Turkey Trots are a fun family Thanksgiving tradition, and there seems to be one around every corner
Cornucopia of trots in Carbondale, Basalt and Rifle on Thanksgiving
I’d seen the tell-tale signs of some neighborhood fun on my day-after-Thanksgiving run while visiting family in Golden a few years ago — white chalk leading around a street corner marking the way.
So, when we planned a return trip over the rivers and through the woods of Colorado’s high country to the Front Range for Thanksgiving in 2019, I inquired with my brother-in-law about what I figured must be a local turkey trot.
He did some asking-around and, sure enough, learned that a neighbor a few blocks over organized a small, word-of-mouth, very informal turkey day run on Thanksgiving morning each year — complete with bacon, doughnuts, coffee and even bloody marys and BYO beer at the finish line.
We conspired to join in the holiday shenanigans, and it turned into one of the more memorable turkey trot experiences I’ve ever had.
I’ve done a lot of them, from many a Turkey Day 5K on “The Hill” (Glenwood Springs Golf Course), to the lower-key Carbondale Turkey Trot, and even Colorado’s premier Thanksgiving Day run, the Mile High United Way Turkey Trot in Denver’s Washington Park, which attracts thousands of runners.
All are unique in their own way, but you can always count on people in turkey costumes or wearing turkey hats or feathers, maybe even a pumpkin pie outfit or two.
I’ve never seen anyone dressed as cranberry sauce, though.
In 2019, it had snowed pretty good a few days before, so the streets of northeast Golden were caked with a layer of packed snow and ice. Once the course wound up out of the neighborhood and onto a single track trail along the flank of South Table Mountain, we were breaking trail through about a foot of snow — well, at least the front runners were.
Back at the finish line, we ate, and drank, then headed back to the house to help cook, eat and drink some more before collapsing on the couch for some football watching.
The perfect Thanksgiving Day.
Many families, along with lots of hard-core and recreational runners, have carved out a Thanksgiving morning or weekend tradition by running a turkey trot in their community, or wherever it is they’re visiting for the holiday.
Locally, trots are scheduled to take place on Thanksgiving Day next week in Carbondale, Basalt and Rifle, all starting at 9:30 a.m. Anytime Fitness between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, also hosts its third Burn the Turkey 5K on the Friday after, at 10 a.m. on the Rio Grande Trail behind the gym.
One of the bigger events, Glenwood Springs’ Turkey Day 5K, is taking a hiatus for a second-straight year due to lingering concerns about larger gatherings in the relatively tight quarters at the golf course.
Nevertheless, co-founder Mike Vidakovich said he plans to take part in one of the other area trots next week.
“But it won’t be the same,” he said.
Vidakovich and longtime Glenwood Springs Golf Course Superintendent Jim Richmond started the Turkey Day 5K “on a whim” in 1986.
“The very first one we had 17 runners at the golf course and brother Bob Wiley and Linda Young were the inaugural winners,” Vidakovich said.
Wiley, who died a few years ago, and trot regular Jack Green even gave a traditional holiday blessing from the roof of the old clubhouse.
“The Turkey Day 5K was Thanksgiving to me,” said Vidakovich, who has run the race every year it has taken place. In more recent years, the race has served as a benefit for the Glenwood Springs High School swimming and cross country teams.
“It’s always been part of my spiritual fiber,” he said.
Vidakovich vividly remembers one year when legendary local runner Paul Driscoll showed up several months after having been badly hurt when he was hit by a car while running, and walked the course with his granddaughter.
Just this month, Runner’s World magazine wrote about the history of the turkey trot, and how it has become one of the most popular race days in America.
“The inaugural trot took place 125 years ago in Buffalo, New York,” writer Jenny McCoy notes. “The local YMCA hosted an 8K cross-country race that Thanksgiving Day, drawing just six participants — and only four of them made it to the finish line.”
The event has continued every year since, even during the pandemic last year with a limited field of 125 runners, making it the oldest continuous footrace in North America, according to the Runner’s World article.
Even so, running a footrace on Thanksgiving morning isn’t such an eastern U.S. thing, notes Andrea Chacos of Carbondale, who grew up in Connecticut.
One year, while she and avid runner husband Charlie Chacos were visiting her family for the holiday, she said Charlie located a 5K turkey trot nearby.
She signed the whole family up, much to their chagrin.
“My brother never ran again,” she said. “But what a great way to start the weekend of debauchery. And, where else can you where a turkey hat, for god’s sake?”
Those turkey hats and other accessories won the Chacos family, including their now teenaged children, the costume contest at the Carbondale Turkey Trot a few years ago.
It’s now become an annual family tradition.
“The pushback is a little stronger now that they’re teenagers,” Chacos acknowledged. “But I just tell them if they want to eat later, they have to hang with mom and dad for the morning turkey trot.
“It’s just a nice way to set the tone for a day that’s supposed to be about family,” she said.
Where to trot
Carbondale Turkey Trot 5K or 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk: 9:30 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 25, Carbondale Recreation and Community Center, 567 Colorado Ave., (race day registration starts at 9 a.m., or register online). Costume prizes, swag and a photo booth. More info at carbondalerec.com
Basalt Elementary School annual Gobble Wobble 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk: 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 25, BES, 151 Cottonwood Dr., (race day registration starts at 8:30 a.m. on site, or in advance online). The event serves as a fundraiser for STEM education at BES. Raffle prizes and more. Info at bit.ly/basaltgobble
Rifle High School Turkey Trot 5K: Little Gobblers run at 9:15 a.m., Big Gobblers at 9:30 a.m., Thursday, Nov. 25, Deer Field Park, 300 E. 30th St., Rifle. The event serves as a fundraiser for the RHS track team. Info at raceplace.com/Rifle High School Turkey Trot.
Anytime Fitness Burn the Turkey 5K: 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 26, 7025 Colorado Highway 82, Glenwood Springs. Canned food and cash donations go to LIFT-UP for its food assistance programs. Enjoy a beer at Ball Brewery afterwards. Check out their Facebook page for more info.
Elsewhere around the region/state: Eagle Vail Turkey Trot; Frisco Turkey Day 5K; Steamboat Springs Turkey Trot; Buena Vista Turkey Trot; Durango Turkey Trot; Pagosa Springs Turkey Trot 5K; Mile High United Way Turkey Trot 4 Miler; Boulder Thanksgiving Day 5K; Louisville Turkey Trot; Bailey Turkey Trot; Broomfield Turkey Day 5K/10K; Fitness Avenue Turkey Trot 5K, Johnstown; Fort Collins Thanksgiving Day Run; Littleton Gobble Wobble Run; Gravy Boat 5K, Denver; High Plains Turkey Trot, Sterling; Highlands Ranch Turkey Day 5K; Loveland Turkey Trot; Parker Turkey Day 5K; Pilgrimage Run, Erie; Turkey ROCK Trot, Castle Rock; YMCA Pueblo Turkey Trot; Estes Park YMCA of the Rockies Turkey Trot 5K; Colorado Springs YMCA Turkey Trot 5K.
More information on these and other Thanksgiving weekend footraces here [runningintheusa.com]
Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or email@example.com.
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