The Windham Turkey Trot was started in 1995 on Blossom Road by next door neighbors, Louise Peltz and Heidi Reever, when they wanted to participate in a run on Thanksgiving morning. Both were hosting dinner in their homes, and didn’t feel there was enough time to drive to Andover to participate in the iconic Feaster Five. If they had been aware of Derry’s Turkey Trot, which began in 1973, Windham’s event may never have started.
Invitation flyers were delivered to neighbors and 50 joined in the fun. In keeping with the spirit of Thanksgiving, Heidi & Louise asked participants to bring canned goods as a donation for The Shepherd's Food Pantry.
In 2020 the operation of running the trot was taken over by Shepherd's Pantry and in 2021 the official starting line moved a few doors down and is hosted by the Dewane Family.
There are 1, 3, and 5 mile courses that travel through the Blossom Road neighborhood in Windham. The start time is 9:00 am Thanksgiving morning, regardless of the weather.
Participants ranging in age from 3 weeks to 96 years run, walk, bike, roller-blade, roll their wheelchairs or are pushed and pulled in strollers and wagons. Many have made the Turkey Trot part of their family's Thanksgiving traditions.
From 50 neighbors in 1995, the Trot has grown to approximately 1,300 participants. After collecting food donations for a couple of years, participants began making monetary donations to the Shepherd's Pantry.
The cost to Trot is a monetary donation; the amount is up to each trotter. Our goal is for everyone to be able to join the fun and not be restricted by pricey registration fees. This is especially true since some groups show up with as many as 15 family members who are in town for the holiday. As a result, individual donations vary widely - from $10 to an amazing $1,000. As of December 2021, the Turkey Trot has raised over $350,000 for charity. As a 501c3 organization, the Turkey Trot's goal is to have 100% of each individual donation benefit local charities. Event expenses are covered by our generous sponsors.
The Turkey Trot is an unofficial race. There are no numbers or chip technology. The official timer is a kitchen clock on a step ladder. Some people are intimidated at the thought of participating in a "race"; the reality is that about 30% of trotters actually run.
Once people experience the Trot for the first time, they usually keep coming back. Participants have a great time; friends and neighbors chat while strolling around the neighborhood, returning college students enjoy a mini reunion with friends, younger children like biking among the excitement, and we always see some impressively competitive runners.