Runners at the start of last year's Turkey Trot 5K race.
Runners at the start of last year’s Turkey Trot 5K race.

For many in Mercer County, waking up early and running three miles is now part of their Thanksgiving tradition.

The Fourth Annual Mercer County Turkey Trot will once again be held at Mercer County Park on Thanksgiving, Nov. 24. The 5K race begins at 8:30 a.m. from the West Picnic area and the 1-mile walk/run begins immediately after the 5K racers depart.

While burning calories before a big meal is a draw for many participants, the goal of the event is to raise money for those who may not be able to afford their own Thanksgiving dinner.

Proceeds from the event benefit local food pantries throughout the county, including Jewish Family and Children’s Services Kosher Food Pantry, Catholic Charities, the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen, Rise Community Services Partnership and Mercer Street Friends.

Jacqueline Goldfinger, one of the event organizers, said the Turkey Trot has already reached its participation goal of 1,200 runners and walkers.

“This is an exciting accomplishment for the entire community and group of volunteers of this event,” Goldfinger said.

The inaugural race drew 430 participants and raised $13,000. In 2014, 760 participants nearly doubled the amount raised, with $22,500 going to local food pantries.

Last year’s race brought in nearly $30,000 and more than 900 runners. With the race growing each year, event volunteers are hoping to raise even more money for those in need.

“This year, we are looking to surpass those figures, remembering those less fortunate by raising funds to support community food banks during this critical time of year,” Goldfinger said.

The 5K registration costs $35 and the 1-mile walk/run costs $30. T-shirts are available to pre-registered runners and walkers, although participants can register the morning of the race.