Fifth Third Turkey Trot: The Parade Before The Parade


America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is one of the great traditions in Detroit. Families from around Southeast Michigan, numbering close to a million strong, make the annual pilgrimage every Thanksgiving day to Woodward Avenue to “do” the parade, and kick off the holiday season.

But before the parade each Thanksgiving morning, there is another parade of sorts. Tens of thousands intrepid souls participate in the ambitious trek to Woodward Avenue as a traditional way to kick off their Thanksgiving
holiday. They rise early, find their way to Cobo Center and confront the most unpredictable elements, all to run in the annual Fifth Third Turkey Trot.

Runners by the thousands line up to do the Turkey Trot (10K), Mashed Potato Mile, and the Stuffing Strut (5K). The 28th annual Fifth Third Turkey Trot is not only the largest 10K run in Michigan, it is the most colorful.

Hundreds of runners wear costumes. To encourage even more galloping masqueraders, race organizers have set up a special costume corral at the start of the course. Awards are handed out for the best and most inventive costumes. Runners can even rent a costume from the Parade Company, the producers of the race, if they don’t have one. (Go to for more details.)

“For the running community the Turkey Trot has been as much of a Thanksgiving Day tradition as America’s Parade and the Lions game,” said Fifth Third marketing director Jack Riley.
What is new this year?

Three Wave Start – Fast Fit & Fun to help runners and walkers take off smoother. Each group will have corresponding colored numbers to help place them in the right corral. Fast (8 min. and under pace). Fit (8-10 min. pace). Fun (10 min. and over pace). Fast and Fit start at 7:45 a.m.; Fun at 8 a.m.

Doggie water stops next to the people water stops. Doggie handlers identified with bibs so runners can go to the bathroom without their dogs.

The deadline for online registration is Nov. 20. The mail-in deadline is Nov. 20.

Late registration is available on Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 24 and 25 at Cobo Center.

Last year over 1,000 runners and walkers wore costumes. This is what makes the race “the parade before the parade.” Wearing costumes for the Turkey Trot is an honored tradition and highly encouraged. Prizes are given for originality and execution. Team themes are especially welcome.

From the first year as the Fifth Third Turkey Trot with just over 4,000 runners, to 2009 where over 15,000 runners participated, the race and the runner experience has improved each year due in large part to Doug Kurtis, Race director. No one knows professional running like Doug Kurtis. He has competed in nearly 200 marathons, winning 40 (a world record) and running 76 in sub 2:20 time (another world record.).

Kurtis has focused on improving each year. One of his mantras for the race is to more closely align it with the atmosphere of the parade, thus, the push to have runners wear costumes.

“It’s just fun,” Kurtis continued. “One of the big attractions of this race is that people get to run the parade course in front of thousands of people before the parade actually begins. Why not give the spectators something to cheer for? And Cobo will look like the backstage of the parade with costumes, balloons and music. It is a unique experience and anyone can enjoy it.”

The Fifth Third Turkey Trot also includes a 5K run called the Stuffing Strut and a 1 Mile fun run called the Mash Potato Mile.

For more information or to register, visit the website at


From the Web