In a state where everything is big, the ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot is the biggest five mile race of them all - drawing more than 20,000 runners Thursday morning.
"From the first few humble years, it started gaining some energy and enthusiasm. Kind of became a tradition, and then built momentum of its own. And now we got 20,000 people every (Thanksgiving). It's a great way to spend the day with your family," explained Mike Haggerty, the co-owner of ThunderCloud Subs, who also serves as the Turkey Trot run director.
"Having turkeys run outside of humans is pretty fun. Two species in the race. See which one is better," joked Nick Genin, a cross-country runner for St. Edward's University who participated.
"You know it kind of snuck up on me, honestly. Like even as a college student, Thanksgiving break is coming. Like 'Oh my God- I'm going to be the turkey' in three days here," added Eric Moe, the official turkey mascot for the event.
Moe has spent the past several months making appearances throughout Austin to promote the race. And while the race is a great chance to burn off some calories before a hearty Thanksgiving meal, it has a much greater purpose.
"They raise so much money for Caritas. It's such a great event. And to me I think it just promotes the visibility when you got 20,000 people out here every year supporting Caritas and their message," explained Moe.
"From the original idea of just having fun and getting together with your buddies to really creating something significant for our Austin community, that's what keeps me coming out. Just for the greater good," said Haggerty, who's also a board member emeritus of Caritas.
"It's a great cause for Caritas. We're very lucky here in Austin to have the employment situation that we do. But there are still a lot of people out there who are homeless and need meals, and Caritas does that. The linking up since 1991 with ThunderCloud and Caritas great organizations combining just to make Austin a better place to live," said Robert "Evil" Evilizer, the race's announcer.
Evilizer has announced the race for twenty-five years, and ran in the first one. He joked that he thought he was running a 5K instead of a 5 mile.
"After about a three miles, I was going, ' where's the line? Where's the line?" laughed Evilizer.
And while the race is a great morning workout, many runners used it as a reminder to be thankful and charitable.
"I think around Thanksgiving is a real good time for people to realize - hey there are people less fortunate than us. Donate whatever we can. Do whatever we can. Volunteer wherever we can," said Lewis Tsai, who ran with a team.
"I know that I'm very fortunate, and I want other people to be fortunate too," said Aleel Syed, who joined his brother Zain in the 1-mile run.
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