ITHACA, N.Y. – The 46th Annual Turkey Trot brought about 230 runners and walkers – and at least three pups – out this frigid Thanksgiving morning. Bob Congdon, who organized the first Thanksgiving fun run in 1973 and has run every year since, said this year’s might have been the coldest yet.

Congdon’s notes from the inaugural run show Nov. 23, 1973 was a balmy 45 degrees with mostly sunny skies.

When runners walked to the starting line at 9 a.m. Thursday, the National Weather Service clocked Ithaca at 14 degrees with a zero degree wind chill. By the time the final participants crossed the finish line, snow was falling and the wind was gusting.

While the temperature kept attendance down a bit compared to recent years, it didn’t dampen participants’ enthusiasm. One family donned homemade, crocheted turkey hats. Drumstick headbands abounded.

Participants were generous, too. Donations from the event go to Loaves and Fishes, and counting only in-person donations the event raised about $2,500.

Rev. Christina Culver, director of Loaves and Fishes, said the donations go a long way toward helping the organization provide free daily meals to people in need.

Turkey Trot participants don’t compete for the fastest time; they compete over who comes the closest to guessing their time. Before heading out, everyone records their best guess of how long the 5.5 mile course will take them.

This year, Matt Bishop took home a Purity pie for having the closest guess. Bishop estimated he’d finish in 52:30, and came in at 52:35. It was Bishop’s sixth time running the race, and the first time the cold prompted the rest of his family to skip it, he said.

The event depends on volunteers and local donors for support. This year, about a dozen volunteers helped out during the run. Ithaca Bakery sent enough breads, bagels and pastries for the runners to refuel, Purity donated pies for prizes, and Cornell Orchards provided discounted apples and cider.

Bruce Roebal, who coordinated the event and ran it for the 18th time, said despite the cold he was grateful there wasn’t much snow on the ground and that so many folks turned out. “It’s for a great cause, and it’s really a great family tradition,” he said.

Here are some photos from the event.

(Devon Magliozzi/The Ithaca Voice)

Devon Magliozzi

Devon Magliozzi is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at or 607-391-0328.