The story behind the Turkey Trot

Five years ago, Rod Simpson approached the YMCA with the idea of hosting a Turkey Trot in support of the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign. And now, it’s become a Thanksgiving tradition for many families and individuals.

Rod and his family moved to Cobourg 18 years ago and have always remained involved with community events and activities. They quickly joined the Cobourg YMCA as members and one of Rod’s fitness goals was to start running.

“When I started running, I noticed our community had many excellent and passionate runners,” says Rod. “Many of them enjoyed participating in races, but unfortunately, Northumberland didn’t really have a local race that represented our community.”

Rod began researching other community races with the hope he could organize an event that was fun, family-friendly, yet still challenging for the avid runner. Throughout his research, he stumbled across a popular event in the States known as a Turkey Trot. With the fall season being the ideal time for running because of the beautiful colours and cooler weather, Rod decided to pursue a Northumberland Forest Turkey Trot. Knowing he wanted the event to be a fundraiser, Rod approached YMCA Northumberland with his idea of hosting a Turkey Trot, to benefit the annual fundraising campaign, YMCA Strong Kids campaign.

“We were thrilled when Rod approached us with the idea of the Turkey Trot,” says Eunice Kirkpatrick, Executive Director of YMCA Northumberland. “The event nicely aligned with our values, so it was an excellent opportunity for the Strong Kids campaign and our community. Rod has always shown such passion for everything he does and the event’s growing success speaks volumes for his dedication and enthusiasm.”

To this day, the Turkey Trot continues to provide a challenging course for participants of all ages with its 5km run, 2.5km run/walk, 2km and 1km kid’s run, and the Gobble Wobble search for children under 4 years old. Now going into its fifth year, the Turkey Trot continues to grow in participants and supporters; starting with only 60 registrants in its first year, the event now expects over 300 participants with children, youth, adults and seniors all represented.

“We have so much support from local business and individuals who truly make this a great event,” says Rod. “The YMCA is an excellent partner because they have allowed me to be creative and ensure the event’s main focus is participants. I didn’t want the registration fee to be a financial barrier for anyone, which is why the race is priced much lower than other community races.”

Since moving to Cobourg and beginning his running journey, Rod has successfully completed 16 marathons, four of which were in Boston. Rod naturally embodies YMCA values and continues to share his passion for health and well-being with the community through the Turkey Trot.

As Rod would say, “Remember, don’t be a chicken…be a turkey.”

Learn more about the Northumberland Forest Turkey Trot.