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A Turkey Day Tradition

Why the Tonka Turkey Trot will be your new favorite Thanksgiving tradition

Whether it’s your mother’s legendary pumpkin pie or, no matter how old you get, the time-honored squabble between siblings over who gets to break the wishbone, these traditions make the holidays.  

This year you may want to add one more tradition to your Thanksgiving day: the Tonka Turkey Trot. Decked out in Thanksgiving-themed costumes, runners and walkers dressed as turkeys and chefs gather at the Dome outside Minnetonka High School to begin their Thanksgiving day with a 5K run/walk, helping raise funds for the Minnetonka Track and Field and Cross Country Association. 

“I never knew turkey costumes even existed before this race,” laughs Tonka Turkey Trot co-chair Ingrid Steele. 

“It started as a whirlwind brainstorm idea of a fun way to raise money for the Track and Field Association and the track and cross-country teams,” explains co-chair Bonnie Sons. “The first year it was this small event with about 50 runners following a course that snaked around the baseball field onto the trail behind the high school. But now, run on a certified course, it draws in around 2,000 people and has become a fun Thanksgiving tradition for families and the whole community.”

Ingrid and her co-chair Bonnie got involved years ago when their kids were in the track and cross-country programs. And even though their kids are grown and out of college, their love for running and wanting to give back have them showing up every year to participate in this community-favorite Thanksgiving tradition.

“We’re either dedicated or crazy, I’m not sure which,” says Bonnie. “But I don’t think we or the other volunteers would give up our Thanksgiving morning year after year if it wasn't so much fun.” 

Now celebrating its 12th year, the Tonka Turkey Trot is run by all volunteers and with the support of local businesses who sponsor the event, helping keep race fees down. Ingrid explains, “We don’t want prices to get to the point where a family of four or five can’t participate because it gets too expensive.” And no one in the family will want to miss out. Between the Turkey Scoot, a 100-meter non-timed fun run for kids to race with Turkey Mascots, photo booths, DJ, refreshments, and cheering on participants, there’s something for everyone. 

If you’ve never done a 5K before, the Tonka Turkey Trot is the perfect place to start. Ingrid recalls, “For some who were a bit intimidated at first but decided to give it a shot, it inspired them to run other 5K races moving forward in life.” Inspiring someone to create those new healthy habits is just one of the many benefits of the event. The other, of course, is the funds that help the high school athletes. 

The funds raised have helped with a new pole vault pit, hurdle replacement, and adding more coaches, which is invaluable for a program with over 100 kids. The Tonka Turkey Trot also partners with ICA Food Shelf. “When you register, you can donate to ICA. Last year, we donated well over $2,000,” says Bonnie. “When you go home to a nice turkey dinner with your family, it feels good to know we’re helping people in the greater community who maybe aren’t as fortunate.” 

Whether you want to run, walk, scoot, volunteer, or cheer, learn how to get involved at