Riis Park Striders 49th Annual Turkey Trot

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Thanksgiving for most folks brings thoughts of spending time with family while enjoying a hearty dinner celebration. For runners this holiday also includes the inclination to participate in one of the many turkey-trot themed races that abound in the area. One of the longest running events in the Chicago area is the Turkey Trot series of cross-country races hosted by the Riis Park Striders. This running club is one of the oldest running clubs in the city with its origins going back to the 1960’s. The club is a casual, informal group that holds races almost every weekend throughout the year on their home turf of Riis Park on Chicago’s north side.

Registration is in-person only (no-added online fees is a plus), does not include chip timing nor a commemorative t-shirt (t-shirts were available for purchase separately) but with a nominal registration fee of only three-dollars to race I decided to make this race my holiday turkey trot. A one mile, 5k and team competition option were available to runners. With the one miler starting at 9 a.m. and the 5k race starting at 10 a.m. some runners chose to run in both races. Participants were encouraged to bring a food donation for the Feed the Hungry program.

The race starts at one corner of the park with the course taking runners around the inside perimeter of the park once for the one-mile race and three times for the 5k race. The course itself has runners going up and down a hill and is run very much like a cross-country race on a grassy surface throughout. Intermittent rains the previous two days left the course muddy and rain-soaked in some patchy areas. Since the entire course is contained within Riis Park there are no streets to cross or automobile traffic to avoid.

This event doesn’t draw the larger numbers of participants that some turkey trot events do but does offer a very local neighborly vibe to it. It’s a great way to get in a casual run with friends or compete against some serious racers. Speaking to Race Director Chris Precht for a few moments while he was busy attending to race duties, he told me that’s it’s all about having fun and running.

Trophies were awarded to top finishing teams and ribbons were awarded to the top finishers. Winners received cash prizes and gift certificates were awarded as well. For those looking to stretch their legs and do some running the Striders offer several races on Saturday mornings ranging in distance from one-mile up to seven-miles. Registration for these regular meets is only one dollar. That’s right, only one dollar. Check them out if you’re in the area and feel like running.

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