Last year, for the first time, the Turkeython expanded from one location to three. That worked out so well that in 2017, the Turkeython spawned three more locations, bringing it to a total of six: Tualatin (Bridgeport Village); downtown Portland; Clackamas (Clackamas Town Center); Vancouver, WA (Big Al’s); Hillsboro (Liberty High School); and Yoncalla.
As you can imagine, staging a turkey trot in so many locations is logistically complicated. Uberthons’ chief timer and co-owner Alan Rasmussen oversaw everything from the Turkeython headquarters in an office above The Container Store in Bridgeport Village. Each location had its own race director(s) and timing crew.*
* How did Uberthons get so many timers? In anticipation of this hexalicious event, Uberthons begam training additional timers in advance, including with backup timing mats at earlier races such as the Halloweenathon.
I signed up for the Bridgeport Village race with a comp entry that I received as an Uberthons Ambassador. The day before Thanksgiving, I helped with prerace packet pick-up for a couple of hours. This was the second day of packet pick-up, so it wasn’t as frenzied as it was the previous year when I helped out at the very beginning of day 1. One of the nice surprises of packet pick-up this year was the free day pass for each registered runner to Skyhook Ninja Fitness aka the “American Ninja Warrior” training gym. I’m so looking forward to using mine!
On Thanksgiving Day, I got up around 7:30, and about 20 minutes later, my dad and my son and I headed off to Bridgeport Village. We arrived a little 8 a.m. and found that there was ample parking in the main structure at Bridgeport. I went up a level and then turned the direction of exiting to be able to park in the last row before leaving the structure. (I remember past years when getting out of the parking lot was the most challenging event of the day!) I needed to get out quickly this year to catch a post-race flight.
It was drizzling steadily when we lined up at the start of the race. Uberthons races are normally announced by some combination of Race Ambassador Margo Blas Glass and Race Director and Co-Owner Darwin Rasmussen, but they were away directing the downtown and Clackamas locations, respectively. In their place was the capable Alicia Rasmussen, who was also last year’s announcer at Bridgeport.
Two notable things happened while we were waiting for the start of the race. First, the rain increased steadily until it was seriously hard, to the point where I was having to shake my head periodically to get rid of the water soaking my hair. Past Turkeythons have ranged from perfectly mild to bitterly cold, but I hadn’t had to run in hard, driving rain. Yet. At least I was sort of prepared with a waterproof running jacket. Too bad I didn’t have a hat….
The other notable thing was that Alicia called for Emily Infield and Samantha Silva to come forward for a selfie with her. As in, professional runners Emily Infield and Samantha Silva!
Those of us who were at Bridgeport got to run with Olympians! Well, “with” is not quite the right word. They went to the front of the starting line, because, after all, the Uberthons credo is “fast people in front, good-looking people in back.” They started ahead of me, and finished well ahead of me, even though it was just a fun run for them.
Anyway, we started in waves, separated by about 10 seconds. I think I was in the third or fourth wave. Fortunately, the rain let up as we started running; for most of the race, it was back to the usual Portland misty drizzle.
The Bridgeport Village route looks like a trapezoid with a mouth. The straight-edge parts followed SW 72nd, Upper Boones Ferry, and Lower Boones Ferry, and the mouth part encompasses the beginning and end area around the mall. The first mile is mostly flat or downhill, the second mile starts with a steady incline, and the last mile is flat but has more than its share of turns. My left shoelace came undone early on, making me ponder whether I could make it through the entire 5K with the lace ends flapping around. If it had been farther into the race, I think I would have just kept going. As it was, I bit the bullet and stopped to re-tie it. (Another consideration was that there were multiple puddles of rainwater all over, and I didn’t want to drag my laces through them and have them not just flap around but also splatter my ankles.)
The combination of its being Thanksgiving morning – and hence very little vehicular traffic – with one entire side of each road being blocked off for the race meant that there was plenty of running room. With the rain having faded away, and the mild temperature, it was about as ideal as you could expect for late November in Oregon.
