Race Report: Trot Off Your Turkey 5K Turkey Trot

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Great T-Shirt design at the Trot Off Your Turkey 5K. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

The Trot Off Your Turkey 5K in Barrington, R.I., in Saturday, November 30 was, I’m amazed to say, my very first Turkey Trot in seven years of racing.

It was a fantastic local event with 637 runners in the 5K and 229 in the 1.5-mile run/walk. I loved everything about this race, from the flat course and bountiful post-race spread to the great T-shirt design and warm, community vibe.

It was 28 degrees at the start, so my husband, Phil, and I bundled up for a brisk run on a cloudless, blue-sky day.

A food drive and raffle raised money for TapIn, an all-volunteer, outreach program that provides food, clothing, household goods, transportation and other services to local residents in need.

The main event was a fundraiser for St. Luke’s School, where the race was held. Bib pick-up and the raffle were inside the school gym, which I very much appreciated since it was so cold outside.

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The race raised money for St. Luke’s School. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

I’d pre-purchased six raffle tickets with my registration. You got to choose which items you wanted to draw for. A table with all the items sat in a corner of the gym with buckets in front of each to put your tickets in.

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The raffle benefited TapIn, a local food bank and community outreach organization. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

As I got my tickets, organizers were calling runners out to the start, so I hurriedly placed my tickets in a few buckets without completely reading what they were for.

Then Phil and I dashed off to the start, where we were toward the back of the pack. The horn blasted as soon as we got there.

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We’re ready to run! (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

There were no timing chips. Runners were timed the old-fashioned way. The gun time, not net, is your final time. At the finish, you’re shuttled into a single-file chute, where a race official takes a rip-off tab from the bottom of your bib and places it in order on a spike. A timer stands at the finish, writing down bib numbers and finish times.

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The course map and results. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

The course was flat and fast as promised with a start and finish at St. Luke’s Church and School, touring runners around a lake and quiet residential streets.

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Runners Trot Off Their Turkey in Rhode Island. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

I started my watch with the horn, but we didn’t actually cross the start for 10-15 seconds. Since I started at the back of the pack, I spent the entire race passing people. It’s such a mental boost, rather than being passed. Being in the back also helped me start slowly and ease into a good clip.

By the 1-mile mark, I was pushing hard and it actually felt good. There were no mile-markers on the course so I just checked my watch every so often.

At two miles, a volunteer was on the side of the road calling out times. With one mile to go, I knew I was in personal record territory, so I pushed just a bit harder as I saw the church and school come into sight.

I crossed the finish in 24:46 at a 7:59 pace, which is a new 5K PR. I am deliriously happy with that.

Turkey Trot

The Trot Off Your Turkey 5K and 1.5-mile run was my first Turkey Trot. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

Earlier this summer, I ran a 3-mile PR of 23:22 at a 7:47 pace at the end of a triathlon, but I was almost certain the course was a bit short at 2.9 miles. So my pace there was really 8:03. Still a PR—my previous 5K PR was 26:45—but not quite sub-8 pace.

The Trot Off Your Turkey 5K was a measured 3.1 miles, and my GPS watch actually agreed. So pace over pace, this topped even my 3-mile effort this summer.

Considering I didn’t even cross the start right away, I know my net time was even faster that 24:46. Plus, I had more gas left in the tank. I didn’t finish this race redlining as I have done a few times this year.

It feels good to end the year on a high. It also confirms what I already knew: I’m a much stronger 5K and 10K runner than half-marathoner and marathoner.

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Turkey Soup! (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

With the finish line behind me, I headed into the gym for some post-race turkey soup. It was warm and delicious with big chunks of white meat.

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Yum! (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

Plus, there were doughnuts, muffins, bagels, pizza, bananas, oranges, chips, salsa—a truly impressive spread.

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Some of the post-race spread. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

I checked the raffle winners to discover that I won! When I was doling out my raffle tickets, I saw a bucket that read, “Warren Animal Hospital.” Being a dog lover and dog mommy, I threw my ticket in.

I won a large gift box complete with toys, food, treats, shampoo and more…for your cat.

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I won! (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

I had a good laugh. Another runner saw me hauling it away and said: “I bet you don’t even have a cat.”

“Nope! I don’t!” I said. We both laughed. One of my cat-owning friends will be getting a very nice gift soon.

I found Phil, who’d run his own 5K PR in 19:44, finishing 47th overall among 637 runners and 39th among 340 men. I finished 166th overall and 39th among 297 women. It’s definitely one of my best finishes ever.

My first Turkey Trot was a resounding success, and a great way to finish off my 2013 racing season with turkey soup in hand.

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Turkey Soup tasted great after running in 28 degrees! (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

Here’s to 2014!

Karla Bruning


Karla Bruning is a regular contributor to SHAPE.com, the host of NYRR's On The Run web + TV show, and a race announcer at events like the TCS New York City Marathon. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now she freelances as a running reporter. She's run 7 marathons, 20 halves, 6 triathlons, sings in an '80s cover band, spoils her dog + travels compulsively.

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12 2013

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