Wednesday, December 9, 2015

2015 Charlotte SouthPark 8k Turkey Trot

I've always wanted to run a Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning, but for various reasons never have. This Thanksgiving, I was determined to change that, and signed up for the Charlotte Southpark Turkey Trot. This race had a 5k or 8k option, and I chose the 8k. Even signing up late on November 17, registration wasn't too pricey at $40. Since that included a long sleeve t-shirt (cotton, tech tee was an additional $15) as well as a finisher's medal, I didn't think $40 was bad.

Since I wasn't exactly sure how crowded race day would be, I opted to visit packet pick-up the day before, and it was super easy and fast to grab my bib and shirt. I tried to get to bed early and organize myself on Wednesday night so that I could get to the start on time. That meant that I finished cooking a Thanksgiving dessert, had my Garmin charged, and my Nuun bottles filled all before bed!

Prepping for race day!
On Thursday morning, I woke up and realized I didn't have Bagel Thins or bread in the house, so went with a bowl of Trader Joe's Pumpkin Pecan Oats for breakfast before I left (prepping fail). Traffic on Thanksgiving morning was non-existent, so I made it to the start at SouthPark Mall with plenty of time to spare. I wasn't exactly sure where the best place to park would be, but decided to park closer to the start than the finish to hopefully avoid traffic leaving. I made my way towards the 8k start line and was super happy to see that it was actually right by an indoor food court that housed a Bojangles, so was open! This meant that runners had a warm place to wait inside AND indoor bathrooms with NO LINES! It was great - especially since it was around 40 degrees at the start.

I met a fellow #TeamrunDisney Facebook group member and we actually stuck together for the whole race! The race started right on time, and we were off! The 8k started at 9:00 am, with the 5k starting at 9:30 in a different location, but they finished at the same spot. Being Charlotte, the course was filled with rolling hills, and our goal was just to have fun and keep to our 30:30 run/walk/run intervals. The course was open enough that in the first few miles there wasn't really any crowding, which was great! At around the 2-mile marker, a couple families had set up a "water" stop with mimosas and Bloody Marys! There were a couple other families throughout the course that were out cheering runners on, which was nice!
Mimosas at Mile 2? Okay!

We kept up with our intervals, and before we knew it, there was only about a mile left. Somewhere around that point, the course merged with the 5k course. Well, it went from being not crowded at all, to being super crowded! It was fine for us since we were just running for fun, but I can imagine any 5kers who were racing may not have been pleased. There were around 7,000 finishers total, so it wasn't exactly a small race! You can see from the splits how much the merging slowed us down in the last miles! (That and what I'm convinced is a Charlotte rule that races must have a huge uphill in the last mile or two of every race.)
Turkey Trot 8k Splits

8k Turkey Trot Finisher
Once through the finish chute, we were handed our medals, which are pretty great! My only complaint about the race was the organization after finishing. Although we saw people walking around with fruit and Kind Bars, we never saw any and had to assume they ran out. Even water at the finish line was almost completely gone (and was cups, not bottles), so I was extra happy I had a bottle of Nuun in the car waiting for me. 

We finished in about an hour, so that means people were finishing the 10k for at least another 30 minutes, and the 5k for a little longer than that. As a solid mid to back of the pack runner depending on the size of the race, nothing frustrates me more than races running out of post-race food/water before everyone is finished!

Overall though, I thought this was a great race, and I felt great running it the whole time! I'll definitely be returning next year!