I’ve run the Bridgeport route a few times (and at previous Turkeythons, I’ve run the 10K, so each of those was a double loop), so I’m pretty familiar with it. However, when I returned to the back side of the parking lot, I discovered that there was little out and back in the lot itself. I think last year’s course was a tiny bit shy of 5K, so this must have been added to get to the correct distance. In the moment, it was unexpected, and those tight turns can be speed-sapping!
After crossing the finish line, I received a finisher’s medal, and I headed over to the water table for a cup of water. I really wish I could’ve stayed to enjoy the post-race fun (hot drinks, muffins, and more!), but as I said earlier, I had to catch a flight. (Thanksgiving Day, by the way, is a pretty good day to travel – less than usual crowds!) My Thanksgiving Day started off with hard rain and then turned into 85+ degree bright sunshine in the late afternoon in L.A….
I can’t imagine a Thanksgiving Day without the Turkeython. I would’ve liked the 10K option to have remained (although I don’t think I could have run it this year), but with the move toward so many locations and combined results, I can see why they cut it down to 5K across the board.
The downtown location is unique in that it’s an untimed* fun run, due to restrictions placed by the City of Portland in the race permit. However, the downtown location offered a number of amenities, from overhead cover at the start/finish to hot chocolate in the middle of the race course!
* Well, officially untimed. However, every runner received a free Uberthons stop watch, so even those without GPS watches were able to get a precise time record of their own.
Here’s the downtown costume winner with Santa Tom:
I really liked the concept of multiple locations for the Turkeython, and I was impressed but not surprised that Uberthons could pull it off. I picked the Clackamas Town Center location because it was the most conveniently located for me (although downtown may have been technically closer), I knew there would be plenty of easy parking, and I was very familiar with the course (through shopping at the mall frequently, not running). Plus, I wanted to be chip timed! I was curious about Uberthons’ division of labor for six separate venues with races occurring simultaneously, but I needn’t have worried as the very capable Gregg LeBlanc and his skeleton crew had things well-organized and moving smoothly and efficiently when I arrived.
The weather was intermittently rainy with a light wind, but relatively warm. Although I’d only run one race at Clackamas Town Center before, and it only used a small section of the mall parking lot, I was already oddly familiar with the two-loop course because it was eerily similar to the Washington Square Turkeython course I had run a few years ago. Despite the sense of deja vu, I still decided to take a warmup lap around the mall. The course was very well marked all the way with orange cones, and the friendly young volunteers were already deployed at the crucial turns well in advance of the start.
As we lined up for the start in customary Uberthons order (“fast people up front, good looking people at the back”), I noticed three young contenders in the front row. Feeling slightly less fast and marginally better-looking*, I settled into the second row. Gregg started the countdown, the horn sounded, and we were off, heading out of the mall courtyard and into the puddly parking lots to begin our first loop. Normally I expect some younger runners to burst immediately into a blistering pace only to begin to fade and come back to the pack, but in this instance the trio of speedsters at the front just continued to extend their gap. By the second loop they were out of sight somewhere behind Sears.
The course had a couple short hills, but the second loop cut off one of them, making the route seem slightly easier the second time around. I was a little worried about potential confusion with the change between loops, but the volunteers were great at moving the cones and standing by to clearly direct the runners. Despite the rain, hills, and feeling a little sluggish and as if I was falling off the pace, I staggered across the finish line pleasantly surprised with my time.
The 184 Clackamas finishers were greeted with huge, colorful Turkeython medals, a delicious muffin bar, hot chocolate, and a chance for a photo op with Santa and Mrs. Claus. The Clackamas Town Center version of the Turkeython was an intimate and friendly gathering of enthusiastic Uberthoners, and an excellent setting for a holiday race. I’m already looking forward to returning next year!
*Poetic license in effect here!
