Thousands of runners, joggers, and walkers crowded the streets of Buffalo Thursday for the annual YMCA Turkey Trot. As the oldest organized footrace in the country, the event is a tradition for Western New York and, especially, friends and families.
Runners gathered along Delaware Avenue in North Buffalo for the 123rd Turkey Trot in athletic gear, costumes, and everything from just a speedo to multiple layers. But amidst the bustle and excitement on a frigid Buffalo day was something very apparent. It’s a race focused less on competition and more on enjoyment. For many this is tradition.
Alyssa Barnum and her family wore matching turkey headbands and festive tutus. She started running with her father Shawn when she was just 10 years old.
“I’ve done it for four years now,” said Barnum. “I think it’s so fun to see everybody in costumes and to be able to run with family. And then you get to go home and eat whatever you want.”
Air Force and Army Veteran Kate Urtz of Buffalo was gearing up to run the Trot for the first time. She was joined by friend and Navy veteran Lori Mroz – both wore turkey costumes.
“I got coerced into doing it from the other turkey,” Urtz said with a laugh as she pointed at Mroz.
Mroz has been running the Trot for a decade, since she got out of the service. The same thing brings her back year after year.
“The crowds, the fun – it gets you in the holiday spirit,” said Mroz. “And you earn your turkey and your beer.”
By 9 a.m., thousands were packed in before the starting line. And just minutes after the hour, the race was underway.
About five miles later, the finish line was a party in the streets of downtown Buffalo.
25 year old Chad Maloy of Boston, New York was 2018’s first-place runner. Maloy came in with a time of 23:40, just 27 seconds shy of the Turkey Trot record set in 1989.
Alexandra Cadicamo of New York City was the first female to cross the finish line at 27:57. She placed 41st overall.
Not far behind them was a slightly out of breath Nick Orlowski of Lancaster. He’s part of a local running club and a repeat-trotter who runs with friends.
“It’s really uplifting. A couple thousand people – that’s the excitement of it,” said Orlowski.
David Michaud said as relatives come in from all around the country for Thanksgiving, he starts his day at the Turkey Trot. It’s his family’s long-time tradition, and Michaud’s young nephew Owen Michaud joined in for the second year in a row.
“It’s great to be running with him and it’s just a good time to be outside,” said Owen.
“It also helps that Owen’s beat me the two times that he’s run,” said David.
Owen came in at 38:49.
“I was a second behind him. I’ll get him next year,” said David.