Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

For some, St. Petersburg Times Turkey Trot a Thanksgiving tradition

CLEARWATER — For many, Thanksgiving Day means a host of wonderful aromas emanating from the oven, chatting with loved ones who have come from far away, parades and football games on the flat screen TV, and sharing what we're thankful for.

For others, it's all that and the Turkey Trot, too.

Thursday, about 16,000 will flock to Clearwater High School for the 33rd annual St. Petersburg Times Turkey Trot. All races begin at Keene Road just south of Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard (except the 5K Fun Run, which starts on Druid Road at Keene). They end at the high school's Jack White Stadium, 540 S Hercules Ave.

The quest to get up with the birds and move one's thighs on Thanksgiving morn is a tradition that runs in many families.

"We're seeing third- and fourth-generation runners and walkers," said Skip Rogers, race director for the past 22 years. "The T-shirts are becoming collectible. Lay one down and it's gone."

The race was founded in 1979 by Rogers and a group of avid runners, including former Times editor and columnist Bob Henderson. That year, it was solely a 10K race with fewer than 1,000 participating, Rogers said. Registration fees were $4.

Today it costs between $12 and $20 to enter. Proceeds are donated to a variety of charities.

There are four race categories: a competitive 5K Wingding beginning at 7 a.m.; a 5K Fun Run for walkers, joggers and strollers at 7:30 a.m.; a 1-mile Gobbler for walkers and joggers at 8:30 a.m., and the 10K (6.2-mile) Turkey Trot beginning at 8:45 a.m.

A Turkey Trot Kickoff Party takes place from 5 to 7:30 p.m. today in Clearwater High's stadium. Enjoy free music, snacks and games and purchase official Turkey Trot merchandise. It's the last chance to preregister and pick up a T-shirt before race day. The registration fees are $12 (for the 1-mile Gobbler) and $15 for the other races; only exact cash and checks are accepted.

Patsy Stills, 49, will be there, along with about two dozen family members, many from out of town or other states. The marathoner has run in the event for the past 16 years. She shared the family's routine:

"We get up at 6 a.m. and put on our running clothes," Stills said. "Then we drive to Clearwater High School and drop off our donations of canned goods. Grandma (JoAnn Stills) sits in the bleachers and watches while the others run or walk. We all cheer each other on."

Her brother, Tim Doran, and his family from Winston-Salem, N.C., are devoted trotters. Because he placed in the master's division last year, he'll have a free run this year.

"He jokes that he doesn't care how much it costs for them to fly down, as long as he gets a free race," Stills said. "This year, he wants to break a record. He wants to place in the Grand Masters for both the 5 and 10K."

Patsy and Tim were introduced to the race by her sister-in-law, Joni Stills Haenel, who started running in the event in 1990. Her husband, Gary Haenel — boyfriend back then — has been trotting since the second annual race. The Haenels' home on Eastfield Drive will host a water station on the 5K route.

"We've walked and run through dating, marriage, pregnancies and pushing strollers," said Joni, 54, of Clearwater.

After the race, the family typically caravans over to the Village Inn on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard, where they gobble down a hearty breakfast. Then they nap, chat or play games.

Later, they'll reunite at the Stills' Clearwater home for Thanksgiving dinner — everyone bringing a dish for a potluck surprise.

"Thanksgiving Day is my most favorite holiday of the year," Patsy Stills said. "I love the tradition of getting the family together, going to the Turkey Trot and then having a big meal."

Reach Terri Bryce Reeves at

>>if you go

33rd annual St. Petersburg Times Turkey Trot

When: Thursday. Race times are 7 a.m. 5K Wingding; 7:30 a.m. 5K Fun Run; 8:30 a.m. 1-mile Gobbler; and 10K Turkey Trot at 8:45 a.m.

Where: Staged from Clearwater High School, 540 S Hercules Ave.

Kickoff party tonight: 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the high school's stadium. Last chance to preregister and pick up T-shirt before race day. Registration fees are $12 and $15 tonight, with exact only cash and checks accepted.

Race day: Registration begins at 6 a.m. at the high school's stadium. Registration fees are $15 and $20. Exact cash or checks please.

Bring: Donations of canned goods and non-perishable food items

Info: (727) 562-4700 or visit

For some, St. Petersburg Times Turkey Trot a Thanksgiving tradition 11/22/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 22, 2011 9:15pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking on that comically bad dive?


    What could Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. been thinking in the seventh inning Friday when he dove for a ball and came up yards short?

    Actually, he insisted after all the laughing, teasing and standing ovation from the Twins fans was done, it was a matter of self-preservation.

  2. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo


    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  3. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies


    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  4. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win


    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.
  5. Pinellas licensing board executive director settled hundreds of cases without getting his board's approval

    Local Government

    By Mark Puente

    Times Staff Writer

    Eleanor Morrison complained to the Pinellas licensing board in 2015 that her contractor installed crooked walls and windows and poured too much concrete for her carport.

    Eleanor Morrison poses at her home in Treasure Island, 5/26/17. Morrison filed a complaint with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board and later learned that its former Executive Director, Rodney Fischer, dismissed the case in a private meeting with the contractor.