The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Holiday traditions and early morning runs: Unpacking the Thanksgiving Day 5k

Every family has a holiday routine—add an early run for a good cause to yours this Thanksgiving!
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Lexie Perez
Graphic depicting a turkey joining a pack of runners on a Thanksgiving Day 5k. (Hustler Multimedia/Lexie Perez)

Whether your dad scrounges the basement for a makeshift “kids table” to accommodate hoards of cousins who are coming over for Thanksgiving dinner or Nov. 24 is just another normal Thursday, it is undeniable that for those who celebrate, most families have a Thanksgiving Day routine. Some families watch football together or play ball with each other while the turkey cooks. Others do their best to hold off on playing Christmas music for 24 more hours and mentally prepare for upcoming Black Friday sales. If you’re my brother, you play video games while the rest of my family makes dishes for the evening feast. 

My family’s morning starts bright and early at 7:30 a.m. Every year, we run the local 5k race—which in Indianapolis, Indiana is called The Drumstick Dash—with over 10,000 other participants. Signs that read “Move your feet so others can eat” show up around the community every November, referring to how the race is a yearly initiative to raise money for Wheeler Mission, a homeless shelter that serves Thanksgiving dinner to the underprivileged in downtown Indianapolis. 

Some Hoosiers show up in inflatable turkey costumes or tutus with turkey-leg fairy wings, but if you’re me (absolutely not a morning person), you show up daydreaming about the mountain of blankets you were dragged away from. Admittedly, I’m not always the most thrilled to run a 5k that early in the morning, but I always end up feeling happy that I participated. Not only do I get to be a part of a great cause, but I also work up an appetite for the rest of the day’s festivities. 

Other students have expressed a similar sentiment to the “turkey trot” routine I grew up on. Sophomore Diya Desai’s family also incorporates a Thanksgiving run into their morning routine. 

“Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because of the traditions and food. We always wake up in the morning and do the Turkey Trot with the family,” Desai said. “Then, if we are at my grandmother’s house in New Orleans, we go to Cafe du Monde afterwards for beignets and hot chocolate.” 

Even without a run, family festivity schedules are still in place for sophomore Riley Callen. With a house full of family members who have traveled far and wide, there is no shortage of activities to pass the time as the food cooks. 

“One of my favorite Thanksgiving Day traditions is walking to the beach with my cousins before dinner,” Callen said. “My family has Thanksgiving in Cape Cod so it’s always perfect cool fall weather.” 

Other students have been influenced by classmates to switch up their Thanksgiving routine, like sophomore Emily Waechtler. 

“I’ve heard so many good things from friends about their Turkey Trot traditions, and I’m excited to participate in my first this year,” Waechtler said. 

So much excitement surrounds the Vanderbilt student body in the days leading up to break, and while that is likely due to some much needed time to recharge before finals, this elation is also warranted by emotions incited from the consistency of family traditions. My family has been doing the Drumstick Dash for as long as I can remember, and even though I am by no means a runner, I will always connect the 5k to my childhood Thanksgivings. Year after year, we walk back home with crumpled race bibs, cold red noses and wind-swept hair while sipping on hot cider as we skip along to speed up the journey to find refuge in the warmth of the kitchen oven. 

Your family may have a routine set in stone, but if you are looking to switch it up this year, many cities have similar races on Thanksgiving morning. If you find yourself staying in Nashville this upcoming week, there are multiple options to start your holiday in a new way. The Nashville Turkey Trot offers 8k and 10 mile race options, and the Music City Turkey Trot is a traditional 5k. Even with the chilly conditions and early start, a morning run establishes a sense of togetherness and thankfulness for the health and well-being of family members from sunrise to sunset. 

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About the Contributors
Greer Fraser, Senior Staff Writer
Greer Fraser ('25) is a student in the College of Arts and Science planning to major in medicine, health and society and minor in psychology. When she's not passing time making Spotify playlists for every situation, she enjoys going to coffee shops with friends and finding tickets to last-minute Nashville concerts. You can reach her at [email protected].
Lexie Perez, Graphics Director
Lexie Perez (‘26) is from Northern Virginia and is majoring in climate studies and human and organizational development and minoring in business in the College of Arts and Science. She enjoys listening to 70s and 80s pop music, doing the daily Wordle and rooting for the Nashville Predators and Cincinnati Bengals. She can be reached at [email protected].
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