The Tri-Valley Turkey Burn Family Fun Run will be back as a live event at Pleasanton's Ken Mercer Sports Park on Thanksgiving Day morning, with opportunities for exercise and shared expressions of thanks that have made it a special occasion in the past for participants of all ages.
Gates for the seventh annual edition, sponsored by Pleasanton North Rotary (PNR), will open at 8 a.m. Both 5K and 10K events will begin at 9 a.m. after pre-race warmups led by Joya Yoga at the starting line. The start will lead to clearly marked trails for running, walking, or strolling for adults, seniors, children, and infants in strollers. Dogs on leashes will also be welcomed.
More than 700 Tri-Valley residents were already registered online as of last Friday at www.trivalleyturkeyburn.org, placing the event on track to beat the record of nearly 2,000 participants in 2019.
As in past years, event co-organizer Ron Sutton predicts the Turkey Burn's unique "I Am Thankful For ..." race bibs will again become an important part of the festivities. Registrants can either decorate their bibs with messages of thanks at home, or they can use color pens and crayons at designated tables in the staging area to personalize their bibs before the race.
"The bibs are especially popular with kids, but everyone seems to enjoy reading everybody else's messages," Sutton said. "They really add to the community spirit and holiday festiveness of this fund-raising event."
Thanksgiving Day often coincides with the peak of fall color in Pleasanton and the possibility of walking or running in the Turkey Burn past trees in the vibrant colors of the autumn season. Rain or shine, the Turkey Burn will be a healthy way to rev up your metabolism before Thanksgiving dinner, Sutton said.
Net proceeds from the Tri-Valley Turkey Burn have traditionally supported youth services sponsored by PNR and the Pleasanton North Rotary Foundation. This commitment is especially important now as programs, such as the Pleasanton Foothill High School Interact Community Service Club, the annual Richard D. King Youth Speech Contest, the Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) camp and Rotary International Youth Exchange program recover from the pandemic, organizers said.
In terms of safety, organizers will follow California and Alameda County COVID-19 guidelines. On Nov. 1, both lifted mandatory mask requirements for outdoor gatherings involving fewer than 10,000 people. However, the Turkey Burn organizers will still encourage everyone to wear masks and maintain reasonable social distancing outside their circles of friends and family members.
Drive-thru event packet pickup will be available at Ken Mercer Sports Park (at the second parking lot from the Hopyard Avenue entrance) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Wednesday (Nov. 24). Participants also have the option of on-site registration in the staging area before the race. A map and other details are available on the website.
Pre-race activities will include free hot coffee and cocoa; opportunities to donate non-perishable food items to Tri-Valley Haven for needy families; live sponsor exhibits; ample table space and materials for customizing "I Am Thankful for ... " race bibs with Thanksgiving Day messages; and souvenir stands offering 2021 Turkey Burn T-shirts and caps.
The entry fee is $10 for adults (age 18 and older) and $5 for teens and pre-teens (ages 10 to 17). Children (nine and under) are free. Ample parking will be available for the event on Thursday morning (Nov. 25), organizers said.
All registrants will receive Turkey Burn medallions at the finish line to recognize their participation.
"Going live again is really going to put the fun back in our Turkey Burn," co-organizer Viviana Cherman said. "It's going to be a thrill to be there to see all those smiling faces again."
Editor's note: Jim Brice is a freelance writer, editor and media relations consultant. He also serves as public image chair for Pleasanton North Rotary.