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For the Keenans, ThunderCloud Trot is as important as the turkey

Pam LeBlanc

Editor’s note: This article was originally published November 20, 2013

Which came first: The turkey or the trot?

Each Thanksgiving, Bill and Rita Keenan host a crowd for Thanksgiving. Family members and friends stream in from around the country - brothers from Connecticut, a son from Atlanta, friends from Houston.

Sure, turkey’s on the agenda. But another family tradition took hold 20 years ago and might be just as important. Each year, the Keenan crew heads downtown for the ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot.

This year, the merry band of trotters will be a dozen strong. Three plan to race the 5-miler. The rest will walk the 1-miler.

“It’s kind of our Thanksgiving tradition. We get up, throw that turkey in the oven and go race,” Rita Keenan says.

The Turkey Trot is more than a little exercise for the Keenans, too. It’s time to bond with the family. It’s also the setting for the family’s holiday photo. And one year it was the source of endless entertainment for one of the brothers, who couldn’t make the trip from the East Coast.

“Rick Perry was standing there in his little Texas shorts,” Keenan says. “My husband went over to him and asked him to say Happy Thanksgiving to (the missing brother).”

Perry got on the phone and told the absent sibling he wished he was in Austin with the rest of the family, enjoying the perfect weather and the Turkey Trot.

“(My brother) had it on speaker phone and played it for everyone at the Thanksgiving table in Connecticut,” Keenan says.

This year, two of Rita’s brothers are coming down from Connecticut, along with a girlfriend and a family friend. Her daughter and son-in-law from Austin will be there, along with two of their friends from Houston. A son from Atlanta and a niece from South Carolina are headed to Austin, too.

With Rita and Bill, that makes 12 who will line up for the trot.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Rita says. “We love it … It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without it,” Keenan says.

This year’s ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot starts at 9:30 a.m. at the Long Center, 701 W. Riverside Drive. To register, go to