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Race Recap: Charlotte Southpark 8K Turkey Trot

Charlotte Southpark 8K One of my favorite holiday traditions is the Charlotte Southpark Turkey Trot. It’s a big race in Charlotte, N.C. held on Thanksgiving morning, and it features an 8K, 5K, 1-mile fun run, and tot trot. My husband and I have ran the 8k every year since we moved to Charlotte except for the year my son was born (he was born the day before Thanksgiving).

Every year, the race gets more special to us. It’s stroller-friendly, so my son has been able to participate with us for the past two years. This year, we took the BOB Duallie so our infant daughter came with us, too. For the first time this year, my three-year-old son ran his own race, the tot trot, which took place after the 8K. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law also joined us too, so the event was a family affair.

The 8K and 5K are large races, with about 10,000 runners and walkers participating in both events combined. The start is right next to Southpark mall, so there is ample parking. We arrived about 30 minutes before the 9 a.m. starting time and had no issues making it to the start line on time.

This year, the weather was sunny and 40 degrees Fahrenheit with moderate winds, which was much warmer than last year’s 20 degree temperature!

Things at the start of the 8K are always hectic – there’s no corral system or announcements directing faster runners to line up towards the front and slower runners to head to the back. There was also no warning that the race was about to start. I was just chatting with my sister-in-law and suddenly a gun went off. It caught everyone by surprise.

The first mile of this race truly is chaos since everyone takes off at once, but that’s part of what makes this race so much fun. It’s a very hilly course, and crowds really thin out by 1.5 miles in.

In years past, my husband and I have found each other between miles 2 and 3. His pace with a stroller is close to my regular 8K pace, so we always try to reconnect and finish the race together. However, this year he was pushing the Duallie, and it was nearly impossible to get around people in the beginning, so I never found him.

My race went much better than expected. It was my first time lacing up my running shoes since running the Thunder Road Marathon 12 days earlier. I was expecting to feel a little sore or slow, but I felt pretty strong. I think the adrenaline rush from the madness at the start served as a nice distraction.

By the time I reached the worst of the hills around mile 3, I felt great. I was happy that my legs felt recovered from the marathon, so I picked up the pace and pushed as hard as I could for the final two miles.

I finished in 35:58 according to the clock, and 35:35 according to my GPS. That’s my one complaint about this race – even though we had chips in our bibs, the official time listed on the results page is gun time, not chip time.

My husband and kids came in a few minutes after I did. We grabbed our medals and some water and made our way to the tot trot area.

I love how well the tot trot is organized. There are several heats in the dash, arranged by age. There are chalk lines on the ground to mark lanes, and the children did a great job of staying in them. My son had an absolute blast in his race, and he loved the special medal he received at the end.

My family had a great morning, and I cannot think of a better way to kick off a holiday. We will be back at the Charlotte Southpark turkey trot next year!

Written by Jen Matz.

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