PARKERSBURG - Runners of all ages and abilities will gather Thanksgiving morning at City Park for the 34th running of the Turkey Trot.
Sharon Marks, president of the River City Runners and Walkers Club, said the three-mile trot for runners and walkers is sponsored by Camden Clark Medical Center, On The Run and Walk and the River City Runners and Walkers Club.
Joe Corra, race coordinator, said as of Tuesday they had 2,200 signed up for the race. He said those who still want to be part of the race can sign up today at On The Run at 2903 Emerson Ave. or sign up on race day from 7 to 8:45 a.m.
The Turkey Trot was started in 1979 by the same group that two years later was the founding members of the River City Runners Club, Corra said.
"This is the largest three-mile race (in the state) and we expect 3,000 to enter this year," he said. "It has been the largest race of any kind in the state; we start in September taking entries on the web page and send out mailings to people who have run before. We mailed out 6,800 applications."
Marks said the weather is a factor that determines how many late signups they get at the park each year.
Another feature of the Turkey Trot is the number of families or groups entering for a morning of fun.
"We had a bunch of them," Corra said. "It was impressive, pretty good. Most of the early registrations were from groups."
Last Thursday was the cutoff for groups to receive a discount.
Corra said the race attracts a few who, in addition to running, arrive for the race in costume.
"There is a gang from Ritchie County who come with original costumes," he said. "They are good runners; one girl in the group is a top five finisher. Last year they were zombies and past years they've been pirates and Batman and Robin; they've done it all."
Corra said they never give any hints of what they will wear so it is always a surprise. Corra added most of the runners do not wear more than the typical running gear.
For many they are out early on Thanksgiving morning to socialize.
At the front are the most serious runners.
"Most in the front are good runners and they are used to winning races," he said. " There isn't anybody who doesn't win from the front group."
The men in that group run the race in the 15-minute range while the top women run the race in the 18-minute range, Corra said.
A dressed turkey will be awarded to the first male and female to cross the finish line. After the race, a drawing will be held for 50 free turkeys and prizes, organizers said.