Thanksgiving dinner won’t be the only tradition on Thursday to fall victim to recommended reductions to preserve public health.
The Johnson City Turkey Trot, now in its 15th year, will be a virtual event this year instead of a thousands-strong road race.
Johnson City Mayor Jenny Brock, an organizer and founder of the 5K, said the Up & At ‘Em Committee believed it was too difficult to ensure a safe in-person race with ongoing community spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
“We’re sad about it,” Brock said. “We had so many people who promised they would wear masks or do anything for safety, but we just can’t do that with that size of a gathering.”
More than 4,400 people ran last year’s Turkey Trot, a huge gain from the 700 who ran it in its first year.
For the virtual event, Brock encouraged families who live in the same household to run or walk together. Trotters may traverse the required distance on any day until Nov. 30 and send their results to virtual race manager The Goose Chase.
The Trot’s website, jcturkeytrot.com, offers downloadable maps for potential courses across the city plotted by organizers, but any five-kilometer stretch will do.
Participants are encouraged to take photos during their runs and send them to email@example.com or post them on social media with the hashtags #cantstopthetrot or #jcturkeytrot.
Registration is still open, and information can be found on the Turkey Trot’s website.
Brock said she plans to do the full regular course of the race on Thanksgiving morning for the first time. Her hosting and organizing duties have kept her for running past races.
She and the other organizers hope the photos and posts will help maintain the race’s sense of community, even if members of the community can’t gather together.
“The pragmatist in me says we have to do it this way, but I’ve got an emotional connection, and I’m really sad, because this is one of those things that brings people together every year,” she said. “It’s such a wonderful celebration of thankfulness.”
With so many residents isolated by the ongoing precautions against COVID-19, the mayor urged parents to get outside with their children, a proven boost for mental and physical health.
“It’s up to us as adults to help our children who are suffering from being isolated,” she said. “That’s what I feel our role is in all this. We need to create a trot environment.”