By Tracey Leong

TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — Before digging into their turkey dinners, runners across Maryland woke up early to hit the pavement.

WJZ’s Tracey Leong explains this annual Thanksgiving tradition.

This year, a record number of people participated in the Turkey Trot, with thousands lacing up for a good cause.

Runners of all ages — breaking a sweat before their big turkey feast, with their furry companions by their sides.

“Get ahead of the pie, to burn the calories before I eat them,” said Michele Connor. “It’s all about the pie.”

And runners exercising with a mission.

“This is our major fundraising event for the year. We are holding six across the region,” said John Hoey, YMCA Central Maryland President.

Each year, this tradition in Towson and across the state attracts more and more people — 13,000 joining this year’s Turkey Trot to help raise money for the YMCA’s youth programs.

“It’s a great way to exercise with family. My daughter’s here with me. There are people here from 5 to 85,” said Peter Beilenson, Evergreen Health, race sponsor.

A time to come together with friends and family to give thanks.

“I am thankful I get to do this. I’m thankful there’s the invention called a portable oxygen concentrator so I can be out here running,” said Mary Kitlowkski.

And an excuse to break out the costumes after Halloween.

“It’s just to make it a little bit more fun. Last year, we just had the hats. This year, we added the tutus, and god knows what we’ll do next year,” Connor said.

The YMCA will raise more than $600,000 dollars with Thursday’s races.

There were six Turkey Trots across Maryland — the one in Towson as well as Arnold, Baltimore City, Bel Air, Ellicott City and Westminster.

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