For the past 5 Thanksgivings, I have habitually participated in the Springfield Turkey Stuffer, by Willamalane Park and Recreation District in Springfield, Oregon. This year, I decided to stray from the norm and participate in the Turkey Trot Eugene. I was excited to try my own city’s event, and not stray to the Springfield race for once.
As I had to work on Wednesday, 11/26, I asked my husband if he would be gracious enough to pick-up my race bib and event shirt at the pre-race packet pick-up. On our event registration form, we were able to select when and where we wanted to pick-up our race bibs; you could select the Wednesday, 11/26 option at either Eugene Running Company or Food for Lane County, or you could elect to pick-up your packet race morning. Having two pre-race packet pick-up locations was fantastic! Thank you!
The Turkey Trot Eugene event started at Valley River Center, so I knew parking would not be an issue. The 4 mile run was advertised to start at 9 a.m., with the 2 mile walk beginning at 9:10 a.m. I arrived and was parked, and to the start line area, by 8:35 a.m. Super speedy and super easy, with friendly volunteers leading you to the right area to park. After jogging a short bit from my parking spot to the start area, I noticed immediately the line for same day packet pick-up was … really long. I tried to steer clear of the area as it was really congested. I found a spot by the start line to mingle with folks until announcements were made for runners to line up to race. Music was playing, albeit it was very quiet, and there were limited race announcements. The start line felt … too quiet. Something was missing.
Approximately 5 minutes before the 9 a.m. start, an announcement came through for runners to line up and get ready to run. It was great seeing so many families out and people of all ages participating. I noticed a lot of walkers – walkers I was pretty sure intended to be in the 2 mile walk that had a 10 minute later start – lining up at the start line with the runners. The announcements were few and far between, and pretty quiet, so likely a lot of participants did not hear. I was even having a difficult time hearing the announcements, and I was near the first third of racers lined up.
9 a.m. rolled by. An announcement (too quiet to hear). 9:05 a.m. clicked by. An announcement about folks still picking up their race packets and we would start shortly. 9:10 a.m. sauntered by. People were booing in line behind me, and the couple lined up next to me said if the race didn’t start in the next 60 seconds they were leaving, mentioning we all had chips, so everyone would have their true race time recorded anyway, regardless of if they were still getting their packets or not, so let us get going they were urging. 9:12:25 … the announcement that we were going to get to race came through! Applause erupted from the crowd! Yay!
There was not a staggered start and/or pace corrals, so the first bit of the race was like a Los Angeles freeway at rush hour. The course started by leading us through the Valley River Center parking lot, which provided room for runners to go about 10-12 abreast. About two tenths of a mile later we were on the Alton Baker Park multi-use paths, which accommodate 3 runners abreast, four if you are lucky. The 9:30 pace I was gearing towards settling into quickly went to 11:40 pace, as there was just not enough room for runners to jockey for position, and there were simply too many of us on the course all at once – the multi-use path just couldn’t handle the traffic.
Thankfully, once we arrived to the Peter DeFazio pedestrian bridge, which was just shy of the 2 mile mark, it started to thin out so runners had some room, and the jockeying for position calmed down quite a bit. Also, some wonderful volunteers were staged outside of Campbell Center thanking the runners for participating, for supporting Food for Lane County (race proceeds benefitted) and handing out water. Thank you volunteers!
The last 2 miles were pretty uneventful – everyone was looking forward to crossing over the final pedestrian bridge to get back to the finish line. Again, friendly volunteers abound helping to guide racers along the course.
Having endured the rainy four mile trek along the Alton Baker multi-use paths, it was nice to get back onto the Valley River Center parking lot and zip to the finish line. We were all pretty wet out there! Walkers and runners merged together for the final tenth or so of a mile, but there was ample room for all of us to go our respective paces and cross the finish line.
After finishing, I headed over to the race results area. Now, I knew I wasn’t going to get an age group medal, but I wanted to get my race results print out. It was very nice that they were handing out overall and age group awards for this race. Seeing another long line, similar to the long packet pick-up lines, I decided to not wait for it. There was good post race food a drink available to runners and walkers, and although I did not have any, many racers were enjoying the post race fare. It looked like pizza (yummy!) was being offered.
Granted, most if not all turkey trots are meant to be a family affair, and not super competitive. They are for fun, and most are ‘fundraisers’ for community causes. I completely get that. The Turkey Trot Eugene was a good event for families, and non-seasoned racers to participate in. But, there were some hiccups significant enough for me to consider it purely a fun run. However, for a fun run, a family event, a time to get together and exercise, burn some calories, and enjoy being around friends and family, the Turkey Trot Eugene did a fine job in those categories. For the athlete trying to get a first place finish or PR, not the best race to run in – but again, most Turkey Trots are not meant for this type of runner.
Just some minor tweaking, mainly, an on time start and a staggered start, would have made the Turkey Trot Eugene a wonderful event.
Check out the official race results here. There were some speedy folks out there today! Great job!
Thumbs Up: Pre- and post- race logistics, such as ease of parking and porta-pottie lines, were great. The event tech shirt was long sleeved and nice. Great registration price. Different courses for the 4 mile run and 2 mile walk. Great family friendly event.
Thumbs Down: 12+ minute late start. No pace corrals to line up in. A non-staggered race start, which lead to a lot of congestion on the course/jostling for position, very long same day packet pick-up lines and long lines for race results (I didn’t stick around for mine). Lack of energy at the start and finish line, and difficult to hear pre-race announcements.