There are so many great-sounding turkey trots in the Portland metro area, but the Turkeython has always been my Thanksgiving Day race. After being staged at Cook Park, Beaverton Square, and Washington Square Mall in past years, the Turkeython has settled into Bridgeport Village since 2013.
Well, this year, it spawned additional locations at Clackamas Town Center and downtown Portland. Each location offered something enticing, but Bridgeport was the only one that offered a 10K race option, so that is the one I signed up for. (If nothing else, I am a creature of habit.)
Packet pickup: As I did last year, I helped out with packet pickup, which took place in the empty space next to Peet’s Coffee at Bridgeport Village. There was a line out the door when I arrived a little past noon on Tuesday – no doubt due to the fact that Uberthons socks and beanies were promised while supplies lasted. I squeezed in past the crowd, letting people know that I was there to volunteer. “Put me to work,” I told Uberthons’ director/timer Alan Rasmussen. The next 40 or so minutes went by in a blur of assigning bib numbers to race registrants and directing the ones who’d paid for event shirts to the merchandise table, to be helped by other volunteers. Eventually the line dwindled away, and I was able to assign bib numbers for my family members and myself.
Race Day: The forecast for Thanksgiving morning was rain with temperatures in the high 40s. Of the previous five Turkeythons that I’ve run, the weather had been mild twice (2011 and 2012), frigid once (2013), and cold and misty twice (2014 and 2015). Given that, it turned out as decently as could be expected. It was a cold morning, but not so cold that I felt the need for running tights. I did put on a longsleeve Columbia Sportswear omni-heat tech shirt as a baselayer, with a classic Uberthons tech shirt over that for pinning the race bib.
It rained steadily during the drive to Bridgeport Village, but it was the kind of rainfall that seems heavier than it really is because the car goes faster than runners do. Traffic was obviously no problem at all. And despite something like 1200 registered runners at the Bridgeport location (and around 1800 at all three locations), there was plenty of parking in the main lot.
The race crew and volunteers had done a great job of setting up the course and timing equipment. By 8:15 a.m., with 15 minutes before the start of the race, there was a large crowd piling into the start queue area.
With usual race announcer/director Darwin Rasmussen out in Clackamas, the announcing duties at Bridgeport were handled ably and enthusiastically by Alicia Rasmussen.
I knew that once I started running, I’d feel relatively comfortable (temperature-wise, that is), but it was actually fairly tolerable standing there while waiting for the race to start. Of course, I found myself in the middle of the pack, so I was sheltered in all directions in two dimensions by other runners.
According the my Garmin GPS watch, I started running at 8:33 a.m. (my delayed start stemming from my being in the middle of the pack, with runners being sent in waves); it was 52 degrees with a 13 mph south wind. Because runners didn’t exactly sort themselves by the informal Uberthons rules of “fast people in front, good looking people in back,” I found myself fortunately restrained from going out too fast in the beginning.
Apart from the opening segment in the mall itself, the Bridgeport Turkeython course is a simple parallelogram, with an overall downhill grade for the first mile, uphill grade for the second mile, and flat profile for the last mile. It was entirely marked by orange cones and staffed by flaggers at key intersections, with water available at an aid station about halfway through the loop as well as at the start/finish. It’s always been a festive event, and while it doesn’t have the same percentage of costumed runners as, say, the Halloweenathon, there were more than a few people dressed up as turkeys.
As I was finishing the first 5K, announcer Alicia Rasmussen called out “Runner number 299, finishing strong!”
I yelled back, “Actually, I’m not done!”
“Actually, he’s not done!” she announced.
Whereas the initial half of the course had been crowded for me and the second half thinned out considerably during the first 5K, the situation was reversed for the second time through. I didn’t manage negative splits, but I was only about 30 seconds slower in the second half of the race compared to the first half. I was especially pleased to see that I’d run the course nearly two minutes faster than I had last year. And as proof that running runs in the family, I finished #3 in the male 45+ category for the 10K, and my dad finished #2 in the male 65+ category for the 10K.
Uberthons seems to have good luck when it comes to weather. After most of the racers had finished – but not the kids in the 1 mile and the untimed fun run – the rain started to come down harder, and from what I gather, the crew and volunteers got soaked while cleaning up. But I think the participants in the race enjoyed what turned out to be fairly decent running weather, and a race that was staged in the usual uber-competent Uberthons way. Good course, good support, nice and heavy finisher’s medal, and a warm sheltered area to get out of the cold.
Bonus coverage!: Obviously I could not be in two places at once, but Uberthons Ambassador/semi-regular announcer/all-around awesome runner Margo Blas Glass was there and had these thoughts to share:
The inaugural Downtown Waterfront location was a hit! Approximately 500 runners braved the whipping winds and impending rain to run this course for this first time. The race started and ended under the Morrison Bridge, which was great to have as a shelter from that unpredictable Thanksgiving Day weather. While the wind spared nothing at the starters’/finishers’ village – blowing most of the set-up down before the start – the unrelenting rain we saw most of the day was kind and mostly held off until after the race. Runners and walkers were in great holiday spirit as they were counted down and “Ho Ho Ho’d” off to start by Santa Claus himself.The race crossed Naito Parkway and proceeded over the Morrison Bridge to the East Esplanade where runners were directed south toward the Tillikum Bridge. Volunteers were placed along the entire 5k route in bright orange vests and equipped with flags, as this is a course that has many restrictions when it comes to markings. The telltale red Überthons clapboard arrow markings were at the ready as well. No one seemed to be confused as to which direction to go. After crossing the Tillikum Bridge, participants were greeted by the OHSU building with a water station and hot cocoa! After refreshing, everyone headed up SW Moody until they were directed back onto the waterfront at SW River Parkway. Again, volunteers were at every possible turn to make sure everyone was confident in their direction. The race ended by heading up the waterfront all the way back to the Morrison Bridge, where each runner was announced as they crossed the finish. The wind calmed down enough that the 16′ inflatable “Tom the Turkey” was able to join the party and greet everyone returning.
Those participating in the event were thrilled with the new location, the course, Santa, and the shelter of the bridge! We’ve heard nothing but positive comments for this race and so many eager to do it again next year with even more friends!
I shouldn’t forget to mention that our kids’ 1/2-ish mile race was led by Miranda Yancy after our requisite starter line selfie with Santa. Santa cheered those kiddos along and the faces were priceless! Fun was had by all! We can’t wait for next year where we expect even greater numbers. Not to worry though, as you know, Überthons always makes sure all participants have enough space to run comfortably with staggered start waves and overall event caps.
Results: For full race results for the Bridgeport 5K and 10K races, click here. For the 5K results for the Clackamas location, click here. Due to conditions set by the city of Portland in issuing the race permit, the downtown location had an untimed fun run, so there are no race results.
Photos: For pictures from the Bridgeport races, click here. For pictures from the Clackamas race, click here. For pictures from the downtown race, click here (Uberthons) and here (Lester Tsai Photography).
Disclosure: I’m a 2016 Uberthons Ambassador and received a comp entry to this race.