Trotting on Thanksgiving in Chicago

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While perhaps not going back as far as the Pilgrims, the Thanksgiving Day turkey trot has become a cherished tradition for many runners. It's easy to understand why: On a day full of indulgences, it's a great way to start out by burning at least a few hundred calories, while having some fun and giving back to the community.

There are hundreds of turkey trots across the country on Thanksgiving Day and dozens of races to choose from in the Chicago area, and several have grown into major events in their communities. Here are some of the best in the area to get that morning workout before the big feast.

1. Turkey Day 5K and 8K
Nov. 27, Lincoln Park, Chicago

Life Time Fitness took over this family-friendly Lincoln Park race and renamed it a few years ago, but this will actually be the 38th running of this Chicago staple. Now you can choose from a 5K or 8K course (there's a kids'  race, too) along the lakefront, and the event includes a “Turkey Tailgate Zone,” with turkey bowling, a football throw, beanbags, and a kids activities tent. The race benefits the Chicago Food Depository, and all runners will receive a long-sleeve technical T-shirt. Costumes are encouraged, and the 9 a.m. start time (9:30 a.m. for the 5K) also makes the event a bit more friendly for those who may have indulged in that other Chicago Thanksgiving tradition of bar hopping the Wednesday night prior.

2. North Shore Turkey Trot
Nov. 27, Highland Park, Ill.

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This race, organized by RAM Racing, starts and finishes in downtown Highland Park and features both 5K and 10K distances. It’s grown into a big event, with more than 3,500 runners participating last year. RAM is known for its premium giveaways, and this year is no different, with runners receiving fleece hoodies emblazoned with turkeys. The race benefits Black Diamond charities, which supports returning veterans transition to civilian life.

3. Naperville Noon Lions Turkey Trot
Nov. 27, Naperville, Ill.

Organized by the Naperville Noon Lions, this race typically reaches its capacity of 7,500 runners, so register ASAP if you want to take part in one of the largest turkey trots in the state. The 5K race starts and finishes at Naperville Central High School and features a neighborhood course with a couple of rolling hills. It’s very family friendly, and all runners receive long-sleeve performance T-shirts. After the race, enjoy a pancake breakfast in the high school cafeteria. The race draw all types of runners, with the guys from North Central College’s cross-country team often setting a fast pace, but plenty of participants dressed in costume or walking the course following.

4. Rotary Run 3.14 Pie Run
Nov. 27, LaGrange, Ill.

Be one of the first 2,000 people to enter the Rotary Run 3.14 Pie Run, and you'll leave with dessert -- a Sara Lee pie, the perfect addition to the  Thanksgiving feast. The run itself starts and finishes at Lyons Township High School in LaGrange and features a route along the tree-lined streets of the village. All adults receive a technical T-shirt, and the race benefits the Rotary Club of LaGrange.

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