That’s right. I confess. I love Turkey Trots. And Santa Shuffles, Reindeer Runs, Resolution Runs, and Fair 5ks. I love every possible iteration of holiday running event. If it has a cutesy name, all the better. I love a theme race, and a race that involves a costume contest, turkey calling competition, or watermelon seed spitting. The kookier the better. What I love most about these special holiday races is that they always seem to bring out the best of the running community. If it’s done right, a holiday race will have great competition for speedier runners, fun for kids of all ages, and opportunities for new runners and walkers to participate.
Today, I ran in the Seniors First Turkey Trot in Orlando, Florida. It had everything a great holiday race should have – great cause (including a donation drive), costume contest, turkey calling competition, and a division for walkers. It even had an interesting course – weaving through downtown Orlando and along Lake Eola. I wore my turkey hat.
Here’s what I love about holiday races – you see the good in people and get to witness people experiencing the joy of running. I saw people finishing their first 5k, hugging and giving high fives. I saw a woman who had clearly lost a great deal of weight cry when she crossed the finish line. I saw a runner in a head scarf, wearing a sign that said she finished chemo yesterday. I saw hundreds of families, many running hand in hand. Adorable moms and dads were cheering for and encouraging their children, who positively glowed with pride wearing their new 5k t-shirts. I saw runners encouraging other runners. I saw a fit man in his 30s pushing a man who must have been his grandfather in a regular, not racing, wheelchair. Grandpa was wearing a race number and had his hands held high in triumph as he crossed the finish line. There’s something wonderful about the way everyone comes together and supports one another and instant friendships are formed. And, today, all these people are runners. Runners who got to experience the joy of accomplishing something special. It’s that joy that makes running special. Today, I am thankful for running and for all the joy that running has brought to my life.