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Thanksgiving Turkey Trot tradition on track for return to Glenwood Springs

Thanksgiving Day 5K runs also on tap for Carbondale, Basalt and Rifle

A couple of turkeys make their way to the finish line at the annual Carbondale Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Thanksgiving Day has felt a little emptier the past couple of years in Glenwood Springs as the traditional Turkey Trot fun run was on hiatus. 

But that’s all set to change next week, as the 34th running of the turkey day 5K run comes to Glenwood, and to a new (sort of) venue.

Tiffany Lindenberg, the fitness and wellness supervisor at the Glenwood Springs Community Center, was busy this week mapping out the new course. The run will take off from the Community Center at 10 a.m., head down the pedestrian path along Midland Avenue to the Roaring Fork River Trail and over to Two Rivers Park for a couple of loops, then back.



A trio of runners have fun as they start the 32nd annual Turkey Day 5K in 2018 at the Glenwood Springs Golf Course.
Kyle Mills / Post Independent

It won’t quite be the same as the long-standing Turkey Trot venue at the Glenwood Springs Golf Club, affectionately known as “The Hill,” as the numbers for the popular event have long-since outgrown that site.

But the beneficiary is the same as it has been for the past several years, as the Trot will once again be hosted by the Team Sopris Barracudas swim team, with proceeds also going to support the Glenwood Springs High School swim and cross country teams.



It also marks a return to an alternative start line that was used for a few years in the middle of the last decade, as the Thanksgiving holiday tradition got more and more popular locally and across the United States.

Lindenberg said it was problematic when, at that time, it was decided to plot a course along the nearby Wulfsohn Mountain Park dirt trails.

“It ended up being kind of dangerous for people with baby joggers and dogs out on the trails, especially if it had snowed, so we decided to try something different,” Lindenberg said. “We want it to be a family event, so we need to make it the safest possible.”

With that in mind, it’s more a fun run than a race, though there will most certainly be the hardcore runners out looking for a fast time. Speaking of which, there won’t be an electronic timing system this year, so self-timing is encouraged if runners want an accurate time.

A growing tradition

Derek Young, dressed as a turkey, Jonathan Cappelli, dressed as a pilgrim, Michael Merrill dressed as a Native American, and Ryan Young dressed as a banana, run in the 2017 Glenwood Springs Turkey Trot 5K at the Glenwood Springs Community Center.
Christopher Mullen / Post Independent |

What Glenwood’s and other local turkey trots are mostly about is community. Thanksgiving morning 5K trots are also planned in Carbondale, Basalt and Rifle, and at Anytime Fitness south of Glenwood Springs by the CMC turnoff on Colorado Highway 82. 

“Just being able to see everybody and bringing families out for a fun morning, that’s why we were so adamant about bringing it back,” Lindenberg said, referencing the two-year break due to concerns about large gatherings during the pandemic and venue uncertainties. 

“I kind of feel like we lost that community feel a little bit,” she said. “In those three years our community looks a little different, too, so it’s a chance to get out and not only see friends but also meet some new people.”

Costumes are of course encouraged and dogs are allowed, but dog owners are asked to have a poop bag or two handy. And, there will be pumpkin pie at the finish line for the finishers.

Having her own children grow up in the Barracudas youth swim program, the purpose is also near and dear to hers and a lot of other parents’ and participants’ hearts.

Longtime Team Sopris coach and former trot organizer Steve Vanderhoof recalls the early days of the former Turkey Day 5K at the golf course, which essentially started on a whim back in 1986.  

“I just always liked being up there and seeing people you maybe only see once a year, and some of the former students who come home for the holiday,” Vanderhoof said. “Our daughters are both grown and gone away from home now, but we have fond memories of pushing them along in the stroller, then running together and that whole progression.”

Longtime golf course Superintendent Jim Richmond and avid local runner Mike Vidakovich started the race.

“The Turkey Day 5K was Thanksgiving to me,” Vidakovich said in a 2021 interview. “It’s always been part of my spiritual fiber.”

Registration for the Glenwood Turkey Trot is $20 online ahead of time through Active.com or $25 on race day.

Carbondale Trot

A turkey hunter with sling-shot in hand waits for the start of the annual Carbondale Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Though there’s less history behind it, the Carbondale Turkey Trot returns for a sixth year, and is slated for a 9:30 a.m. start Thanksgiving morning from the Carbondale Recreation Center.

Same as Glenwood, the Carbondale organizers are rolling out a new 5K and 1-mile course utilizing the streets through old town, instead of the former back-and-forth course along the Rio Grande Trail.

“We’ve always wanted to go through town, but we need more volunteers to do that so we can have people at all the intersections,” said Jamie Wall, special events coordinator for Carbondale Parks and Recreation.

Volunteers are still needed. Contact jwall@carbondaleco.net if you can help out.

Wall said the Carbondale trot is looking forward to a more modest number of runners this year, after being overwhelmed with some 600 participants last year who, absent the Glenwood event, were hungry for some pre-turkey running.

“We already have more than 130 people signed up, so it will still be a pretty big event,” she said.

Baby strollers and joggers are allowed at the Carbondale trot, but no dogs after a canine tangle last year resulted in the race timing system getting knocked out of whack.

After the run, the Village Smithy will be providing mini pumpkin pie slices along with the usual post-race snacks.

Carbondale Trot advance registration is at carbondalerec.com; $15 for adults and $7 for children and youth ages 3 to 17 and seniors age 62 and up. Race-day registration is $20 and $10.

Rifle Trot

A dog keeps up with its human during the 2021 Rifle Turkey Trot.

The Rifle Turkey Trot is a benefit for the Rifle High School track and field program. It takes place at Rifle’s Deerfield Park, starting at 9 a.m. for the “little gobblers” and 9:30 a.m. for adults.

Registration begins at 8 a.m., or register in advance at active.com 

“We’re hoping for 150-200 participants, looking to raise at least $10,000 for the track program,” RHS Athletic Director Chris Bomba said. “It’s just a great community event that started with a lot of people bringing their families. It’s probably going to be one of our biggest events of the year.”

Anytime Trot

The annual running of the Anytime Fitness “Burn the Turkey 5K” takes place this year at 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, instead of the day after.

The event takes place on the Rio Grande Trail behind the gym, and is a benefit for Lift-Up. The entry fee is any non-perishable food items that will be donated to Lift Up.​

Basalt Trot 

Basalt Elementary School hosts its 6th annual Basalt Gobble Wobble fundraiser for the school’s outdoor education program equipment, at 9:30 a.m. Thanksgiving Thursday.

“We are incredibly excited this event continues to thrive,” said BES Principal Grant Waaler. “The community support and participation is tremendous. Our entire school looks forward to this event every year.

“Despite living in an area with a plethora of outdoor recreational options, many of our students lack the resources and opportunities to participate in these incredible experiences located right in our valley,” he said. “Providing the chance for young students to gain confidence, build character and create positive memories through outdoor education at our school would be invaluable.”

Register online at bit.ly/basaltgobble and choose either the 5K run or a 1-mile fun run. The cost to register individually is $20 per adult and $10 per child, or a family of up to five can register and receive a capped entry fee of $50. 

The first 100 participants to register receive a custom Longhorn knit hat, and all who register receive a raffle ticket toward amazing locally sponsored raffle prizes.

Post Independent interim Managing Editor and senior reporter John Stroud can be reached at jstroud@postindependent.com or at 970-384-9160.


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