In Bethesda’s earliest days in the 1800s, the swiftest Bethesdians would leave their homes before dawn on Thanksgiving day, enter the ancient and remote forests of Rockville and search for the largest and fiercest turkeys of the woodlands. Once found, the runners would surround and chase the birds through down-town Bethesda. Much like the running of the bulls in Pamplona, the entire town would come out to run with the noble birds on a 6 mile loop through town. After the turkeys escaped back into the forest, residents would hitch-up their German-engineered wagons and drive to Balducci’s to buy everything required for a tasteful and environmentally responsible Thanksgiving meal. For nearly 200 years, runners in Montgomery County have continued this tradition on Thanksgiving day.
OK, I confess. I made all of that up. Disappointingly, the organizers of this annual 10K run don’t release wild turkeys to be chased by more than 6,000 runners through downtown Bethesda. Still, this is a great run and a great local tradition that’s in its 25th year. Although it’s Montgomery County’s largest road race, it may be our most relaxed race. It’s a great way to spend the morning before settling into a day of eating and football. Proceeds of the race support the YMCA Bethesda-Chevy Chase and the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rotary Club Foundation. See the official web site for more information and pictures from past races. Start a new tradition this year!