five tons -- to stock the shelves of local food banks.

We have picked 10 of the most iconic, offbeat and challenging Turkey Trots, which you can see in the accompanying slide show. As well as the longest, shortest, largest and most historic, they include one where the first across the line rarely wins and one with real turkeys.

Running: Best U.S. Turkey Trots


The Largest: Dallas Turkey Trot

More than 40,000 are expected for this year’s races, an 8-miler and a 5K fun run/walk. The unusual distance came about because at the first race in 1968 the 107 participants were told to run along the shores of White Rock Lake "to the big oak tree and back." Turned out that was 8 miles. In 2011, the race set a record for the largest gathering of people dressed as turkeys, according to the Guinness Book of Records.


Best Bling: Run For The Diamonds, (Berwick, Pa.)

Forget running for the T-shirt. There are diamond rings for the first seven men home and diamond pendants for the first seven women. This centurion among Thanksgiving Day races is a throwback to hard-scrabble races of yore. This year's will be the 105th running of the challenging 9-mile course, famous for its lung-busting Summit Hill and weather as rugged as the course.


Most American: Feaster Five Road Race (Andover, Mass.)

Apple pie awaits the runners at he finish line of this 5-miler near Boston; the first 9,000 home get a whole pie. There is also a 5K and a kid’s run at what bills itself as New England’s largest and most festive Thanksgiving Day running event. The race, started in 1987, has attracted local stars over the years. Distance running legends Bill Rodgers and Joan Benoit Samuelson have run, as has actor Matt Damon and family.


Most Calorie-Consuming (aka The Longest) Atlanta Half Marathon and Thanksgiving Day 5K

This used to be a full 26.2 miler before the now defunct Atlanta Marathon moved to earlier in the fall. It is now one of the largest half-marathons in the U.S., attracting thousands of runners looking to share the holiday spirit and to burn off four-figures of calories.


Oldest: Buffalo YMCA Turkey Trot

This year's running will be the 119th and attract of field of up to 14,000. This 5-miler, founded by the local YMCA in 1896, is the oldest Thanksgiving Day race and claims to be the oldest continuously run public footrace in the U.S.


Most Scenic: Honolulu Marathon Clinic Turkey Trot

A beautiful 10-miler through Kapiolani Park with Diamond Head to one side and the Pacific Ocean to the other, although the exact course isn’t revealed until the day. Another quirk; Prizes don't go the fastest, but to those who are closest to their own pre-race-predicted times. Practicing running at goal pace for the first ten mile of a marathon is what makes this Turkey Trot a clinic.


Best For Turkeys: The Great Gobbler Gallop (Cuero, Texas)

This was once a real Turkey Trot, tens of thousands of turkeys being driven through the streets of Cuero at Thanksgiving. Now it is part of the town's October Turkeyfest, reduced to two champion turkeys representing Cuero and Worthington, Minn., racing two blocks to settle which is America’s 'Turkey Capital of the World,' -- at least for the following 12 months. A human Turkey Trot 5K is a mere sideshow.

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For the complete list of the 10 Best U.S. Turkey Trots, go to

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