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Thousands of Turkey Trotters are expected to gather at Tallahassee's Southwood Thanksgiving Day morning

Previous Turkey Trot winners proudly display their medals.
Tallahassee Turkey Trot/used with permission
Previous Turkey Trot winners proudly display their medals.

Tallahassee's largest foot race will once again step off Thanksgiving morning this year. The yearly "Turkey Trot" has been happening since 1976.
For most of those years, the race-directing and life team of David and Mary Jean Yon have been in charge of the Gulf Winds Track Club-sponsored race. David Yon said, even as COVID cautions impacted so many events last year, Turkey Trot participation remained surprisingly high.

"It turned out we had over 4,300 people registered for the race. And then just under 4,000 people finished. We were pretty happy with that, though it's not where we were. We're hoping to do better this year."

The pre-pandemic race of 2019 attracted a record 6,000 people. And co-director Mary Jean Yon said this year's event will more closely resemble Turkey Trot's glory years.

"The finisher medals are back! And we know that things like that are so important to people. We're trying to get ourselves totally back to normal. We're very encouraged and excited that the Florida/FSU game is the very next day in Tallahassee, so we think that will help boost attendance."


"Whether we know it or not, a lot of people in this town say, 'If you're going to stay with me at Thanksgiving, you're going to run Turkey Trot.' So we're betting on that."

She said there are actually 4 Turkey Trots. Starting with the one-mile and 5K courses.

"All ages, all paces, all times. Some people walk the whole thing, some people run really fast. Some people do run-walks. And then we have the 10K if you want to run a little more. And then what we consider the signature event because that's the one that's followed us through history on this race is the 15K."

All 4 take place in Southwood Thanksgiving morning starting at 8:30. But there is also an important run-up event to the races as David Yon explained.

"The Turkey Trot Festival that occurs at Goodwood and that's the place to pick up your shirt and race number. We'll have music and a bit of liquid to drink with the sponsors and vendors, too. And it's a good way to spend a Sunday (Nov. 20) afternoon saying hello to people and having a good time."

But Mary Jean Yon said a good time is just part of the purpose underpinning the annual happening. It's also a major fund raiser for a number of the area's worthy causes.

"For the race we have the Boys and Girls Club of the Big Bend, we've got the Refuge House and we've got the Kearney Center, which has been with for almost...

(David) "Before it was the Kearney Center."

(Mary Jean) "Yeah, back when it was The Shelter."

Those who'd like to do some pre-emptive calorie control before the big feast, can check out the Tallahassee Turkey Trot website or Facebook page for more information about the various races.

Follow @flanigan_tom

Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

Find complete bio, contact info, and more stories. here.