Turkey Trot tradition is an exercise in family time

Turkey Trot tradition is about more than just exercise on Thanksgiving Day. Illustration by Grace Everett | Photo Editor

By Avery Ballmann | Staff Writer

The Turkey Trot, a national fun run, has dominated Thanksgiving mornings for decades. As people stretch and ruffle their feathers before they bolt across the starting line, they cherish exercise and time with family.

Dripping Springs sophomore Madison Marotz started the Turkey Trot tradition with her mom in 2019, as both enjoy working out. Marotz wore a bright red ruffled tutu and ran with her dog and a stuffed turkey, while her mom wore running clothes. Meanwhile, her brother watched from the sidelines.

“It was kind of crazy, because we had to wake up at 4 in the morning to be there by 6 when it started, but it was a lot of fun,” Marotz said.

After their race, Marotz, her mom and her brother ate breakfast at Whataburger — a new ritual for her family.

“When it was just me and my mom and my brother, we were able to sit down as a family and be able to enjoy a peaceful conversation before the chaotic beauty that is Thanksgiving,” Marotz said.

Centennial, Colo., senior Ryan Renshaw said her family is so large, they created their own Turkey Trot.

Renshaw travels with her family to Fort Morgan, Colo., to run their race and celebrate Thanksgiving with her dad’s side of the family. A total of 40 people, age newborn to 87, show up to Riverside Park to run or walk the park’s loop.

“As people go to college or venture out of Fort Morgan — because that’s where the whole family started — it’s really special that we all get to come back and do all of our Thanksgiving traditions,” Renshaw said.

Renshaw said the park’s longer loop, which is about two to three miles hugging the South Platte River, is for family members who are feeling more motivated. There is also a one-mile loop for less eager participants.

“My family’s very active, and they’re very antsy,” Renshaw said. “So it’s just a good way that we can get our exercise in the morning and still be together.”

After the race, the family heads back to her aunt’s house to hang out before Thanksgiving lunch is served. Renshaw’s grandmother’s husband died recently, so they will not be hosting the Turkey Trot this year and will be having a smaller Thanksgiving in Centennial, Colo.

While the origins of their family tradition differ, both Marotz and Renshaw said the Turkey Trot brings their families together and helps them avoid the stress of the holidays.

“I’m very grateful for those traditions looking back,” Renshaw said. “I definitely took them for granted at the time.”

While Waco’s Turkey Trot has been canceled, the tradition lives on as students participate at home.