The Coast News Group
People of all ages joined in the fourth annual Encinitas Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day. Race founder Steve Lebherz said nearly $15,000 would be donated to charities and other programs. Photo by Angela McLaughlin

Getting Thanksgiving off to running start

ENCINITAS — Thanksgiving often brings to mind massive amounts of food and time spent with family — holiday practices that have existed for generations. However, many families are making new traditions, ones that involve getting out and moving.

Prior to sitting down for a big meal, people in cities around the country participated in annual turkey trots on Thanksgiving morning.

“Over one million people participate in turkey trots each year,” says Encinitas Turkey Trot founder Steve Lebherz, adding that it has become the largest run/walk day in America. “Families continue to look for ways to get a little healthier each year.”

This year marked the fourth year of the Encinitas Turkey Trot, which offers both 5K and 10K runs. Starting and finishing under the famous “Encinitas” sign on Coast Highway 101, it has become a tradition for many families, such as the Hubbards, who live in town.

“It’s our turkey tradition,” said Ron Hubbard, who ran the 5K with his family, bedecked in appropriate Thanksgiving-themed attire. 

From professional athletes to novice runners to people who just want to dress up and join in the fun, the Turkey Trot attracted people of all skill levels — and all ages. Parents ran alongside their children and with infants in strollers, making for a true family outing.

The event supports the Encinitas Community Resource Center and Thanksgiving Meals in a Basket Program, sponsored by Encinitas American Legion Post #416. This year, a grant will be provided to Boy Scout Troop #776 of St. John the Evangelist Church in Encinitas, La Costa Canyon High School theater club and the Cardiff School District for their support of the event.

“This year, we will donate nearly $15,000 to local charities, school programs and meals for active duty military families,” Lebherz, who said he enjoys working with the wonderful community and giving partners, added.

No longer just a day to give thanks, Thanksgiving has become an opportunity to give to local causes while participating in a fun and healthy event.