CLARK, NJ — The Westfield Turkey Trot, an annual Thanksgiving weekend tradition that usually takes place in Tamaques Park, is moving to Oak Ridge Park this year due to COVID-19 considerations. There will also be a virtual option, organizers said.

“Our annual Turkey Trot is now in its 37th year, but will be taking it's very first, and hopefully only, road trip to Oak Ridge Park in Clark,” said Tears Smith, head coordinator of Sports Action Reaction, which operates the run.

“This was primarily a safety decision as the park's closed pathways allow us to start runners periodically over a one- to two-hour window instead of the usual crowded group start. Oak Ridge will also allow us to reduce the number of volunteers needed this year. We love our volunteers, but definitely wanted to minimize risk.”

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The run, which takes place Saturday, Nov. 28, will also be 5 kilometers this year, instead of the usual 5 miles. 

“We have a detailed COVID safety plan and feel confident in its ability to keep everyone safe and healthy,” Smith said. “It takes the cooperation of the whole Trot community and together we will create the environment allowing us to continue our beloved tradition, get exercise and fresh air with a little bit of competition and experience something that feels pretty close to normal in these abnormal times.”

Among the precautions: Limited attendance in compliance with the governor's orders, staggered start times and having plenty of sanitizer, extra masks, wipes and gloves on hand, she said. You can read the complete plan on their website

And then there’s the virtual option for those who would rather run on their own.

“Virtual runs are an amazing way to stay connected with our running community and our traditions,” Smith said. “Not everyone feels safe in every situation, and so we feel it is important for our Trot family to have the option of running near home and not missing the year. Runners will have the opportunity to upload their finish times, interact on our Facebook page and event and receive the same souvenirs as in-person runners.”

Sports Action Reaction has already hosted two live in-person events this year, as well as one “hybrid” event.

“We put an extreme amount of time into the planning of each and tweak our COVID safety plan for the specifics of each event,” Smith said. “We were absolutely thrilled at the first event to see how on-board all of the attendees were with following the plan we had in place. Masks were worn, everyone social distanced.”

“It is a privilege to be able to host literally anything this year and we're taking that responsibility very seriously,” she added. “I think our runners understand this as well and have everyone's best interest in mind. If we do it right, we'll earn the right to do it again — so we're all on the same team.”

As to where to get those turkey hats?

“It's pretty hit or miss with what you'll find on any given year out on the shelves, so keep those eyes peeled!”

Register for the Westfield Turkey Trot online at

TAPinto Westfield is a media sponsor of the Westfield Turkey Trot.

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