Here in the ATX, nothing goes better with Thanksgiving than a Thundercloud. OK, not an actual sub (at least, not today), but Thanksgiving means the Thundercloud Subs Turkey Trot 5-Miler. It’s a great Austin tradition, now in its 24th year.

This year’s Turkey Trot, could see a record field. Early registration has already topped 12,000 and the combined fields of the run, Kids K and 1-mile walk, could easily exceed last year’s record of 20,000 which will make the Turkey Trot one of the biggest Thanksgiving Day races in the country and the largest 5-miler in Texas.

Bell Wealth ManagementCertainly, impressive numbers but what’s even more impressive about this annual race is the more than $2 million it has raised for Caritas–the community-oriented program that feeds so many homeless and impoverished Central Texans. Last year, the Turkey Trot donated $325,000 to Caritas.

If you have made the Thundercloud Turkey Trot part of your Thanksgiving morning tradition in years past, please be advised that, just like the past three years, the course has abandoned its traditional UT-centered Turkey Trot course which started and finished at Waterloo Park.

The Turkey Trot now uses downtown-centric 5-mile course which starts on the South 1st Street Bridge at Riverside and heads north uphill on Lavaca to 6th Street (the one-mile mark) where runners will head west on 15th and enjoy a gentle downhill. The 2-mile mark is reached just before MoPac and then soon after, the course turns around and returns east past Austin HS and the always tricky three-tiered hill on Cesar Chavez which is so familiar to Austin road runners. The course then returns across the S. 1st Street Bridge and the welcome downhill off it for the big finish on Riverside, right in front of the Long Center.

There will be separate starting corrals and only timed runners will be able to enter the timing corrals. You can enter the 5-miler as an untimed runner, but won’t receive an official time or be eligible for age-group awards.

As usual, the 5-miler gets underway at 9:30 a.m., 45 minutes after the Stepping Stone Kids K. Make sure you get to the race site early as traffic is always an issue. There’s plenty of parking in the nearby City Hall Garage, One Texas Center, Palmer Events and the Statesman lot but with so many runners and walkers, those spaces go quickly. There is also bike parking in a secure corral on the northwest corner of Riverside and 1st Street. You don’t need a lock if you park your bike there. Instead, you’ll receive a wrist band.

Registration and packet pick up began last week at Luke’s Locker and First Texas Honda where it will continue through Wednesday from 10-7 p.m. (Packet pick up closes at 6 p.m. at Luke’s on Wednesday when the store closes; it closes at 3 on Wednesday at First Texas Honda.) There is packet pickup and registration available on race morning at the race site on Thursday morning from 7:30-9. But your best bet is to get down to Luke’s or First Texas Honda before Thursday and avoid the race day rush.

This year there will be a special raffle for a new Honda Accord sedan, donated by First Texas Honda. Raffle tickets are $25 or $75 for four. All proceeds (100 percent) of the raffle money will be donated directly to Caritas. The winner will be announced at 10:45 at the post-race award ceremony.

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