Race founder and avid runner Kathy Kinane described the five-mile and 5K run as “one big hug fest.”
“You see a friend, give them a hug, and run to the next friend or family member,” Kinane said.
More than 3,800 Oceanside residents took part in the race last year. There were also thousands of regional, national and international runners.
The local race has some fun twists. Oceanside residents are judged against each other for finish times. Non-Oceanside residents compete as a separate group.
There is also a costume run in which many racers are inspired to dress as Thanksgiving turkeys or other fun characters.
The scenic race begins at the Civic Center, continues along The Strand and finishes at the Oceanside Pier.
“It’s one of the most beautiful courses in the country without a doubt,” Kinane said.
There is also a one-mile, and quarter-mile kids run.
Kinane said the downhill course often gives elite athletes their best times.
Runners start the race in heats. Groups of 500 begin every two minutes to ensure the course does not get crowded, and everyone has a comfortable run.
“We want to provide a quality experience,” Kinane said. “We focus on it every year.”
This year, runners’ progress can be tracked in real time online. Kinane said this is a great feature for family and friends of out-of-state and international runners. An online notice is sent to loved ones when the runner crosses the finish line.
Kinane said novice runners have told her the Turkey Trot was their first race. Many of them have continued running, and some have gone on to compete in long-distance marathons.
Kinane said the race is about sharing the joy of running, and starting a family Thanksgiving tradition of health and exercise.
She said turkey trots are held all across the country on Thanksgiving Day. Locally, one turkey trot will also be held in Encinitas and two will take place in San Diego.
“Hopefully all cities will have turkey trots,” Kinane said.
The Oceanside Turkey Trot is a fundraiser for dozens of local organizations. Runners select a charity to donate their entry fee toward when they register.
Registration is open through the morning of the race. Kinane said about 40 percent of participants sign up the day of the race. All participants receive a race T-shirt and medal.
It is highly suggested participants carpool or ride the Sprinter or Coaster train to the event.