Thanksgiving Day 5K

Different Race, Same Impact.

San Diego’s original and longest-standing Thanksgiving Day turkey trot may look a bit different this year as a virtual event, but its critical mission remains the same: To provide crucial funds to feed the homeless through Father Joe’s Villages’ meal program.

During this season of giving and plenty, we invite you to give back to our community and make an impact on those who have less.

Please reach out to our 5K team with any questions or concerns at 619-446-2133 or








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Every year, Father Joe’s Villages hosts the Thanksgiving Day5K, a turkey trot where people don themed costumes and complete a course through Balboa Park. The COVID-19 pandemic means we can’t celebrate together in person this year. Father Joe’s Villages saw this as an opportunity to bring more people together than ever–virtually!

This year, instead of completing the 5K on Thanksgiving morning, participants will have November 26th – December 1st to do run, walk, swim, rollerskate or any activity at any location or distance of your choosing. Instead of completing your 5K in Balboa Park, you can do it anywhere in the world.

Plus, you’ll still be able to break out the costume! Take a photo of you and your household wearing your turkey trot costumes November 26th – 29th. Share your photo with the #FatherJoes5K, and the winning photo will win a prize package that includes four free registrations to next year’s Turkey Trot.

You can hike your 5K as a pumpkin in the woods. You can longboard your 5K down a hill dressed like a giant cranberry. You can swim your 5K wearing a mashed potato swim cap. The choice is yours. 

Father Joe’s Villages has always depended on the kindness and generosity of the San Diego community to fund the services that help people experiencing homelessness. Our goal for every Turkey Trot is to raise $400,000, which will fund meal services for neighbors most in need. That money goes a long way:

  • $14 is two weeks’ worth of meals for neighbors in need.
  • $28 is enough for a Thanksgiving meal for 24 people. 
  • A veteran struggling on the streets gets 48 meals for $56. 
  • $112 is enough for a family of four to have three meals a day for an entire week. 

The COVID-19 crisis has increased food insecurity in San Diego and Father Joe’s Villages has expanded its food services to new locations and new meals times to meet the growing need and hunger seen in the community.With your help, we’ll be able to meet the demands of that challenge. So dress up like a turkey and run through a flock of pigeons in front of the Eiffel Tower. 

And don’t forget to tag your photo #FatherJoes5K.

Commonly Asked Questions about the Thanksgiving 5K

How Do I Register?

Click here to register for the Father Joe’s Villages’ Turkey Trot. You can register as an individual, as a team, or create a team. Registration for one person is $35, including a t-shirt, bib number, and a medal for all 5k finishers. 

If you want these items delivered to you, shipping is an extra $4. Otherwise, you can pick up your items the week of Thanksgiving on Tuesday 11/24 and Wednesday 11/25.

When you register as part of a team, it’s the same steps except you choose “join a team” after clicking on “register,” search for your team by name, and then select your team when you find it. 

Creating a team requires that you pick the name, set your team’s fundraising goal, and provide your team page headline. 

How Does a Virtual Turkey Trot 5K Work?

Father Joe’s Villages is following County guidelines for keeping participants safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. To encourage physical distancing, instead of doing 5k in Balboa Park, you can do your 5K however you want, wherever you want, and at any time between November 26th – December 1st. 

If you share a photo of yourself doing the 5K in costume between November 26th – 29th and tag it with #FatherJoes5K, then your photo may win you a prize package that includes four free registrations to next year’s Turkey Trot.

If you only want to donate, click here. You’ll be prompted if you want your donation to count toward a particular fundraiser or team, although you can also just make your donation straight to Father Joe’s Villages. 

You can also choose to make your donation to Father Joe’s Villages monthly or choose another way to give back.

What Does Turkey Trot Mean?

In the US, a turkey trot is a footrace that’s usually long-distance and held on Thanksgiving Day. It’s called a turkey trot because turkeys are traditionally the main dish of a Thanksgiving dinner. There are turkey trots in the UK, too, shortly before or after Christmas Day. 

The turkey trot is also a dance from the early 1900s that was done to fast ragtime music. So, you could turkey-trot a turkey trot if you wanted to.

How Many Miles is a Turkey Trot?

Turkey trots tend to be between 3.1 miles (a 5K) and 13.11 miles (half-marathon, or 21.1 km), although turkey trots are often informal fun runs where the focus is more about finishing the course at whatever pace and by whatever means are allowed. Like the Father Joe’s Villages’ turkey trot, some turkey trots encourage people to wear costumes too. Father Joe’s Villages is geared towards providing a fun experience for families so ours is a 5K and running or walking and strollers are encouraged!

What Do You Wear to a Turkey Trot?

Often, turkey trots give you the option of wearing a costume and even have prizes for categories like most creative or cutest dog (if the turkey trot allows dogs to participate, which Father Joe’s does).

Who Invented the Turkey Trot?

As reported by Runner’s World, the first turkey trot was in Buffalo, NY in 1896 (making it 124 years old in 2020). It was a cross country 8k (around 5 miles) with just six participants, with only four of them finishing. 

One runner stopped after two miles, and another stopped when his “late breakfast refused to keep in its proper place.” The winner was Henry A. Allison, who took 31 minutes and 12 seconds to finish the race, which is about six minutes-per-mile. 

You’d think that would have also been the last turkey trot, but it happened the next year and every year since then, making it the oldest continuous footrace in North America.

The tradition of wearing costumes started in the early 1980s, at least in Buffalo, when participants dressed up like Canadian hockey players.