Location: North Wales, Pennsylvania
Start Time: 8:00 AM
I’ve participated in numerous 5k races, but never a Turkey Trot. These races fall on Thanksgiving Day (US) and although there are a few different names for these races like the Drumstick Dash, Fast before you feast, and the Gobble Gallop, they all are incredibly fun! The course was simple, but the area was beautiful. This event was not only about bringing friends and family together, but it was also to get people outdoors and enjoy the area they live in. There were around 2,000 runners and walkers for the race (split between 5k, 8k, 2 mile walk, and 1/2 mile kids fun run). I had to add this race to my must run list and I’m glad that I did.
The sun was shining the morning of the race, but at a cool 28° F and a head wind it made for a very chilly start. Checking the local forecast the night before, I knew that it was going to be a cold race, so I made sure I layered correctly. I had on sweat pants and a hoodie to stay warm while walking to the event from the parking lot, but then I utilized the bag check a few minutes before the start to shed some layers. For the race I decided to wear my cold gear compression pants from Under Armour, as well as a long sleeve compression t-shirt with a wicking short sleeve t-shirt over that. A hat and gloves were also necessary for this race.
I was flying solo for this race and I decided it was a good idea to get to the starting area around 6:45. I was a little early, as the roads were not fully blocked off, but this gave me a chance to scope out the area and the course before the start. I stretched out after doing a brief warmup then checked out the tent areas where last-minute registration was taking place and where the post race goodies were.
Prior to the start of any race there’s usually a few things that happen. Everyone rushes to the bathrooms, last-minute strides from runners, as well as having the national anthem played and sung by someone. This race was a little different other than people still rushing to the bathrooms. The crew at Scoogie Events had something special up their sleeve. They had a special guest appearance by Santa Claus riding in on a fire truck. I thought this was a nice touch to the start of the race, although it was still a little early to be starting Christmas celebrations. After Santa made his debut, there was a trumpet solo for the national anthem which was really impressive.
As soon as the national anthem was finished, the races were beginning to start. The 8k race went out first with a 5 minute head start, then the 5k. The course was a mix of flat and hilly areas, but mainly on the flat side. Within the first 800m of the race, everyone was welcomed to a very cold headwind. Since this course was on a major 4 lane road, this had to be expected.
Since this race had a simple up and back route, I was curious to know how the turn around point would work for the 5k runners. If you weren’t paying attention running the 8k, you could have easily ran into the area with cones and gotten turned around and finished with the 5k runners. There could have been a clearer way to show this to runners during the race in the event someone did go the wrong way. After a slow incline for the first half, you were met with the first fluid station. For me, I avoided it because this was a shorter race and I didn’t need it. I kept a close eye on the front pack (who were a good 400m ahead of me) as I hit the turnaround point. I wanted to make sure I kept my pace and had enough time to catch up. The back half of the race had a few downhills which made me open up my stride a little bit to catch up to a runner I was tailing since the beginning. Closing in on the last 800m, we were met with a slight uphill right before the finish line. This last little bit of the race was a bit of a struggle, but nothing that I hadn’t planned for ahead of time in my training. There were tons of spectators cheering on the finishers and Santa was giving runners a high-five right before crossing the finish line.
After being awarded a finisher medal the food/refreshments tent was open for all finishers. Coffee, hot chocolate, bagels, and the coveted banana were waiting for the runners. One added bonus was a post race mimosa as a celebratory drink.
After everyone had finished the race the award ceremony, race results, and podiums were being set up. Something odd occurred right before the ceremony though which I’ve never experienced. There was an announcement that was made stating that there were not enough medals for every finisher. If anyone didn’t want their medal, they could place it on a table for someone who really wanted one. I was a bit confused when this announcement was made wondering how this could have happened. In the end, some runners did in fact give up their medal to others who really wanted one, but I think this is something that should be resolved in the next year.
After announcing the top 3 male and female finishers, they moved onto the top 3 male and female finishers in each age bracket. There were different age brackets this year for the race working in 5 year increments instead of 10 years. They started with the 5k working down from the oldest to youngest male and female. I was really excited for the ceremony as this was the first 5k I had raced in a couple of years. After running with the front pack for most of the race and sticking to my training plan the weeks prior to the race, I came home with a win in my age bracket and 7th overall in the race!
This was a quick holiday race with cold running temperatures. I felt so relieved at the end of the race because I could then spend the rest of the day relaxing and enjoying our Thanksgiving Day feast. I would definitely recommend Turkey Trot races to new and experienced runners because they are about bringing people together during the holidays. Did anyone else run a Thanksgiving Day race this past week? If so, let me know what you thought!