By Rachel Wulff

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – The annual Run to Feed the Hungry returned this Thanksgiving. It drew tens of thousands of participants who raised around $1 million at a time when it’s really needed.

It was a race to return to what so many enjoy missed Thanksgiving Day.

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“It feels like it should,” said one man as he finished.

The 28th annual Run to Feed the hungry drew more than 26,000 people in person near Sac State after COVID prompted the event to go virtual last year.

‘I motivated him; I set the pace,” said one teen with a group of friends.

The fundraiser brought in nearly $1 million for the Sacramento Food Bank.  Every dollar donated equals five meals, but it’s the fanfare and revelry leading up to it that so many enjoy. There were lots of tutus and turkey hats.

“This year it’s not raining, but it has rained before and it’s kept me dry — it’s awesome…my own little umbrella,” said one woman with a tray on her head with a turkey on top.

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Many teams turned out.

“We’re her running buddies. Fleet Feet…there is a bunch of us here,” said one man.

A group from the UC Davis Medical Center Fitness Program were dancing to keep warm.

“Some are instructors, some are members of the program, and there’s of us out here to run and keep our fitness up on thanksgiving,” said their supervisor.

Other state agencies were there and some co-workers saw each other for the first time since the pandemic.

Participants had to be vaccinated or test negative for COVID in the last 72 hours. It’s all worth it, say those who’ve missed the madness that makes this turkey day tradition.

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“Normal. It feels like we’re back to normal, which is great!” said one participant.