Time to register for the 16th annual Pima Turkey Trot

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: Tom Turkey (Stephanie Hoopes) gets the runners ready for the 1-mile Fun Run during the 2020 event. The Fun Run takes place prior to the annual 5K race on Thanksgiving.

Let’s go trottin’!

By Jon Johnson


PIMA – One of the largest local 5K events, the Pima Turkey Trot, is back for its triumphant 16th year. 

Before Thanksgiving revelers fill their bellies, make some room for the tasty fixings by participating in the 16th annual Pima Turkey Trot.

The event takes place on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, Nov. 25, and begins with a 1-mile Fun Run at 8 a.m. at the Pima Vard Lines Memorial Roping Arena, followed by the 5K at 8:45 a.m.

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: A total of 709 signed up for the event and about 558 ran the 5K last year.

The Trot has become a family tradition to numerous people in the Gila Valley and brings in extended family and friends from outside of the area as well. The annual event began in 2006 when race co-directors Melinda Nelson and Cody Marshall thought a 5K on Thanksgiving would be a good way to rationalize eating a feast later in the day. 

Like most events in 2020, the 15th annual Pima Turkey Trot was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but through the perseverance of Marshall and Nelson, a cadre of volunteers, and all those who participated, the annual rite of passage of Thanksgiving went off without a hitch.

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: Cameron Mortensen, of Thatcher, took a couple of passengers with him during his 5K run in 2020.

Under ideal weather conditions but with COVID-19 restrictions, 709 people still signed up for the event this year and about 578 participated in the 5K.  

Indeed, the sun smiled down on last year’s event and gave a small ray of hope in an otherwise dreary year, and those who participated enjoyed the day as old acquaintances and new joined in the laughter and joy. Friends and family and others cheered as the runners came past the finish line, whether it was the first male or female or runner in their age group or the last.

Last year it was newcomers Connor King, 17, of Chandler, finishing first overall for the men’s division in a respectable 17:59.61, and Christen Rogers, 33, of Silver City, New Mexico, who finished in 23:00.29 as the fastest female on the course.

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: Connor King, left took first place overall for the men’s division, and Christen Rogers, right, did so for the women’s division.

The overall male and female winners are awarded $50 and a medal, while medals are also given to the top three finishers in each age category, male and female. There are also various raffle drawings and prizes donated by the race’s various sponsors. A turkey will be given to the family with the most registered participants. 

It’s not all about who finishes first, however, and groups of families join in on the fun to run with each other and see extended family. The family with the most participants is also rewarded with a turkey. Nelson said she loves to see the evolution of the number of people in a family participating from the start of just one member who perhaps likes to run going the first year, to the entire family joining in during subsequent years.

“You wouldn’t think taking home a frozen turkey would be that exciting, but people get pretty excited about being the biggest family there, so we like to see that,” Nelson previously said.   

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: Event co-founders Melinda Nelson, left, and Cody Marshall, right, cozy up with Tom Turkey (Stephanie Hoopes.)

Registration is available online here and is just $10 until Nov. 17, after which registration will be $15 through race day, so get in early to save some dough. Early packet pickup will be Wednesday, Nov. 24 at the Pima Schools Cafeteria at the corner of Main Street and 200 South from 3 – 7 p.m. 

All the proceeds from the event are donated to Pima Schools and throughout its history, the event has donated more than $90,000 for a variety of programs and equipment. 

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Tom Turkey (Stephanie Hoopes) makes his/her way to the finish line in style.

WhatPima Turkey Trot

Where: Vard Lines Memorial Roping Arena

When: Thanksgiving morning, Thursday, Nov. 25

Time: 8 a.m. – 1-mile Fun Run; 8:45 a.m. – 5K

Cost: $10 per entrant until Nov. 17, then $15 per entrant until race day

For more information visit pimaturkeytrot.com.