There are four kinds of people who celebrate Thanksgiving.

First, there's the host – the one serving dinner, the one who stands over an oven all day to ensure the feast is cooked to perfection.

Then there's the parade-watcher, who watches the Macy's parade from the comfort of the couch or standing in the cold on the sidewalks of Manhattan.

Next you have your sports fans, the people who kick off the big football day by cheering on their high school team as they play their crosstown rivals.

Finally, you have the people who voluntarily run 3.1 – 5 miles early Thanksgiving morning, despite meeting up with high school buddies at the local watering hole the night before – the people who want to kick start their metabolism before they sit down to dinner.

Not everyone wants to watch football on Thanksgiving Day. Keleigh Nealon (@keleighnealon) has the story.

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Thanksgiving Day road races – commonly known as Turkey Trots – gain in popularity each year and have become a holiday tradition for many.

Take, for example, the Pequot Runners Thanksgiving Day 5-Mile Race in Southport, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

The first race in 1978 attracted about 500 runners, Pequot Runners President Jeff Palmer said. This year, they expect a field of 5,500; with 10 percent of participants signed up to do the 2.6-mile walk the rest are to run full 5-mile course.

Many entrants running this year ran it 40 years ago, Palmer added, and their families join in, too.

Thanksgiving Day races are popping up everywhere, "yet we still grow," Palmer said. "It's a testament to the race and its popularity."

For Marty Schaivone, founder of M.S. Running Productions, the turkey trot is different from other races throughout the year. A Thanksgiving Day race tends to be casual, less competitive and offers "a warm atmosphere," making it a family friendly activity for all fitness levels.

As race director for the Stratford Turkey Day Trot 5K, Schaivone has seen "an extraordinary amount of families" sign up, with people from "all corners of the country" registered for the race.

The Stratford race began 16 years ago with about 85 runners. This year, they expect at least 900, Schaivone said.

"It's the No. 1 running day of the year – no doubt about it."

In addition to metabolism-boosting family bonding time, Thanksgiving Day road races are synonymous with swag. Registration for the Pequot Runners Thanksgiving Day Road Race includes a short-sleeve tech T-shirt to celebrate its 40th anniversary. The Stratford Turkey Day Trot includes a "high quality" tri fit shirt featuring a cartoon turkey.

Interested in joining in on the Turkey Day fun? Registration for the Stratford Turkey Day Trot is open online through Sunday, Nov. 19. Those interested in running the Pequot Runners race can sign up on site race day morning.

Keep the motivation going beyond Thanksgiving – the Cow Chip Cross Country run in Trumbull is Saturday, Nov. 25, as is the Greenwich Alliance for Education Turkey Trot 5K race.

For more information, and to check out other turkey trot races in southwestern Connecticut, scroll through the gallery above.