The 20th annual Turkey Trot race is moving out of downtown Fredericksburg to Central Park because the race got too big, the organizer said today.
Terry McLaughlin said the race route should be finalized by the end of the week.
"As of right now we will start and finish at the Expo Center," he said. "The race got too big."
McLaughlin said Fredericksburg Department of Economic Development and Tourism Director Karen Hedelt approached him after the race last year about moving the Thanksgiving morning race because a few residents complained about it and the race was getting too big.
"When we first did it we had about 200 runners, that was it and it has grown ever since," he said. More than 3,000 people registered for the race last year.
McLaughlin said he is fine with the move and was considering it anyway because one of the main challenges of having it start at James Monroe High School the past two years is that runners would have to squeeze into one lane on Washington Avenue as they approached the right turn onto Cornell Street.
"That was the main issue," he said. "People had to stop and slow down."
For the first 17 years, the race started at the downtown library on Caroline Street, but McLaughlin said it outgrew that route so it was moved to start and end at the James Monroe High School parking lot.
"Central Park is an ideal place because it will probably accommodate 6,000 to 10,000 runners," he said.
Hedelt said as the race has grown through the years, it has created an increasing impact on the neighborhoods in which it is staged.
"We have fielded a number of complaints from residents who are impacted not just by the Turkey Trot but by an increasing number of events that affect their daily lives," she said in an email today. "This year with the volume of runners and concerns for safety, especially in the start/finish area, we told the YMCA staff they needed to strategize how to continue the race safely using another course."
There are 29 walks, runs and races held in the city right of way. A PDF is attached to this article listing all of the races and routes.
Hedelt said she is working with event sponsors of other races to adjust routes, especially for new events, for the numerous run and walk events that are staged in the same neighborhoods "so the impact is dispersed throughout the city as best we can."
Visit the YMCA website for more information on the race and registration forms.