For many years now I have been trying to motivate my family to join me in running a race on Thanksgiving morning, but many times other plans got in the way. This year, however, I signed everybody up for The Great Turkey Fumble run in Newberg, which promised to be a family friendly, casual event. Thanksgiving morning was cold, but dry and sunny, when we made our way to the Newberg High school. We arrived about half an hour before the start, and there was plenty of parking left, and the line for bib pickup was quick. Runners were gathering on the football field, where the start line was set up, and we were able to make a quick pit stop at the (indoor, heated, running water!) restrooms before joining the group.
The announcer had given several updates as we were nearing the race start, and after a 10 second countdown, we were off. There had been no published course map, and the description given by the announcer was not very useful to someone unfamiliar with the local businesses and landmarks, but thankfully as a middle-of-the-pack runner there is little danger of getting lost. The first half mile of the course took us on quiet neighborhood street, and when we were turning left onto Springbrook and had to stick to the sidewalks, the group of nearly 200 runners had stretched out considerably.
Soon we came to the first check-in point where we were handed our (youth size) football to take on the rest of the run with us. Another half mile later came the first game: The Turkey Back Throwing Challenge. You had a chance to try to through your football through one of three targets set up at different distances. If you made it, you earned yourself a checkmark on your bib. Near the halfway point of the race was also an aid station offering water and pumpkin pie bites! Soon after came the next game: The Wide Pilgrim Catching Challenge, where a race volunteer would throw your ball to you as you keep going on the race course. This station did not have a scorekeeper to mark your bib.
From there, we retraced our steps and returned towards the high school stadium the same way we came. Along the way I encountered two young teens without footballs (maybe the event had run out of balls?) and I passed my ball on to one of them. When I returned to the stadium, it was not entirely clear how I was to make my way to the finish line. A volunteer told me to “run around that way,” but I missed the fact that it was to be a whole lap, then a length of the football field to the final “Kick it on the Mayflower” kicking challenge before running down the field one more time to the finish line.
At the finish line there was a raffle drawing for items donated by many local businesses. Water and bananas were laid out back by the packet pickup tent at the entrance of the stadium, and there were many leftover as we walked by to get to our car. They would have been easier to find had they been closer to the finish line. We didn’t quite figure out what to do with our football challenge game results, but it was fun to have an untimed, fun event with some throwing games to break up the time. The event raised over $3,000 for FISH, Newberg’s food bank, and in the end that is what really matters.
The Great Turkey Fumble was a fun event, especially if you have non-runners in your running group who will be entertained by the games. Photos are posted on the event Facebook page.