They arrive at dawn. Thousands of people. The joggers. The hopefuls. The champions.
Most of those runners at the Times Turkey Trot crowd the starting line of the 5K Wingding, a 3.1-mile race that attracts as many as 6,000.
Those overwhelming numbers present a huge logistical challenge for organizers who each year try to accommodate elite runners aiming for top times and the more casual participants content with completing the course at a more leisurely pace.
This year, they seem to have found a solution by splitting the 5K into two races.
The Wingding is now strictly for the serious runner. That will be followed by a 5K fun run for the not-so-serious runner.
"Before it was just way too many people in one race," said race director Skip Rogers. "This split solves a lot of problems."
The 5K Wingding has a strong field that includes former Clearwater Central Catholic star Kevin Lyons, who won two years ago.
In the 10K, former Keswick Christian and USF standout Christa Benton is attempting to win her fourth straight title.
Rogers expects more than 15,000 to participate in the Thanksgiving Day races: the 5K (3.1-mile) Wingding that's off at 7:15 a.m., the 5K fun run (3.1-mile) at 7:30, the 1-mile Gobbler at 8:30 or the 10K (6.2-mile) Turkey Trot at 8:45.
All races except the fun run begin at Keene Road just south of Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard and end at Jack White Stadium at Clearwater High School. The fun run starts on Druid Road.