Turkey Trot Participation Flat This Year

More runners this year preferred to stay at home and eat turkey.

Written by David Monti
(c) 2010 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

After a 22% surge last year, participation in American Thanksgiving Day races was flat this year, an exclusive Race Results Weekly analysis found. Although three out of four of the 20 well-established “turkey trots” surveyed showed growth in finishers, two large races in Cincinnati and Denver posted big declines, nearly erasing the gains made by the other events.

Total finishers for the 20 races in 15 states grew by just 0.4% or 581 finishers, from 2009. An increase of 9,446 finishers from the 15 races which grew, was mostly offset by a decline of 6,971 from the Thanksgiving Day 10K in Cincinnati, Ohio. (down 4,788) and the Mile High United Way Turkey Trot 4 Mile in Denver (down 2,183). Participation was depressed at the Cincinnati event because the 2009 edition was the 100th jubilee edition of the race which drove up finishers last year, and persistent and heavy rain right up to race time this year. The turnout at the Denver event was at least partially depressed by very cold and windy weather.

The event showing the largest gain in the number of finishers in the survey was reported by the Applied Materials Silicon Valley Turkey Trot in San Jose, Calif., a multi-race festival which featured 5K and 10K races for everyday runners, plus elite 5K races for professionals and top regional athletes. Participation surged 29.4% at that event from 8,849 last year to 11,118 this year. This event also showed the largest percentage gain.

Healthy increases were also reported by the Turkey Day 5K in Charleston, S.C. (up 27.4% to 5,308 finishers), Turkey Trot 8K in Chicago (up 14.4% to 5,679), and the Alexandria PWBA Turkey Trot 5 Mile in Alexandria, Va. (up 19.7% to 3,472 finishers).

The two oldest events in the survey, the 115th Delaware YMCA Turkey Trot 8K in Buffalo, N.Y., and the 74th Manchester Road Race 4.748 Mile in Manchester, Conn., both showed increases. The Buffalo event was up 1% to 11,044 finishers and the Manchester race grew 11.2% to 13,391.

As a group, 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 and Buffalo races, the Run for the Diamonds in Berwick, Pa., was also held for the 101st time.

With just 1566 finishers, it was not included in the survey, but showed a decrease of 419 finishers from last year.

There are over 300 turkey trots in the United States, according to the race registration website Active.com, so the Race Results Weekly survey must be considered only a sample.

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