Somehow the holiday that explicitly celebrates overeating has become the most popular day for running races of the year (July 4th is the second largest). While most will take part in a local race this Thanksgiving, here are ten races that are worth traveling to — and even skipping Grandma's pumpkin pie. Sign up now; these races all sell out fast.
1. Manchester Road Race
Where: Manchester, Connecticut
Distance: 4.748 miles
Why Run It: November 2015 marks the 79th running of this event that's drawn some of the world's fastest runners, thanks to more than $50,000 in prize money. Despite its speedy front line, this race sees a range of runners in the crowd of 15,000, including many who have raced this for decades — awards for longevity go to male and female competitors who have participated 50 or 40 times, respectively.
2. Honolulu Marathon Unique/Hawaii Sports Foundation Turkey Trot
Where: Honolulu, Hawaii
Distance: 10 miles
Why Run It: Designed to help runners training for the Honolulu Marathon (held the second weekend in December), this "unique" 10-miler doesn't award the fastest male and female. Instead, prizes are given to those who predict — and nail — their race times. Before the race, you're handed a wooden tongue depressor stick, on which you write your predicted race time and carry with you as you run. At the finish line, your time is added to your stick … and he/she with the least variation in times wins. Running this Turkey Trot is a win-win-win: You burn off 10 miles worth of calories, get great pace training for whatever's on your race calendar, and you're in Hawaii!
Register: honolulumarathonclinic.org ($7!); or raceday registration ($8)
3. Buffalo Niagara YMCA Turkey Trot
Where: Buffalo, New York
Why Run It: The longest standing consecutive race in the U.S. celebrates its 120th running in 2015, and 14,000 runners will take to the starting line. The race started with six men running 8 kilometers on a dirt road in 1896, and has become a Thanksgiving Day tradition. It's such a tradition, in fact, that one runner (Gus Gressel) ran the race almost 50 times. Runners of all abilities participate, and a costume contest takes place before the 9 a.m. start. The one-way course weaves through Delaware Park.
4. Dana Point Turkey Trot
Where: Dana Point, California
Distances: 5-K, 10-K, Kids' Gobble Wobble
Why Run It: With roughly 10,000 runners each year, this is the sixth largest Turkey Trot in the country. The course winds along coastal Dana Point and the Doheny Harbor for a scenic, SoCal tour, mile by mile. A bonus for northerners: You'll be able to wear shorts on race day, despite the late November date. $3,500 in prize money is up for grabs, as well as age-group medals, but this is a family-friendly event — costumes and all. This race offers active-duty military 50 percent off registration.
5. Pilgrim Trot 5K, Plymouth Turkey Trot, Plymouth Turkey Trot Second Helping Challenge
Where: Plymouth, Massachusetts
Distance: 5-K; 4.77 miles; 7.81 miles
Why Run It: Is there any place better to celebrate Thanksgiving than Plymouth, Massachusetts? Choose from the Pilgrim Trot 5K, the Plymouth Turkey Trot, or go big with the Plymouth Turkey Trot Second Helping Challenge. The 5K is run on the oldest public road in America (Old Sandwich Road) — entirely on dirt. The Plymouth Turkey Trot (4.77 miles) starts and finishes at Plymouth Rock and runs to the Forefathers Monument, passing by the Mayflower replica and other historic sites. For ultimate Turkey Day bragging rights, run the Second Helping Challenge (run both races back-to-back) — the Plymouth Turkey Trot starts at 7:30 a.m., and the 5-K race starts at 10:30 a.m., just six miles away.
Register/More Info: runosrr.wix.com/plymouthrockracing
6. New Orleans Athletic Club Turkey Day Race
Where: New Orleans, Louisiana
Distance: 5 miles; Kids' Half Mile
Why Run It: This race has been going on since 1907, 2015 marking its 108th running. While runners used to start handicapped based on their previous race times, today's runners all start together and finish at Tad Gormley Stadium, named after the man who started it all. Roughly 3,000 runners take to the streets in City Park, some wearing costumes. The race benefits Spina Bifida of Greater New Orleans.
7. Feaster Five Road Race
Where: Andover, Massachusetts
Distance: 5 miles, 5-K, Kids 1-K
Why Run It: As one of the largest races in New England, the Feaster Five draws an average of 10,000 runners each year. In the 5-mile and 5K races, cross the finish line for your long-sleeve T-shirt and an apple pie. Also, every 50th finisher gets a $25 gift certificate. Past participants of the Feaster Five include Joan Benoit Samuelson, Bill Rodgers, and father-son Team Hoyt. In 2015, there's a Friends and Family Competition, awarding the largest groups that run/walk together.
8. Louisville Turkey Trot
Where: Louisville, Colorado
Why Run It: As long as you bring a donation — a canned good or winter clothing — this race is absolutely free. The run winds through the streets and open space of charming Louisville, Colorado, near Boulder and Denver. And yes, this race is at altitude, but if you're home visiting family for the week, you're either used to it or have been at one point in your life. Other friendly perks of this race: strollers and dogs are welcome on the course.
9. Western & Southern Thanksgiving Day 10K Race
Where: Cincinnati, Ohio
Why Run It: This race started with nine men in 1908, and 2015 marks it's 106th running (WWI and a management issue meant a couple years were skipped). Today, 16,000 runners and walkers take to the streets of Cincinnati, many returning year after year as part of their holiday family tradition, making the W&S among the biggest races in the Midwest. The course starts in Cincinnati, then crosses over the Ohio River into Kentucky before returning to the finish — and it’s a fast, fun, downhill finish. Bands, selfie stations, cheerleading squads, and more line the course, and there's a feel-good bonus: the race has become the largest Goodwill coat drive in the country, and kicks off the largest Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign in the U.S.
10. Applied Materials Silicon Valley Turkey Trot
Where: San Jose, California
Distance: 5K Elite Invitational,5K, 10K, 10K Wheelchair and Kids' Fun Runs
Why Run It: This race may only be 11 years old, but it's already raised over $5 million for charity, and it's one of the most competitive Turkey Trots in the country. The invitational race (it's by invite only) dangles a $25,000 prize purse in front of competitors, and a four-loop elite course and separate men's and women's elite waves make this a spectator-friendly speed-fest. The elite races start before the everyman's events, so come early to get inspired to throw down your fastest time. Kids' events of various distances (based on age) and a Kids Zone, bounce house and all, make this a family affair.