The Columbus Turkey Trot is a tradition for many friend groups and families. Despite growing up in Columbus and running for over 10 years, I’d never done it. So, when a friend and old cross country teammate asked if I’d be up for it, I said I was in.
If you’re wondering what the race experience is like, here’s my recap!
Registration was $45 for both the 5-miler and 2.6-miler. After RunSignup fees, it was $49.25. It was definitely on the pricier side, but the race was benefitting Easterseals, an organization dedicated to supporting people with all types of disabilities and their families.
You also got more swag than your average race, which I’ll get into later.
You could pick up your race packet at several locations the week before and of the race. I ended up going to The Shops On Lane Avenue, where the race would start. It was a little confusing to find the packet pickup location since there are a lot of shops, but it ended up being in the building that’s labeled “The Shops On Lane Avenue” between White House Black Market and Hallmark.
It was hard to find parking since it was Sunday midday (this was the only day you could pick up your packet at this location; all the other locations had several days). But once I got in, I didn’t have to wait long to get my bib.
Getting to the Race
You definitely want to plan to arrive at least 30 minutes in advance. We had a lot of trouble finding parking, as did a ton of others.
The race organizers told people to park at The Shops On Lane Avenue, but there was no way to get to the shops since the roads were closed. We were directed to go down Kenny Road, and we tried getting back onto W Lane Ave through the OSU farm/agricultural area (officially called the Waterman Agriculture and Natural Resources Laboratory Complex in case you need to map it). But that was also closed.
Some people ended up parking there, but it’s still half a mile from the race start. We ended up going down Kenny Road and around into the nearby residential area. We parked on Wellesley Drive and saw a bunch of other runners parking in the neighborhood. From there, it was a quick walk to the start line.
The course was an out-and-back that started at The Shops On Lane Ave. There were port-a-potties in the back of the shops, but none on the course.
I was surprised at how many people there were at the start line. It was pretty crowded! The results show around 1600 participants, not including those doing the untimed 2.6-miler. It made for some great energy though, and I loved seeing the festive costumes and hats.
The 5-miler took place mostly on OSU campus on Woody Hayes Drive. It’s not the most scenic or interesting, but it’s fairly flat, and there’s decent space to run your pace despite the large group of participants. You do get to pass by the Ohio Stadium, and many people stopped to snap a photo there.
One thing to know is that the course is slightly downhill for the first half and then uphill for the way back. There’s a total of 163ft of elevation gain, so it’s not too bad, but you may notice the incline coming back.
If you’re doing the 2.6-mile walk, it splits off early on from the 5-miler at the end of W Lane Avenue, about half a mile in.
There’s basically no spectator support since it’s Thanksgiving morning, but the large crowd runners themselves gave off good energy, and many people do this with family or friends anyways.
There’s one aid station at around the 2-mile mark with water cups and maybe Gatorade. I don’t remember since I didn’t end up using it. Since it’s an out-and-back, you’ll also have access to hydration around the 3-mile mark.
The food at the end of the race was water bottles, bananas, and granola bars.
All finishers got a medal, long-sleeve tech quarter-zip, and a pumpkin pie. You could opt out of the quarter-zip, but there was no discount or donation to charity. I’d love to see that as a perk in the future. I ended up opting out of the shirt since I have too many race shirts. If you want to know what it looked like, see the first photo in this post where my friend on the right was wearing it.
If you don’t like pumpkin pie, there was a place to donate it to local food pantries, which was a thoughtful touch. It would also be nice to see a vegan pie option. My diet’s been a bit more flexible this year because of health problems, but for those who are strictly plant-based, I’m sure they’d like to have a pie too.
I hadn’t done a race since the spring due to health problems. I’d even taken about a 3-month break from running, which is the longest I hadn’t run regularly, and had only been “back” to more typical mileage for a few weeks (though I’d started running again 3 months before).
I came to this race with two old cross country teammates, and we were just there to have fun, so we ran this at a steady state/recovery pace (about 10 min/mile).
It was lovely to catch up with them and to be back in a race environment with great energy. I sometimes take running too seriously and want to try to do more races just for the fun of it!
Overall, I can see why the Turkey Trot is a popular Thanksgiving day tradition—the atmosphere is upbeat, the swag is generous for the registration fee, and the course is fairly easy. Let us know in the comments what you thought of it if you did it too!