The Seattle Turkey Trot started 13 years ago with three Ballard buddies inviting friends and family to burn some calories before tucking into their Thanksgiving meals.

The annual 5K event grew from 50 participants in its first year to nearly 5,000, and is the Ballard Food Bank’s largest fundraiser.

“Obviously, it’s a huge community event and raises a lot of money for Ballard Food Bank,” said Haley Hanson, individual giving and events manager at Ballard Food Bank. “It’s our largest fundraiser of the year, but it’s also a great way to bring all of this community together.”

Erin Fortier, Matt Ramme and John O’Brien started the Turkey Trot, but turned it over to the food bank after it became too large to manage.

“In my family, it was a tradition to go for a run on Thanksgiving morning,” Fortier once explained of its origins. “It was our way of spending time with family on the holidays and feel better about all the food we’d be eating for the rest of the day.”

The Ballard Food Bank provides services to people as far south as Lower Queen Anne and north to Broadview, with an annual operating budget of $1 million.

The Seattle Turkey Trot raised $167,000 last year, or more than 10 percent of that operating budget. This year’s Turkey Trot is expected to raise around $150,000.

“People do donate when they register, and we have that on our website,” Hanson said. “We’re very lucky to get a lot of donations with ticket purchases as well.”

The organization has operated as a food bank for decades, and in 2017 it transformed into a community resource hub, offering space for 14 different service providers to help people access emergency financial assistance, transportation, veteran’s services, housing and health care. The community resource hub counted 1,266 people using it in 2018.

“We like to showcase that our coverage area is quite large and that our programs go way beyond food,” Hanson said.

There is also a Weekend Food for Kids Program available to students at Queen Anne and Magnolia schools.

This is the first year that longtime Ballard Food Bank supporter Ethan Stowell will be the presenting sponsor for the Turkey Trot.

"The Ballard Food Bank is a cornerstone of this community," the renowned Seattle restaurateur and chef said in a news release. "As our city grows, so does the inequity. There is 'hidden poverty' in most neighborhoods, making the Food Bank's work even more crucial."

The 13th annual Seattle Turkey Trot will start at 9 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 28. People will walk, run and trot from 32nd Avenue Northwest and Northwest 85th Street to the finish line at Golden Gardens Park. Early registration is $30 ($15 for children 10 and under) and ends on Nov. 14. People will be able to register for $40 and $20, respectively, from Nov. 15-27. Adults pay another $5 for day-of-registration. More at

Participants are encouraged every year to wear Thanksgiving costumes, which means a lot of turkeys, but whatever people want to wear is just gravy.

“It’s a good excuse to use your Halloween costumes again as well,” Hanson said.