Judy Graham-Garcia always wears a festive costume for the annual Portland Thanksgiving Day 4-Miler. This year, her turkey suit doubled as an extra layer.

“I have my winter running stuff on underneath,” she said.

Most runners needed a few more feathers as they braved the city’s coldest Thanksgiving on record.

The National Weather Service reported that Portland hit a low temperature of 6 degrees Thursday, beating the previous record for Thanksgiving from 1989 by one degree, and the previous record for Nov. 22 from 1972 by seven degrees.

Record lows were reached in various locations across Maine on Thursday, including 4 degrees in Augusta, which beat its Thanksgiving record from 1978 by four degrees, and its Nov. 22 record from 1979 by five degrees.

As the racers made their way down Congress Street shortly after 9 a.m., the neon number on the nearby Time & Temperature Building registered just 10 degrees. The high for the day was just 17 degrees in Portland, breaking another record from 1979.


The thermometer dropped even lower in other parts of Maine – like 10 below in Jackman. Adding to the chill, winds gusted above 40 mph in some parts of the state as well.

But the annual race through downtown Portland has gone on for 37 years, and volunteers estimated that as many as 1,500 runners signed up despite the forecast.

Graham-Garcia, 58, said she couldn’t miss an annual tradition. She was running for the sixth year with her boyfriend, Adam Nisson, and her daughter, Caitlin Garcia. They traveled from Ipswich, Massachusetts, to visit her son in Portland.

“He’s cooking,” Graham-Garcia said of her son. “We bought the wine.”

Amanda Benner of Portland decided this would be the year she ran a Thanksgiving Day race for the first time. She signed herself and her husband up for the 4-miler before they knew the forecast. She decided the cold would not sway her from her plans – or her turkey leg hat.

“I bought my husband a full-blown turkey costume,” she said and laughed. “But it’s too cold. He won’t wear it. He’s not too impressed I dragged him here.”


Also in plush turkey hats were Matt and April Sither of Scarborough. The couple sign up for one race every month, and they’re in their fourth year of their streak. They ran a Valentine’s Day race in the snow once, they recalled, but this race wins for lowest temperature.

“It’s inevitable we have some cold ones,” Matt Sither, 36, said.

They were still feeling festive, though.

“I listen to Christmas music while I run,” April Sither, 37, said.

Fair-weather runners should expect a warmer weekend. The forecast calls for single digits again overnight, but Friday morning should begin the upward trend.

“We’re going to get a wind shift starting Friday,” said Derek Schroeter, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service station in Gray. “Highs will remain below freezing, but it looks like upper 20s for the coast. And Saturday, we are looking at getting above freezing everywhere.”

In the meantime, Schroeter advised only going outside with proper clothing – ideally more than a turkey suit.


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