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12,000 runners take part in 126th annual YMCA Buffalo Niagara Turkey Trot

The 8k race was held on Thanksgiving morning. Runners trotted down Delaware Avenue and over to the finish line near the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Thousands of people laced up their sneakers for an annual Thanksgiving morning tradition in the Queen City.

Runners in the 126th annual YMCA Buffalo Niagara Turkey Trot returned to the City of Buffalo Thursday morning. Runners trotted down Delaware Avenue and over to the finish line near the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. The Buffalo race is the oldest consecutively run foot race in all of North America.

In 2020, the race featured just 125 in-person runners due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Others took part in a virtual option.

This year, 12,000 people were registered to take part. Typically, race organizers cap registration at 14,000, but they cut back the number of participants to allow for more social distancing both during the race and at post-race festivities. 

Liam Hilbert, of Kenmore, was the overall winner and first male runner to cross the finishing line. He finished the race at  24:43. Danielle Orie was the fastest female, crossing the finish line at 27:57. 

This year's race also featured a virtual option where participants can register and run an 8k on their own any time between Thursday, Nov. 25 and Sunday, Nov. 28.

The Turkey Trot is YMCA Buffalo Niagara's largest annual fundraiser.  This year, more than $300,000 was raised for various programs in Western New York, such as summer camp, child care, the healthy meals program, swim lessons, and membership assistance for those who can't afford it. All of the money raised stays locally.

The YMCA also up with FeedMore WNY for the 11th straight year to collect food donations for those in need. Race participants are asked to donate non-perishable food items at the start of the race. To date, runners have donated more than 32,000 pounds of food — enough for 27,000 meals.