Thousands of runners competed for bragging rights and pumpkin pie Thursday morning as they got an early start celebrating Thanksgiving during the annual Turkey Trot race along the pedestrian path on Rosie’s Dog Beach
Justin Rudd, a local philanthropist and the creator of the event, said about 2,400 people participated in the races this year. Some runners dressed as food items commonly found at a Thanksgiving feast.
Before the Long Beach event started 20 years ago, Rudd said he only knew of there being a Turkey Trot in Torrance and Dana Point. So, in an effort to get some momentum going for his nonprofit, Community Action Team (CAT), which does monthly beach cleanups, Rudd decided to start several local 5K trot events in Long Beach, including the Turkey Trot.
Eventually, the Long Beach Turkey Trot became so popular that Rudd stopped doing the other 5Ks and just focused on the Thanksgiving event instead. Now, the money raised during the Turkey Trot is used to fund Rudd’s nonprofit work.
When Nick Mejia signed up for the Long Beach Turkey Trot this year, he never planned on winning, he said.
The 18-year-old Long Beach resident said he’s been doing the race practically since he was born and even came in second place two years in a row.
But on Thursday morning, Mejia, who said he told his parents he planned on jogging this year, was neck and neck for first place with another runner as the two approached the final stretch of the 5K race.
That’s when he took off, leaving the other runner trailing behind and earning himself some pumpkin pie.
“It’s a great way to start off Thanksgiving,” Mejia said.