This was my very first Turkey Trot! I chose it because it was local and super close to where I live in Chicago - my über only took 6 minutes and it was easy to get to race start! I ran the 8K distance. I loved seeing all the costumes and excitement for the event. Here is my breakdown:
Expo: Was help at the Fleet Feet Old Town. I found pick-up SUPER easy. I was in and out in less than 5 minutes, (I went in the late morning on Wednesday before the race). I loved that the race gave you all your materials in a Chicago Food Depository donation brown bag - I thought this was brilliant and I (and tons of other participants) brought a full bag of food donations back on race day. So easy.
Shirt - Not my favorite shirt. It is a long sleeve, cotton shirt with a muted, autumnal color palette and underwhelming graphic design. I can see using this as a comfy shirt to wear as pjs, but I wouldn't be able to use it for running, unless I was wearing it as a warmer before I threw it away in a race 😳. The race logo/character, Perky Turkey, is SOOO cute and I don't know why the race wouldn't lean into that for the shirt design.
Aid Stations - The shorter distance meant not as many stations - they had gatorade and water. I also saw race marshals, and Race Guards (hired EMS runners) were in all corrals.
Course - The course is on the Chicago Lake Path - which is still open to the public. The general public didn't seem to be out and about so that wasn't a concern. However, the race was old out with almost 8500 runners so the course got pretty packed. The 5K and 8K ran together, then split for the 8K runners to go farther north, and then rejoin. They spread out the corrals to avoid congestion on the path, however they moved the corrals up to the start and OVER the chip timer to wait. So many runners had 'started' the race and then had to wait about 5 minutes- EEK! I was in the second corral of the whole race so I think my beginning experience was good, not too crowded. At the beginning there were some children running with parents, but they were managed. No strollers (THANK YOU!) and only a couple of walkers. The best part of the course was when the 8K split off - way less crowded, but also the clientele seemed like experience runners. So, I only started to get frustrated with the congestion when the 5K and 8K combine. The merge happened at a pretty tight spot on the path, and because of the waves, I re-entered into tons of walkers, first-timers, and children - right as I was in my home stretch trying to keep pace. This stayed pretty tight and forced me to bob and weave quite a bit until the finish. Then, I ran home to get in some more miles... why not! Lastly, and not related to race management, is the course itself. It happens to be the exact stretch of lake path that I run almost every day so that part of the race wasn't special to me (but I would still do this race again!).
Post-Race - Let's start with the finisher chute. The definition of a bottleneck - literally closed in to a very narrow point at the end. Since the race was at capacity, I do think the race needed more support here to move people through. I am grateful for volunteers, but they were not on point in the finish. No one was moving the crowd or even handing out supplies (I even saw one teenage volunteer on their phone blocking finishers from getting by). I think with increased support here the finish could be less congested, and I acknowledge that the race was dealing with A LOT of people. I did think the post-race tailgate was super cute. Lots of games, tents, and other activities for all ages. I sped through to get home, but I was impressed with the setup. We also got a MEDAL! Not sure if that was needed, IMO, but I know it was probably pretty exciting for first-timers or runners that stick to shorter distances.
For my first Turkey Trot, I was happy and would do this race again - even recruiting others to join this city race. Loved the food donation aspect! You do need to know that Trots come with large crowds with lots of families and first-timers and that is just the nature of the beast.