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Thousands Race in Iowa's Biggest Thanksgiving Day Event


Thursday, November 24, 2022   

While many Iowa families gather through this weekend to celebrate Thanksgiving in traditional ways with food and family, thousands of people take to the streets in Des Moines' 8th Annual Turkey Trot.

Some 5,000 athletes from 38 states and three countries converge on Iowa's capital city on Thanksgiving morning to run in the Turkey Trot.

Michael Zimmerman, director of Rip Roar Events and the Turkey Trot promoter, said Thanksgiving is the busiest running event of the year in the area, based on the number of participants who enter. He explained every year, the event builds camaraderie among family, friends and fellow runners.

"Anytime you put on a running event on a holiday, especially a holiday that has also the highest caloric intake of any day of the year, like Thanksgiving, you bring people down, you do something, you sweat together, you maybe suffer a little bit while you're running," Zimmerman outlined. "And maybe it helps to justify a second helping."

Race organizers have partnered with local charities to collect coats for children on Des Moines' north side and are also working with cancer and youth charities.

The race promoters noted they have faced a unique challenge this year which has nothing to do with a more difficult course or the weather, which last year featured snow flurries and subzero temperatures. This year, Zimmerman pointed out, everyone who finishes the race receives a mug of hot chocolate, and the key word is "hot."

"The biggest challenge that we have had with this year's race is figuring out how to heat 350 gallons of water and mix in hot chocolate to it," Zimmerman stressed. "So, I kid you not, our team is going to be boiling water, 10 gallons at a time on a six-burner stove, and we're going to be mixing in 240 pounds of hot chocolate, and serving it all within 45 minutes."

Every year, the event consists of three options for racers, a 5k course, a 5-mile course, and a shorter event for kids, called the "Tot Trot."

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