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Turkey Trot Participation Surged Again in 2009

By David Monti
(c) 2009 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

For the second year in a row, participation in American road races on Thanksgiving Day surged, an exclusive Race Results Weekly analysis found.

Total finishers for a dozen of the largest "turkey trots" across the country grew by 22%, or 19,858 finishers, from 2008.  The largest gain in the number of finishers was recorded by the Thanksgiving Day 10-K in Cincinnati, Ohio, which grew by 3,970 finishers to 15,506, or 34%.  Participation was undoubtedly up because the race held it's jubilee 100th edition this year.

Moreover, the Cincinnati event was the largest turkey trot which timed all finishers.  The Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services Run to Feed the Hungry in California reportedly had 30,000 entrants, but only timed 9022 finishers.  That event wasn't included in the analysis because the race had timed all finishers last year, making a fair year-to-year comparison impossible.

In percentage terms, the Mile High United Way Turkey Trot in Denver, Colo., enjoyed the biggest growth amongst the races analyzed, exploding by 43% to 7,445.

Thanksgiving Day races are amongst the oldest in the United States.  Only four American road races have been held at least 100 times, according to the Association of Road Racing Statisticians, and three of them are held on Thanksgiving Day.  Besides the Cincinnati race, the Run for the Diamonds in Berwick, Pa., was also held for the 100th time last Thursday, and the Delaware YMCA Turkey Trot 8-K in Buffalo, N.Y., was held for the 114th time.

The Berwick race was not included in the growth analysis because it was too small.  Nonetheless, finisher totals for that event were up 52% from last year to 1985.  A casual survey of other smaller turkey trots showed finisher growth across the board.

Here is a representative sample of a dozen of America's largest turkey trots with year-over-year changes in finishers, presented in descending order of 2009 finishers:

                                                      2008 ->    2009  (% Change)
Thanksgiving Day 10-K (Cincinnati, OH)               11,535 ->  15,506      (+34%)
Fifth Third Bank Turkey Trot^ (Detroit, MI).          9,203 ->  12,463      (+35%)
Manchester Road Race 4.78M, Manchester (CT)          10,426 ->  12,037      (+15%)
Delaware YMCA Turkey Trot 8-K (Buffalo, NY)           9,098 ->  10,932      (+20%)
Atlanta Marathon & Half-Marathon (GA)                 9,427 ->   9,404      (unch)
Dana Point Turkey Trot^ (CA)                          7,198 ->   9,225      (+28%)
Synaptics Elite 5-K/Applied Materials^ (San Jose, CA) 6,356 ->   8,649      (+36%)
Feaster 5-K & 8-K (Andover, MA)                       7,025 ->   7,708      (+10%)
Mile High United Way Turkey Trot 4M (Denver, CO)      5,215 ->   7,445      (+43%)
Capital One Bank Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot 8M (TX)      7,174 ->   6,958       (-3%)
Troy Turkey Trot^ (Troy, NY)                          4,426 ->   5,312      (+20%)
Turkey Trot 8-K (Chicago, IL)                         3,663 ->   4,965      (+36%)
  TOTAL                                             90,746 -> 110,604      (+22%)
^5-K & 10-K finishers combined


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