How To: Turkey Trot on the NYC Parade Route

The NYRR Virtual Turkey Trot 5K is underway, as runners are dashing into the holiday season with the final race of the 2019 NYRR Virtual Racing Series. To join in that celebration, we've designed a course that follows the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade route here in New York City, for those trotters who are celebrating the holiday within the five boroughs. Interestingly enough, many of the sections of the parade route also follow parts of NYRR races that take place throughout the year.

Here's the link to the route, with some more information below:

Since the parade route is only about 2.5 miles, we added on a loop around the American Museum of National History to stretch the run out to a full 5K. Thanksgiving Day is one of two days that the museum is closed to visitors—the other being Christmas Day—but if you run this route on Wednesday, November 27, between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m., you can get a sneak preview of the parade balloons as they're inflated on Central Park West between 74th and 81st Streets.

On an NYRR-related note, the NYRR New York Mini 10K follows Central Park West in the opposite direction, starting near Columbus Circle and running north. The Mini passes the parade route's starting point, at West 77th Street and Central Park West, in the first mile, and continues north before turning into Central Park.

Another note on timing: While this race does have a Thanksgiving theme, trying to run it on Thanksgiving Day itself will be a difficult task—and one we don't recommend attempting. Since the streets will be closed for the parade, and the sidewalks lined with spectators, it's best to explore this route sometime outside of when the parade will be taking place. For Thursday, leave the roadway to the marchers and the floats.

With all that said, let's follow the route south to Columbus Circle, a familiar sight for TCS New York City Marathon finishers. Just as the Marathon route turns from Central Park South to Columbus Circle before re-entering the park, the parade route follows Columbus Circle in the opposite direction, toward Central Park South.

Runners in the TCS New York City Marathon on Central Park South near Columbus Circle

From there, the parade turns right onto Sixth Avenue—just as the Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5K turns from Sixth onto Central Park South. And while the Dash ends its Sixth Avenue segment at 42nd Street, for this run, you'll continue down to 34th Street to the finish of this 5K route.

Runners on Sixth Avenue in Manhattan at the Abbott Dash to the Finish Line 5K

Prospective Turkey Trotters should be aware that the streets and sidewalks may be crowded, even on days other than Thanksgiving—this is Midtown, after all, and Midtown during the holidays, at that—so take your time and use this part of the course to "see the sights."

Along this portion of the run, you'll pass Carnegie Hall (57th Street), Radio City Music Hall (51st Street), Rockefeller Center (50th Street), and Bryant Park (42nd Street) before reaching the finish line outside of Macy's on 34th Street. Please be mindful of vehicle and pedestrian traffic along the way—you may have to stop at certain points along the route—but if you can make it all the way to 34th Street without catching a red light, consider it a "Miracle."

Whether you're in New York for Thanksgiving or celebrating outside of the city, you can take part in the free NYRR Virtual Turkey Trot 5K anytime, anywhere between November 23 and December 1. And if you're already signed up for your local in-person turkey trot, you can count those miles toward your virtual race as well!

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Ted Doyle

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