My IronMan husband and I have done many races and fun runs, even a turkey trot or two. To get to race starts, we’ve driven from Evanston to downtown Chicago. We’ve even traveled across the country. Never before, though, have we headed out our front door and walked straight to a race start.
This year we took advantage of the growing popularity of the turkey trot to do a race very close to home. The race itself covered a portion of our normal running route – the best part of our route, in fact.
This was the second year of the Evanston Flying Turkey put on by Chicago Athlete Magazine. This year, the course began and ended at Centennial Park, near the entrance to Clark Street Beach. The route wound around and through Northwestern’s campus – with glorious views of the morning sunshine over Chicago from along the lakefront and the NU reservoir.
A bonus for this year’s Thanksgiving day events in the area was the weather. I heard that 2012 marks the warmest Thanksgiving on record for Chicago since 1966. By the Flying Turkey’s 9:00am start time, the weather was pleasant and the sun was shining through the clouds.
A 5k is a tough distance. No warm-up, no build-up; just a hard effort for a solid 3.1 miles. The only comfort is in knowing that everyone around you is suffering just as much as you are. And in this race, people were suffering at fast speeds!
Perhaps the name of the race should have been a clue. This was no regular Turkey Trot. The north shore boasts a lot of athletes and many of those are right here in the Evanston, Wilmette and northside neighborhoods. The winner of the 5k, Peter Callahan an Evanston native who ran cross country for Princeton, finished in 16:20.87, clocking in at 5:16’s per mile. The first female finisher, April Likhite, another Evanston local and the head coach of NU’s cross country team, came in at 18:37.80 with 6:00 miles.
Hubby and I were pleased to place in the top 10 in our respective fields, given the stiff competition that morning. Even better than our finishing times was the sense of community at the finish.
Waiting for us, just past the post-race food and water, was the Higher Gear van – reflecting the blue of Lake Michigan and the bright gold of the morning sunshine. It was great to see Higher Gear’s Brendan, Beccy and little Katie Sullivan who were out volunteering on the course that morning. With only a half mile left in the race, it was the perfect spot for some personal inspiration.
Awaiting the awards ceremony, we gathered with friends and neighbors around the Precision Multisport tent. The race sweatshirts came in handy as the heat of the race dissipated. The sun shone down on all of us as we enjoyed a moment of community before heading off to our respective Thanksgiving celebrations. A morning to be thankful for, for sure!
The Evanston Flying Turkey is a top-notch, professionally run 5k race in a friendly, neighborhood setting. Next year, I invite you to my neighborhood to share the best portion of our running route to run/trot/race/walk the Evanston Flying Turkey and see for yourself what a great community we have here. ~ Joy Sherrick
What? You’re a cyclist, so you don’t run? Running, especially shorter distances like a 5k, is a great way to cross train. It helps burn calories. It strengthens bones and connective tissue. It strengthens core and muscles used for stabilizing you on your bike. As always, check with your doctor before changing your exercise routine.