Ozark Outdoors

Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot Early Bird registration opens

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Runners gather at the starting line for the 20th Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot.

Runners gather at the starting line for the 20th Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot.

Now that autumn is officially here, Springfield’s favorite Thanksgiving tradition is just around the corner, and early Bird Registration is now open for the 21th Annual Turkey Trot 5K Run/Walk, held Thanksgiving Day, Thursday Nov. 26, 8 a.m. in downtown Springfield.

Turkey Trot is Springfield’s largest timed 5K run/walk of the year and the largest Thanksgiving Day 5K in Missouri, attracting 7,000-9,000 participants a year.

Proceeds from the event benefit the Springfield-Greene County Park Board Scholarship Fund and the Developmental Center of the Ozarks. Turkey Trot also serves as the largest one-day food drive for Ozarks Food Harvest, which collects about 7,000 pounds of food at the event each year.

Turkey Trot is held rain, snow or shine.

Participants may register for one of four race categories, each with staggered start times:

  • Elite: Participants have completed a sanctioned 5K in the last 18 months within at least 24 minutes for females, 21 minutes for males. For safety concerns, no dogs or strollers are allowed.
  • Runner: Participants will run or jog a 5K at a consistent pace without walking breaks. For safety concerns, no dogs or strollers are allowed.
  • Walker/Family: Ideal for groups, families with strollers or small children, or anyone wishing to walk all or part of the route. For safety concerns, no dogs are allowed.
  • Pet: Participants running, jogging or walking with dogs. Strollers and groups are also allowed in this category. Dogs must be on a leash. Please pick up after your dog. Pet Category starts last.

No matter which race category, participants’ individual race times begin when they cross the starting line and end at the finish line.

Early Bird registration, available now through Friday, Nov. 20, is $20 for adults, $15 for kids 12 and under. Registration includes a long-sleeve T-shirt and a race bib with timing device.

Anne-Mary McGrath honors two of the original volunteers at the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot, after the 20th anniversary of the  5K timed event. Gene Molnar, left, and Monty Montgomery, have been involved in the race every year. It is now the largest timed event in Missouri, drawing 7,000-9,000 runners and walkers each year.

Anne-Mary McGrath honors Gene Molnar, left, and Monty Montgomery, two of the original volunteers who organized the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot Run/Walk, after the 20th anniversary of the 5K timed event. Both men have been involved in the race every year. It is now the largest timed event in Missouri, drawing 7,000-9,000 runners and walkers each year.Turkey Trot grew out of an idea that arose during Springfield’s Vision 20/20 long-range planning process.

Register online or print a registration form at parkboard.org. A $3.25 service charge will be added to each online registration. Printed and mailed or hand-delivered registrations have no service charge. Must be postmarked by Nov. 16. Early Bird registration closes at 5 p.m. Nov. 20.

On-site registration and race packet pick-up are open Wednesday, Nov. 25, 8 a.m.- 5:30 p.m., and Race Day, 6-7:15 a.m.

For those who want to train with a group, get back into running or train for their first 5K, the Park Board offers an eight-week “Training for the Trot” class Tuesday evenings through Nov. 17, 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Chesterfield Park. The class is designed for beginning runners, and includes running techniques and local running trails. Registration for Training for the Trot is $45 and includes a class t-shirt as well as registration for the 21th Annual Turkey Trot 5K Run/Walk. Register today at 891-1616.

For more information about Turkey Trot, visit parkboard.org or call the Springfield-Greene County Park Board at 417-837-5817.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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