The Watertown Family YMCA’s 5K run has become as much of a Thanksgiving tradition as turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.

In its 38th year, between 500 and 900 people are expected to participate in this year’s Turkey Trot after the pandemic interrupted the event in 2020.

Last year’s event went to an entirely virtual format.

But this year’s will be a return of the traditional Turkey Trot, said April Anne Young, senior director, resource development and marketing.

The event is a great way to start off Thanksgiving Day. After the run, participants can enjoy the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, watch a lot of football and then have that big meal of turkey and dressing with all the fixings.

“It’s a good way to work up an appetite,” she said.

While the Turkey Run does raise dollars to support the Gateway Financial Assistance Program for families, the Y’s goal is “to bring the community together for fun and fellowship on a day when we are all expressing gratitude for the good in our lives,” she said.

Mark Taylor, principal at the Case Middle School, says that’s why he does it. He’s run in the Thanksgiving Day event for more than 30 years. He got involved in the event when he was a young physical education teacher “for health and wellness,” he said, adding that he liked doing the Turkey Trot, the Shamrock Run and other 5K runs.

But the Turkey Trot is now as much of a social event for him. It gives him the chance to see old friends, to catch up what’s going on in their lives. They can chat it up before and after the race, he said.

“It’s Facebook for those who don’t have Facebook,” he said, stressing he doesn’t use social media to contact his friends.

The 2021 Turkey Trot is going back to the basics.

The 5K course again starts at The Church of Latter Day Saints on Ives Street, with the route laid out like it has always been. Like in previous years, people can run or walk it.

“It’s really whatever they’re in for,” Ms. Young said.

In past years, participants have completed the event in 70-degree and sunny weather or when it was 20 degrees and snowy.

The 5K run is timed. Participants can also run or walk in the 2.2K event.

“It’s really a fun event,” Ms. Young said. “You decide.”

The first 500 participants to sign up are guaranteed to get a T-shirt. After that, “it’s first come, first served,” Ms. Young said.

Online registration for the run ends at 9 p.m. Nov. 21.

Runners can pick up their race packets at the Fairgrounds YMCA on Coffeen Street from noon to 6 p.m. Nov. 23 and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 24.

On race day, the last call registration and packet pick up goes from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. The race starts at 9 a.m. The results are announced inside the church at 10 a.m.

Entrants to the race costs $30 for members and $35 for nonmembers for a 5K T-shirt with a timing chip. The 2.2K walk-run T-shirt costs $25 for members and $30 for nonmembers. The no-frills packet (for no shirt or chip) is $10.

The Y also is in need of volunteers to help out for the event. More than 40 volunteers are needed to give out packets, to help out on the day of the race and along the route.

The 2020 Covid version of the Turkey Trot was nothing like years past.

With Covid, runners didn’t have to complete the event on Thanksgiving last year. They had from Nov. 25-29 to do the race and submit their information to the Y. Participants uploaded their time on the registration page to compete with other racers. People posted a picture and tag the Watertown YMCA Facebook page after their race was completed.

But that was last year. If you ran the Turkey Trot in the past, expect the same traditions as before this year, Ms. Young said.

Just like turkey, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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