After 35 years of kicking off the Alexandria Turkey Trot at the north end of Del Ray, a move to the south end proved vital in accommodating the largest crowd in the history of the race.
More than 4,000 runners took to the streets Thursday for the 36th installment of what’s billed as the area’s premier Thanksgiving Day race. For the first time ever, the race kicked off and finished at George Washington Middle School.
In the past, the race was stationed at Cora Kelly Recreation Center. The growing size of the race field prompted organizers to make a switch in location and to alter the 5-mile course through the neighborhood.
“This has been a huge difference,” said Jill Erber, race chair with the Del Ray Business Association, which organizes the race along with the DC Road Runners. “The crowd just kept getting bigger for the race, and we needed more size.”
DC Road Runners President Brian Danza said the middle school gym offered twice as much floor space as Cora Kelly for runners to register and pickup their race packets. The new location also offered more bathrooms, a larger staging area and a wider start and finish to the race. Organizers also hoped the new course would allow faster finishes for runners.
“Cora Kelly served us well for 35 years, but this new space offered us the growth we needed,” Danza said.
Of the biggest improvements was the event’s new Metro accessibility. All morning, runners came streaming across the adjacent playing fields from Braddock Road Metro station, alleviating some of the parking problems that hampered the event in previous years.
Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille was on hand Thursday to welcome runners, as was most of the Alexandria City Council.
Council members Frank Fannon and Rob Krupicka participated in the race, as did Vice Mayor Kerry Donley.
“They closed registration by computer last night because they got just so many,” Euille said. “There’s beautiful weather and the Del Ray Business Association and the DC Road Runners do an excellent job organizing this event.”
A portion of the proceeds from the race will go to ALIVE!, which assists the needs of the less fortunate across Alexandria. Runners were asked to bring nonperishable food items to donate to ALIVE!
“It’s a very worthy cause,” Euille said. “The donations of canned goods and non-perishable food items will help fill food centers in our area.”
Euille said planned to sit back and relax after the race and watch some football with members of his family. Then he planned on eating.
“Of course watching my calories as well,” Euille said.
For many of Thursday’s participants, the race allowed them, thankfully, to forget any calorie counting on a beautiful Turkey Day.
For official race results, click here.
Editor's note: The official total of finishers was close to 4,100. According to the Turkey Trot website, 4,600 people registered for the race. Some changes were made to the article after the official numbers were released.