Adieu, old friend |

Adieu, old friend

Mike Vidakovich
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Mike Vidakovich

This one has been special from the very beginning. It’s never been just another 5K on the running calendar.

The Turkey Day 5K was born on Thanksgiving Day 1986, and will draw to a close on the same day in 2011.

It all started as the brainchild of a couple of young runners, new to the sport, who wanted to get in one last frolic before the snow and chill of winter set in.

Seventeen showed up for the inaugural running. It has grown substantially.

After providing the community with one unforgettable Turkey Day after another for 25 years, race directors Jim Richmond and Karen Greenwood have decided it’s time for a change and time to relax a bit.

“We have been honored to work with our sponsors, the board of directors of the Glenwood Golf Course and Kevin Flohr for their support through the years. To our volunteers, we have treasured our Thanksgivings spent with you. Most importantly, we have enjoyed putting on this race because of the runners. We have fond memories of those who braved the elements, who came in costume and stayed after hours to make this a most spirited event,” said the race directors.

A big thanks to both of you. The race has always been a quality event and a memorable one.

I’m proud to say that, along with Richmond and Jack Green, I’ve never missed the race. It has become Thanksgiving to me. It’s my favorite day of the year.

My memories from Turkey Days gone by are so special that it would be hard to single out the best. I’ll miss seeing all of the old friends who come back for the holidays each year and make it a point to run a little and reminisce a lot before venturing home to put on the afternoon feed bag.

The weather has left a lasting impression on me, from unseasonably warm to near-blizzard conditions. The race has run the gamut in this unpredictable category. None of the elements ever seemed to put a damper on the hardy souls who continued to show up, and multiply as the years wore on. They always appeared, shiny and enthusiastic, like the light of each new day.

Local charities have been the biggest winners on Turkey Day, though the entry fee has remained at $5 for the duration of the event. Schools, libraries, sports programs, animal shelters and other nonprofits have reaped the benefits of the race directors’ generosity.

Thanks again goes out to the close-knit band of volunteers who have made the race what it is today. Most of them are Glenwood Springs Golf Club regulars who lend a big hand directing runners on the course and with putting on the feast of turkey and all the stuffing afterward.

For one last time at the Turkey Day 5K, the holiday blessing will be given by Brother Bob Willey and Jack Green. They gave us the first blessing in 1986, when we were young, hopeful, and the future held endless possibilities.

The 2011 version promises to be a fitting send-off for all.

There will be a race in Glenwood on Thanksgiving Day next year, and the years to follow. It will most likely be held on the mountain trails near the Community Center, and race director Steve Vanderhoof has promised to keep folks exercising and earning their holiday dinner by doing a little wobbling before they gobble. The run will be a benefit for the Glenwood Springs High School boys and girls swim teams and the Sopris Barracudas swim club.

I’ll be there. We all should. But it won’t be the same.

Adieu, my friend, and thanks for the lasting memories.

Mike Vidakovich is a freelance sports writer for the Post Independent.

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