Above / Turkey Trot participants again will walk, run and waddle along Naperville-Plainfield Road on Thanksgiving Day, beginning this year at 8AM Thurs., Nov. 24. (PN File Photo 2021)
Turkey Trot Report with History Originally Posted in 2021
At 8AM on Thanksgiving morning in 1998, the first Naperville Noon Lions Turkey Trot stepped off. A Lion’s member said his former club in the northeast had been very successful putting on a 5k race on Thanksgiving. Knowing that Naperville has many people running the streets for fitness and has produced many great running teams from the high schools to North Central College, it seemed like it would be a great fit.
The Naperville Noon Lions Foundation got to work. That first race started on Jackson by Centennial Beach. Pre-registration entries were slim for this first race. Sponsors with free entries pleaded with some North Central runners to come out and help fill the field.
Thanksgiving morning broke sunny and 65 degrees. The word had gotten out and with the great weather runners kept showing up to register. With only insurance coverage for 200 runners, paper registration slips, and paying with cash and checks, it was a mad house.
That first Thanksgiving race had 326 finishers, with 147 females and 179 males. Success beyond our expectations.
The race then moved to the North Central Fieldhouse, which offered shelter before and after the run. With the success of the race, the numbers kept growing and the streets by the College were just too narrow. Luckily, Naperville Central High School stepped up and allowed us to use their gym and access to the wider roads near the school.
We learned that yes there are some fast runners who are great to watch, but much of the field is made up of family and friends running or walking for exercise. Many come to run in Thanksgiving-themed costumes. We have also seen turkey hats, a couple as a knife and fork, Pilgrim hats, and “Kiss the Cook” aprons. We have even had Spiderman show up to run our race.
That first year was our warmest weather. One year, a snowstorm the night before left the streets clear, but trees covered. It made for some great pictures.
Another year it was so cold that at the water stop around mile two the water spills left ice patches on the course. Luckily, we had ice melt for this problem.
One year, a 60-year-old runner gave up his number to a friend. She dragged her 20-year-old son and cross-country runner out of bed Thanksgiving morning and pinned on the 60-year-old’s number. That 60-year-old’s number won his age group and received many congratulations of amazement on his fast run from his buddies.
Another year, two guys completed their warmup a bit late. Not knowing the timing starting strip was activated, they thought they could jump over the timing pad. Instead, they just started their race timing chip as minutes rolled by with race instructions. After the race, looking over the results, we noticed these two good runners had very slow times. We thought they did not come to race, but were perhaps pacing a slower friend. We found out later what had happened, and they laughed about their failed attempt to jump the pad.
We hope you will continue your Thanksgiving tradition of running or walking with us this year or lace up your shoes and start a new family tradition.
The Naperville Noon Lions Turkey Trot is now accepting entries for our 25th year. We hope you can join us. Enter at www.napervilleturkeytrot.com.
The race starts at 8AM on Hillside, which is the street behind Naperville Central High School. The race is chipped time, so you do not need to crowd together, as your race time starts as you cross the Start Line, not at the starting gun.
Fast, medium, and slow runners, or walkers should come and start your Thanksgiving with us. We have Finisher Ribbons for all the kids.
We know of two people who have been doing the race since its start. We would love to hear of any others who can match their streaks.
Thank you for your support of the Naperville Noon Lions Turkey Trot.
If you are interested in joining the Lions and helping others. visit www.napervillenoonlions.org.
History submitted by Naperville Noon Lions Club, the service club that meets the first four Tuesdays of each month at noon, at Aurellio’s Pizza, 1975 Springbrook Square Drive.