The Hillsboro Turkeython was located at Rock Creek Country Club, which meant REAL bathrooms and a warm, dry place for post-race festivities. We were lucky to have both the lovely and entertaining Dayna and the always comical Darwin announcing our race. Darwin started with the usual announcement “Fast people in the front, good looking people in the back” and I lined up near the front thinking there wouldn’t be very many fast people in our small race, but I was wrong! The course reminded me a lot of the Reserve (where the Halloweenathon and Luckython are held) because it was a narrow path that meanders through a golf course. The course was a lollipop shape, which meant lots of opportunities to cheer on friends and check out costumes, always a nice distraction. On the other hand, the many sharp turns were not ideal for a fast time. The warm and dry weather turned to pouring rain about the time most people finished, but there was plenty of Long Bottom coffee and muffins at the finish to warm us up. Race directors Janna and Cora did an excellent job of handling all of the details. As another nice touch, Hawthorn Farms Athletic Club offered a free post-race yoga class to the Hillsboro participants. Overall, I really enjoyed the race and was very happy to have a Turkeython on the West Side, but I wish Uberthons would bring back the 10K that they offered in previous Turkeythons! I see that next year’s Hillsboro Turkeython will be at Liberty High School, which is another great location that will allow for more participants and a faster course.
(Add me to the list of those wanting a return of the 10K!)
It might have been a cold and slightly gloomy morning for the Inaugural Turkeython in Vancouver but all the runners and walkers there were excited and ready to have fun! Everyone was excited as I was to finally have Uberthons North of the river on Thanksgiving! Plenty of parking in and around Big Al’s in Vancouver. Lots of friendly, energetic volunteers ready to check in runner and walkers.
I did my best Darwin impersonation greeting the participants and letting them know “Fast runners in the front, and good looking runners in back!” Randy Wilder took over and I get ready to run! At 8:30am we were off and running with only a little rain. Up to Mill Plain, turning right onto 15th and heading up to 192nd! Volunteers helped keep runners safe at every street. Plenty of room to run on either the sidewalk or bike path. Once we ran to Camas (192nd) we turned onto 20th and headed back to Big Als! Once back at Big Als, I cheered runners in, announced age group winners (announcing myself as the 45+ overall winner!), and got the kiddos ready for the Kids run! Santa also came over to confirm everyone was on the Nice list! Kids had a great time running around the parking lot and getting their medals and a candy cane from Santa!
All in all, a very successful 1st ever Turkeython in Vancouver!
Uberthons Ambassadors Julie and Jerry Mullins not only ran the Yoncalla Turkeython, they helped “run” it. Here’s Julie’s report:
Yoncalla Oregon: Population just over 1000, a small city just 32 miles south of Eugene! This is where we had a fabulous Thanksgiving morning! Not sure how many would show up, we did it anyway with the help of locals Amanda Stroud, Ashley Sullivan, and Michelle Collins. Uberthons came to town Wednesday and began set up. We had many locals and families from surrounding cities show up to run or walk the 5k and the kidathon. Also a good group of volunteers. We even had two show from California. On race day, we had 50 adults and 20-25 kids show up to race. Halfway through the 5k the winds and rains came but it didn’t stop anyone! Several have already asked us to have another Turkeython for 2018! Uberthons was so kind to allow this to be a fundraiser for two local clubs/school activities: Volleyball West and the Yoncalla Elementary educational D.C. trip. We definitely look forward to coming to Yoncalla again!
Results: For area-wide combined results of all 1429 chip-timed participants, click here. For individual location results:
Bridgeport (752 racers) [race directors Jenn and Heidi from Skyhook Ninja Fitness]
Clackamas (184 racers) [race directors Judie Bristow-Anderson and Jennifer Johnson-Dwyer]
Hillsboro (327 racers) [race directors Cora Kirkpatrick and Janna Nelson]
Vancouver (113 racers) [race directors Dee and Charlotte]
Yoncalla (47 racers) [race directors Jerry and Julie Mullins, and Amanda Stroud]
[There are no results for downtown Portland runners because the city’s permit did not allow official chip-timed results. The race director, who kept urging me at all previous Uberthons races beginning with the Fall event to choose the downtown location, was Margo Glass.]
Photos: For photos from the different locations:
Winners (including costume and team contests)