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Race Recap: 2018 HTC Turkey Trot Relay & 5k (Portland International Raceway)

With so many Turkey Trots to choose from in Oregon, it’s nice to have an option that’s a little different than the typical race, and the 2018 HTC Turkey Trot Relay & 5k will offer you that. For one, this race occurs the evening BEFORE Thanksgiving, so you won’t have it interfering in turkey morning festivities. Running in the dark is a true benefit to this race because it’s at Portland International Raceway, which means you get treated to the amazing holiday lights which are a holiday season attraction in Portland. Any other time, you need to drive on the race track to view this lightshow, but this is the one occasion where you can do it on foot. Even if you aren’t a runner, you can come out and stroll along the track with your children and pets and enjoy the lights at your own pace without worrying about traffic.

If you are a runner, (which you maybe are if you’re reading this now,) the backdrop is magical. Even the biggest grinch will dread Black Friday traffic and pine needles in the carpet a little less after seeing the 12 Days of Christmas in a light display. And the fact that there’s a relay option is even better because you can do it with friends or family, which is sorta what Thanksgiving is all about.

This was the second year that I participated in the relay and it’s quickly becoming a new holiday tradition for me. This year I opted to run with a few of my running clients, as they are relatively new to running and this race is a great opportunity for people that aren’t putting in significant milage yet. The entire relay is flat since it’s all on a track, and every runner has to run a little less than 2 miles twice. I can’t think of a better way to get people excited about running since community is a huge motivator for new runners to stick with it. If you have the right group of people surrounding you, it’s a blast.

You get a lot with your registration for this race as well. This year we got a coffee mug (which was a nice high quality one,) a t-shirt, a bag of rolls, and after the race, you get an entire pumpkin pie and a free beer. Last year I was disappointed because they ran out of pumpkin pies before I could get mine, and I had actually written in a suggestion to make the pie a tear-off option on the race bib since I suspected a lot of people just hanging out on the track (ie not registered for the race) were snagging the pies. I was stoked to see that they did opt to put the tear-off on the bib this year, so I got my pie secured right away. Free grilled cheese bites too.. yummy!

The 5k was supposed to start at 7:00PM and the relay was to start at 7:05. However, the raceway was really backed up with traffic coming in and since so many were still parking when 7:00 came, they pushed back the start time. This part of the race was really chaotic and a bit overwhelming. There was a sea of people, lots of kids, strollers, and dogs, plus all of the vendors and food trucks. We couldn’t hear anything that the announcer was trying to say, but we finally figured out that they had decided to start the relay and 5k at the same time due to the delay. This made it difficult for runner 1 of the relay to navigate the track. There was a lot of weaving and waiting for other runners to clear out of the way, but once a little time had passed and the 5k runners took off down their designated path, it got much easier.

Relay teams are only 4 members and I ran last. I was able to cheer all my teammates on and hang out at the track with all our fellow other runners in the cold. We were actually very lucky this year because it didn’t rain at all, so we just put on some layers and were good to go. The nice thing about relays is that you can bundle up and then shed your gear and leave them behind with your teammates while you run.  The car was also not very far away in case anyone wanted to hang out there with the heat cranked, but no one on our team felt the need to do so. With all the vendors and food trucks, the environment was cheery and fun. No one was in danger of getting bored.

Relays, of course, take longer than the more traditional races and there’s a lot of standing around, but it all goes very quickly for this event. Since there are only 4 people and the “legs” of the race are only 2 miles, the majority of runners will get each completed in less than a half hour. Before we knew it, we were done and getting our free beers and headed for the car to head home. Everyone had a lot of fun and felt ready to tackle Thanksgiving morning.

If you choose to do this relay, I’d say my best advice is to arrive early and bring plenty of clothes. Also you should plan to get home late unless you opt for the 5k, which many others do.  Other than that, just have lots of fun and enjoy your pumpkin pie!!

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About Nikki Mueller (344 Articles)
I'm the owner of Healthy Girl Fitness and I'm a personal trainer, certified AFAA group exercise instructor, and an RRCA certified running coach in SW Portland. I am also the mother of two young boys and am on the board at my youngest son's school. I led a relatively inactive life throughout my 20's until I discovered the world of fitness and running. I ran my first marathon in 2006 and haven't looked back since.

1 Comment on Race Recap: 2018 HTC Turkey Trot Relay & 5k (Portland International Raceway)

  1. My friends and I ran the 5k. Yes the start was very chaotic. I’d wished they’d opted for a stagger start, with walkers, strollers, small kids, and dogs towards the back of the pack. That said, I ran a pretty good race and had fun with friends! And the mug is the bomb!!!

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