An event that seems as old as Cape Coral itself is returning for its 34th running on Thanksgiving.
The Turkey Trot 5K run, sponsored by the Fort Myers Track Club, will take place early Thanksgiving morning, hours before the competitors enjoy a holiday dinner.
And it's for a good cause.
The event will start and finish at the Cape Coral Wellness Center on 609 S.E. 13th Court and will make its way around the neighborhoods in the area.
Registration begins at 6 a.m., with the race beginning at 7:30 and the walk a few minutes later. There will also be a one-mile fun run at 8:45, followed by a Tot Trot of 100 yards at 9:15 a.m.
Free T-shirts will go to the first 2,300 entries, which is about as many as last year, according to Tom Murphy, one of the race directors.
If you go
What: 34th annual Turkey Trot
When: Thursday, Nov. 28,
registration starts and 6
a.m.; racing starts at 7:30
Where: Starting at the Cape
Coral Wellness Center,
609 S.E. 13th Court
He said they are on a pace to meet or exceed that number this year.
"We're at just short of 2,000 right now. Last year we did 150 day of and another big day is the day before," Murphy said. "We want to encourage people to sign up early. Having to process 400 people in one morning is not feasible."
The idea to even start a Thanksgiving Day race was laughed off at first when Mike Hamlin and Connie Mack came up with the idea in 1980 as a way to raise funds for a Cape Coral YMCA.
"They did not expect a big turnout. The powers that be thought it was nuts to have a race on Thanksgiving because they didn't think it was draw anybody," Murphy said.
Maybe Hamlin was on to something. Thanksgiving Day is traditionally the biggest running day in the country, Murphy said.
"Every community holds some sort of race before football and before the eating," Murphy said. "It's kind of a justification of overeating."
Entry fees from now until race day are $25 for the 5K run or walk, $15 for those under 17. It is $10 for the fun run and $5 for the tot trot. On race day it is $35 for all entries.
Prizes will be awarded to the top overall winners, male and female, as well as those in numerous age divisions.
In the past, proceeds benefitted the Cape Coral Hospital pediatric emergency room, and last year fulfilled its $100,000 pledge.
Murphy said it started a new $200,000 pledge to the Golisano Children's Hospital Southwest Florida, a new seven-story tower for the children of Southwest Florida.
Half will be pledged from the Turkey Trot, the other half from the Hooters half-marathon in March.
The Fort Myers Track Club is an all-volunteer non-profit organization which puts on several races and fun runs every year. It was founded in 1978 to promote health and fitness through running.
For more information about the race, go to www.ftmyerstrack-club.com