Bright clear skies and a break in the heavy rains were just another reason for a vibrant group of local runners to be thankful.

More than a thousand participants, many racing in silly holiday-themed gear, flocked to the Jackson County Expo Thanksgiving morning for the 12th annual Turkey Trot. 

Serious runners were in top form for the 8-mile event organized by Southern Oregon Runners, but families of all shapes and stripes gathered with friends for the 2-mile fun run/walk that followed. Between the two events, race organizers said they had 1,200 participants signed-up of and about 1,100 who actually participated.

Sporting a fleece Budweiser and Christmas-light themed pajama onesie with a pair of neon green New Balances, Jacob Hammond of Medford was among those festively dressed the part for the fun run. Standing next to his wife, Kelly Hammond, Jacob joked that the fun run was his path to guilt-free feasting later in the day.

"It's the great equalizer," Hammond said.

Hammond said he's participated in several of the Turkey Trots over the years, but said that he and Kelly typically spend Thanksgiving out of the area. They said they always try to make it when they're in town.

Dressed as a pilgrim and turkey, second-year runners Chelsea Faris and Chris Troutman of Medford were hard to miss.

Faris' homemade "tail feathers" were a particular challenge, she said. The absorbent cardboard took "so much paint," and there were three layers of them: orange, red and yellow.

"The hardest part was cutting it out," Faris said.

Troutman's pilgrim ensemble was far simpler, attributing it all to Amazon.com.

Last year they wore ugly sweaters in a costume Faris described as "more Christmassy." Faris said they came back because they had fun last year, plus they'll "feel better about turkey later."

Wearing chef's aprons with a gratitude-themed messages over her running gear, Tina Qualls had a less-goofy take on the Thanksgiving Day fun run.

"A small seed of gratitude will produce a harvest of hope," Qualls' apron said.

Qualls participated in the fun run with her daughter, Zoe Qualls, home from Linfield College in McMinnville for the holiday.

Zoe's apron had the message "Leftovers are for quitters."

Tina Qualls said they've participated in the run for years.

"It's just fun to do something as a family," Qualls said, adding that the fact that Zoe's home for Thanksgiving "makes it even more special."

— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.