CHATHAM ─ Before the drumsticks, the gravy, and even the football games comes a true Thanksgiving tradition: the Turkey Trot, which returns to Chatham this Thanksgiving Day.
The event has enlivened Thanksgiving morning for more than a decade, with the 2016 event marking the Turkey Trot's 12th year. As of Nov. 8 more than 1,400 runners have signed up to take part in this year's run, which follows a 3.1-mile course through scenic Chatham, along such streets as Stage Harbor and Champlain Roads.
Event coordinator Linda Redding said what makes the Turkey Trot so popular is that it's inviting to fans of all ages.
“I think it's the fact that it's just a family friendly event,” Redding said. “It's not a timed race where everyone is trying to beat someone else's time. Everybody who comes is so happy and I think they have a good feeling about what they're doing.”
What they're doing, other than running or walking, is making a much-needed and substantial contribution to the Lower Cape Outreach Council through race registration fees, monetary donations, and the donations of food items that benefit eight Lower Cape food pantries sponsored by the council.
“It benefits all of the Lower Cape communities because Lower Cape Outreach uses the money that we give them, and the food goes right into their pantries,” said Redding. “It's feeding a lot of people through the holidays.”
Items of greatest need right now are canned fruit, canned meats and fish (such as tuna, beef stew, and chili), cold cereal, pancake mix, peanut butter and jelly, cooking oil, mayonnaise, and ketchup.
There is one item that race runners and fans are asked not to bring this year, and that's dogs. Because the Turkey Trot is such a popular event, drawing sizable crowds, race organizers are asking people to keep their pets at home for comfort and sanitation purposes. While there may be some who are disappointed by the new rule, Redding appreciates that the crowds reflect how well-loved the event is.
“We never thought it would be more than 200 people and last year we had more than 2,700 people,” she said.
The race kicks off at 8 a.m. in the parking lot behind the Chatham Orpheum Theater, at the corner of Main Street and Stage Harbor Road, with registration beginning at 7 a.m. for those not yet signed up. Entry fees for those age 13 and up are $20 and a bag of non-perishable grocery items. For participants aged 12 and under the fee is $5 and two non-perishable grocery items. Parking is available behind the Orpheum, at the Chatham Community Center, at Oyster Pond, and along Main Street. For more information visit chathamturkeytrot.com.