The snowiest Turkey Day 5K
I believe it was the third year of the Turkey Day 5K in 1988 that the forecast for Thanksgiving morning was not at all appealing for those who were thinking about running the new, local foot race at the Glenwood Springs Golf Course. Snow and cold was predicted to move in at just about daybreak, and last for a good portion of the day.
With the 10 a.m. start scheduled to go on as planned, and all details taken care of for anyone who might show up, race organizers sat in the course clubhouse a couple of hours before things were to begin and watched, as first light flakes began to fall, then the skies opened up with white fluffy stuff as mother nature threw in some swift winds for good measure just to give us all the full November sampling of the winter to come.
We all sat, with glum looks painted across our faces, and watched as close to 5 inches of snow piled up on the once clear fairways that make up almost all of the Turkey Day trek. We started making predictions as to how many runners might actually decide to enter the race and brave the snowy and slippery conditions. Head golf professional Greg Gortsema wondered out loud if anyone was stupid enough to go out and run on such a miserable, wet morning. Most of us guessed we would get a turnout of somewhere in the high teens like we did the first year of the race in 1986.
Almost on cue, knowing that it was the day of Glenwood’s special Thanksgiving event, the forces from heaven that control such things, gradually began to slow the moisture valves in the sky and turn down the wind, until the snow had completely stopped around 9:30 a.m.
A few of the regular, dedicated running kooks had already ambled in and registered, as we knew they would, but now a steady flow of cars also began to fill up the course parking lot with more familiar faces, and some curious new ones. All of a sudden, just like Christmas morning, people were hustling to get ready, and things were bustling with anticipation and excitement for what was to come.
A then-record crowd of 55 showed up that cold and gray morning to trudge through the snow and usher in the holiday season. One of the dominant runners of that time, Allen Russell from Grand Junction, was the race winner, and the only glitch in the entire day was a complaint from local Jim Nadon who was mystified as to why we did not provide enough salsa for the chips at the refreshment table.
Something special happened that year in spite of the appearance of Old Man Winter. We knew that if people would turn out in good numbers on such a challenging day to be outside — especially running outside — the race would surely continue to grow.
And grow it did.
Between 400 and 500 people now regularly invade the Glenwood Golf Course on Turkey Day. Most are runners, but many are there just to catch up with old friends, check out the scenery, and take a pleasant stroll before the day’s big feast.
As always, the race starts at 10 a.m., and the entry fee is $15 if you preregister at Summit Canyon in Glenwood, Independence Run and Hike in Carbondale, or by catching up with a member of the Glenwood High School swim team or cross country team. The fee is $25 on race morning.
This year’s race is the 31st running of the Turkey Day 5K. Even if it’s snowing and cold, pull yourself out of that warm bed and join the crowd for one of Glenwood’s best traditions.
You’ll be glad you did. There will be gobs of good food, and I’m sure race organizers will have plenty of salsa on hand.
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The Glenwood Springs-Rifle sports rivalry goes way back for GSHS baseball coach and former Demons multi-sport student-athlete Eric Nieslanik.