Race Report: Milwaukee Turkey Trot

It might be December, but I’m finally get my Turkey Trot race report up. Better late than never, right?

I really like this race. The event is very well organized, the distance is exact, and the swag isn’t too bad either. Plus it’s one of the few opportunities I get to run an 8k.

Packet pickup is always the two days leading up to the race at Performance Running Outfitters in Shorewood, WI. I know some people really like expos, but I’m always a fan of packet pickup at a running store. And I’ve said before, but I am a little biased when it comes to PRO, since I think they’re the best.

Pickup is normally fairly busy, but the line moves quick. Runners receive an email during the week with their bib number included. So you just need to present that email (phone or print out) when you arrive to get your bib and shirt. It’s also super easy to pick up additional bibs as well.

The shirt changes each year. In 2015 it was a blue hoodie. Very soft and comfortable, but not the highest of qualities. But for trail runs in the winter that I know will be sloppy, it’s a great outer layer. In 2016 we got a 1/4 zip which I really liked! This year, the race went back to the hoodie, and made it black and gray. Nice colors, same iffy quality.

Anyone else notice that hoodies have gotten really big for race swag?

Race morning. The race is always at Veteran’s Park on the shores of Lake Michigan. Parking is tight here, but there’s space for everyone. If you don’t mind walking a little further, there is street parking available as well. But overall, it isn’t tough to park. And it’s free.

There’s no gear check, but you really don’t need it. Parking is more or less close to the start; so you can leave things in your car. Otherwise, I always put my sweats in a plastic bag and set it by a tree. No one has ever disturbed it to date.

This year, the start was in a different spot (closer to the parking lot!) due to a different course. I wasn’t a big fan of this starting line. We started on grass for the first 20m or so, and the actual starting line was only about 4 wide. So it was a little cramped at the start.

The 5k and 8k both start at the same time, which means a ton of people get after it at the start. The first mile was basically an out and back, just on different paths. Then we hopped onto the sidewalk that ran parallel to the road and lagoon.

As you can imagine, the first mile of a 5 and 8k sees a lot of movement in the first mile. I’ll admit that I got out a little too hot, especially given my lack of running in November The second mile takes us up the only thing that is passable as a hill on the course, but it slows everyone down. Up to the Veteran’s Center, over the bridge, and back down the Hank Aaron trail.

That’s where you hit Mile 2. The bulk of the last mile is downhill to the finish. No matter what pace or how strong you’re feeling, you will both be passed and pass people in this mile. I passed a couple runners, and was passed by two 5k runners pushing to the finish.

At this point, I felt pretty settled into my pace as we crossed another bridge back into Veteran’s Park. Here the 5k turns in to finish, and the 8k continues on an out and back to Bradford Beach.

I normally run the 8k as a long 5k, which means this out and back is where I pay for my aggressive early pacing.

This year, we had the wind on the way out, so I made the decision to push Mile 4, and then survive Mile 5. I passed one runner quickly on the out and back. As the lead runners came back, it was easy to count off that I was running in 9th at the turn.

The turn is right at 4 miles, so it’s a mile back. As expected, I struggled the last mile and got passed by the guy I had passed a mile earlier, but no one else was closing in on us. The back is a tough, not only due to fatigue, but also due to the other runners on the out. The sidewalk gets a little crowded with runners coming from both directions

I hung onto 10th to come into the finish, and with a PR no less!

Waiting for us at the finish was a (cold) cinnamon roll and some water. I took the roll home to microwave it and enjoy it with my coffee. Like I said, I really like this race.

My only complaint is that results are almost never correct. Inevitably, some runners who sign up for the 8k will turn in at the 5k, which throws off some things. Which is fine. It’s a Thanksgiving run after all. And if that’s my only gripe with the race, I think it’s doing a great job!

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