Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Saturday, November 24, 2012

There were 14,000 runners registered in this year's Turkey Trot. I was trying to remember how many there were in 2000, the year of the Thanksgiving week snowstorm, and finally I looked it up: 3,506. The first year I ran it, in 1996, there were 3,941 registered. (That was the year I didn't stay for the "Must be present to win" door prize.) I've pretty much found a race every year since then, and I have been lucky to have a daughter (or sometimes two) run it with me almost every year. (There were one or two when my brother and I ran without Emily; Caroline's current six year streakdoes not include any of the Prospect Park races.) Frankly, the Thanksgiving Day race has become my favorite part of the holiday.

Every year in Buffalo running circles there is a debate about whether WNY could or would support a second or even a third race. 14,000 is a bunch of runners, and the post race party venue is maxed out. Those Prospect Park runs didn't have parties-- age group winners got a pie, and there were a couple of cases of bottled water lying around, but nobody stayed to mingle. Here, the party is part of the overall experience. The Oldest Continuously Run Road Race in North America is as much a reunion as it is anything else- we are very much a community of ex-pats, and Thanksgiving is when people come home. Based on the numbers, sure, a race in the Southtowns, or maybe South Buffalo, and a race in Niagara Falls might make sense, but one of the reasons people run in the present race is the sense of connection that participation in a longstanding (119 years) tradition provides. The Albany area supports races in Troy, Clifton Park, Cohoes, Schenectady, and Bethlehem. The Troy race offers a choice of a 5k or a 10k which is nice, and is pretty venerable in its own right, going back to 1916. I'm sorry I didn't run it back when we used to go to Thanksgiving in Albany.Will we see a decline in enrollment from 14,000? That impresses me as a number that may reflect a fad, but it is hard to picture it going back to four or five thousand.

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