Guest Blogger Alisyn Gularte

50 million! That  is the number of turkeys sold each year for the Thanksgiving Holiday. That’s a whole lot of turkeys! Turkey Trots are associated with the Thanksgiving tradition just as much as the traditional turkey dinner. The Turkey Trot community events bring out avid runners, walkers, and other fitness enthusiasts. As everyone gathers at the starting line for the trot, there’s a thrill of excitement right before the gun goes off. In these races it’s not about who wins or loses, but the satisfaction, and a feeling of accomplishment that this holiday is more than just an eating extravaganza.

With Turkey Trots across the United States, San Jose, California was fortunate to have two of these fun runs separated just miles apart. I was fortunate to participate in both…In a roundabout sort of way.

The bigger of the two events was the Applied Materials Silicon Valley Turkey Trot. WithSan Jose Turkey Trotting 21,000 registered participants, proceeds benefited the Second Harvest Food Bank, the Housing Trust, and the Children’s Healthcare Initiative. A race of this size takes lots of planning months before the actual event. Sports Basement, a local sporting goods store that is community oriented, with four locations in the Bay Area, assisted in sponsoring the Applied Materials Trot. The Sports Basement Sunnyvale marketing team, which includes Mike Gibson, attended meetings four months in advance. Mike assisted in logistics for bib pick- up at the Sunnyvale Sports Basement location. With more than 1,000 race participants picking up bibs and shirts – volunteers from the Sports Basement running group offered their weekend time to assist with parking, and other duties that would ensure an effective and easy pick-up for race participants. I was also one of those volunteers that gave my time for four hours in the cold assisting with parking for bib and tech shirt pick-up. While it was a fun experience and I was happy to give back to the running community that I love so, I certainly won’t quit my day job to become a Traffic Controller anytime soon.

If it takes a village to raise a child, it certainly takes a community to put on a successful race event. This year I decided to run in the smaller of the two Thanksgiving races – The Almaden Valley’s Run Turkey Run 5k that holds a 10k as well. In the last four years since the race began in 2008 it has grown from 17 official registered participants to well over 700! The race began after founders and organizers, Scott and Colleen Kimmel, participated in the Applied Materials Silicon Valley Turkey Trot. Like me, they both got a tad anxious in the crowds, and wished there was another option to run in the town where they reside. It was then neighbor David Ralston, who is now Co-Founder, suggested they put on a neighborhood event. Fast forward a couple of years later, a non-profit called AVRTR, Inc. as a 501c (3) was formed to assist with permits and such. They also organize a shoe drive with all charitable donations going towards Soles4Soul. And now, POOF- A successful community race was created.  And what a success it was!

SJ Turkey Trot

I absolutely adored this race! With no hassle parking, short lines, and great organization, what’s not to love! Everyone seemed to be in high spirits and ready to run. The weather was crisp. Like Goldilocks, it was not too cold, nor too hot, but just right. A bit overcast, the colors of falling orange and yellow leaves made the backdrop of the course very “autumn festive.” Both the 5k and 10k started on a residential street. The course then led me to one of my favorite paved trails in the South Bay Area – The Almaden Lake Park Trail. An out and back course, I am usually relieved to cross the finish line of a 5k because frankly…They hurt! It was not the case for this run. I was really enjoying myself, and just wanted to keep running!

I was surprised to run into (not literally of course) some friends from the Santa Cruzarea, and I even managed to meet some new friends.

While you don’t get a shirt, or any type of  fancy swag for participating in the Almaden Run Turkey Run, winners and those who placed in the top Age Group categories do receive a certificate, and a Sports Basement Gift card.

I left the race oozing with that runner’s high. Not only did I feel accomplished, but thankful. I am thankful that I run in an area that is heavily populated with runners. I am thankful for race organizers, staff, and volunteers, who put in so much of their time to ensure a positive race experience. And most of all, I am thankful for the amazing support the running community provides.

What a great way to start off the Thanksgiving holiday. Were you able to make it out to a Turkey Trot near you? If not, there is always next year! Happy Running!

Alisyn Gularte, a native to the Bay Area, is a Social Media Manager by day, Blogger by night, and a runner everywhere in between. Alisyn is ecstatic to be representing The San Francisco Marathon as the 2012 Ambassador as she hopes to give back to the running community that has been such an amazing support. You can find Alisyn on Twitter or visit her blog at Runinsyn.com.