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125th annual Turkey Trot kicks off with a smaller, socially distant crowd of runners

125 runners are running in this smaller 125th annual Turkey Trot
Posted at 10:15 AM, Nov 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-26 10:15:58-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Turkey Trot is a Thanksgiving Tradition known to be the oldest consecutively run footrace in North America. It usually hosts 14,000 participants on Delaware Ave, but this year, the tradition that's is seeing some big changes.

"It's been quite a haul to make sure we're considering everyone's safety...it's been quite a task," said Mario Hicks, Vice President of Association Advancement.

This year, the YMCA Buffalo Niagara randomly selected 125 runners to take part in person in 18 waves of 7 runners, going every five minutes, socially distanced.

The other thousands of runners will join in on the fun virtually from all over the globe.

"We have people who are running in Australia, Belgium, Japan and of course right here in WNY," said Hicks.

Those virtual runners have from Thanksgiving day until Sunday, November 29 to complete their 8k (4.97 mi) run. They can track their progress with the Race Joy app just like they were doing the real thing on Delaware Ave.

Virtual runners can track their progress with RaceJoy
Virtual runners can track their progress with RaceJoy

"This race has survived a pandemic, a second pandemic now, two world wars and we're proud to keep it running for 125 consecutive years," said Geoffrey Falkner, Vice President Strategy & Marketing at YMCA Buffalo Niagara.

But whether they're virtual or in-person, runners each had to raise $1,000 for the YMCA to take part. Money that is very needed in times like this.

"It's incredibly important and needed especially during this time when our Ys are shutdown...it's especially important to keep programs running and this is our biggest fundraiser so it helps us keep that going," said Falkner.

7 Eyewitness news caught up with Bradley Lock of Hamburg, one of the lucky 125 runners participating in person, who says he was ecstatic to be among the select few.

"It's great, when I was growing up I went to places like this...it's great to give back," said Lock.

Runners are encouraged to take photos and post them online with #TurkeyTrot125, especially if you have a fun costume, as the contest is still running this year. However you participate, the YMCA asks that you do it safely.

To learn more about this year's Turkey Trot, click here. If you want to donate, click here.