Turkey Trot returns bigger than ever
November 19, 2013
By David Hayes
Heather Matthews always felt there should be more activities available on Thanksgiving Day than the annual family-generated Turkey Bowl of tackle football.
So, she ran, not walked, to participate in a Turkey Trot event in Seattle. After two years of that, the online marketer decided her hometown of Issaquah needed something similar.
“I believe after seeing the Seattle Turkey Trot grow and grow, people really were looking for more than football and eating on Thanksgiving,” Matthews said.
So, she organized a 5K Turkey Trot here in 2010, pledging all proceeds to the Issaquah Food & Clothing Bank.
Matthews discovered she was not alone in her desire for physical activity on Thanksgiving while performing a good deed for the food bank. Not knowing how many would show up, Matthews said the initial outing netted more than $4,600 from just 250 runners. Those numbers grew to more than $8,000 from 600 runners in 2011 and last year topped a whopping $27,000 and 1,500 runners.
This year, Matthews is hoping to draw 2,500 participants and raise $35,000.
As the event has gotten more popular, Matthews said it has also gotten more colorful, with runners getting in the spirit with costumes.
“I love it,” she said. “I’ve seen people in pilgrim outfits, turkeys and even Angry Birds. It really makes for a fun atmosphere. One guy, who finished number three or four, was dressed head to toe in a turkey costume. You can’t help but laugh to see that as he crossed the finish line.”
To entice younger participants, the Gobble Wobble event returns. Youths through age 11 get a punch card. Throughout the route are locations with balloons for them to get their cards punched. Those who cross the finish line with a fully punched card receive a goody bag of trinkets and toys, Matthews said.
“It helps keep them motivated,” she added.
Matthews said she was initially shocked to learn the food bank didn’t have a major fundraiser. Last year, when she turned over the check for $27,000 to the food bank, it was Executive Director Cori Walters’ turn to be shocked. The Issaquah Turkey Trot has become one of the food bank’s biggest fundraisers of the year.
Walters said while most donations come in from grocery stores and the community in general, gaps remain in clients’ needs. That’s where the big infusion of cash from the Turkey Trot comes in handy.
“We buy milk and tuna and anything else that are essential needs they have,” Walters said.
She added that just the other day she needed to purchase socks and wool hats and gloves that some of her clients needed.
Walters said each year they are surprised at the food bank by the number of people who participate in the Turkey Trot, helping to raise much needed funds.
“It’s just such a fun event, even if you don’t realize it’s for the food bank,” Walters said. “It’s just a really fun thing for families to do on Thanksgiving.”
If you go
4th annual Issaquah Turkey Trot 5K
Start times: runners 9 a.m., joggers 9:02 a.m., walkers 9:05 a.m.
Starting line is at the City of Issaquah Northwest Building, 1775 12th Ave. N.W.
Registration is $25 for ages 11 and older; $7 for children 10 and younger.
Register by the 11 a.m. Nov. 26 deadline at www.issaquahturkeytrot.org/register.html.
The following streets will be closed for the event:
- 10th Avenue Northwest before the Costco warehouse and Pickering Barn parking lots.
- Lake Drive from the Costco gas station exit through 10th Avenue Northwest.
- 12th Avenue Northwest after the back entrance to Holiday Inn.
- Vehicles can go straight through the 11th Avenue Northwest intersection, but cannot turn left or right.