It's a new era for this Little Rock tradition. The annual Gobbler Turkey Trot, a Thanksgiving Day fun run through The Heights and Hillcrest, will hit the streets this year with a new team at the helm.
Since its inception more than a decade ago, the event has been organized by Go! Running, which closed its shop in 2021, but continues to offer coaching and training services. This year, the team at Rock City Running will take the reins, keeping the event's same location and the same mission to bring in donations for the Arkansas Foodbank, but making a slight name change from Go!bbler to Gobbler.
The transition comes as RCR settles into its own new location in the Market Place Shopping Center on Rodney Parham after the March 31 tornado destroyed its longstanding store.
But when Go! Running approached RCR with the idea of taking over the run, the decision was an easy one.
"This is a community and family event residents in the Heights, Hillcrest and all of Little Rock have generously supported over the years. There was no question we would continue the Thanksgiving Day tradition," says Bill Torrey, owner of RCR. "This year has brought challenges and exceptionally difficult seasons to many in our community. We have a lot to be thankful for this year.
"Participants are always generous with their donations to the Arkansas Foodbank. We were not going to let them or the food bank down."
As is tradition, runners will have their choice of 3-, 4- or 6.5- mile courses, as well as the return of Tom's Tiny Trot, a parking lot loop for kids ages 8 and younger. And yes, Santa will also return to help collect donations.
"We are super proud of what we built with the Go!bbler and that we have raised 200,000 meals for the food bank over the last 12 years," Go! Running Owner Gary Taylor says. "It's become a family tradition now for so many families, and they all go home knowing they have given to the community on Thanksgiving Day. It is only natural that a great local running shop hosts this event, so we are delighted that Rock City Running will continue with this and only make it better."
The 2023 Gobbler Turkey Trot kicks off with the Tiny Trot at 7:50 a.m. The entry fee is canned goods, non-perishable food items or monetary donations, but you can also drop off donations beginning two weeks before Thanksgiving at RCR and Little Rock Athletic Club locations.