Sprint into holidays with fun runs

Several Turkey Trots held in metro area on Thanksgiving

By Marissa Harshman, Columbian health reporter


photoMaryalicia Verdecchia, 38, of Vancouver crosses the finish line at the Clark County Running Club’s annual Turkey Trot at Marine Park on Saturday. Themed fun runs like the Turkey Trot hooked Verdecchia on running


Holiday runs

Here’s a list of upcoming holiday fun runs:

Turkey Trot at the Zoo: 8 a.m. Thursday at the Oregon Zoo in Portland. Four-mile run and half-mile Tot Trot inside the zoo for those younger than 12. Proceeds benefit the zoo; race entry includes admission to the zoo. http://www.signmeup.com/site/online-event-registration/78472.

Turkey Trot: 8:30 a.m. Thursday at the Ridgefield Church of the Nazarene, 747 Pioneer St. The 5K benefits causelife, an organization that provides wells for those with no access to clean water. http://www.active.com/running/ridgefield-wa/2nd-annual-walk-for-water-turkey-trot-2011.

Turkey Trot Clark County and Polar Bear Swim: 9 a.m. Thursday at Klineline Pond. Includes a 5K run/walk and 10K walk followed by a dip into the frigid water. The event benefits the Principal’s Checkbook, a local program that helps disadvantaged kids in area schools. http://www.turkey-trot.org.

Hot Buttered Run: 8 a.m. Sunday at Pearson Air Museum, 1115 East Fifth St. Includes 12K run and 5K run/walk and Kids Kandy Kane race. http://www.energyeventsllc.com/hotbutteredrun.

Ridgefield’s Holiday Fun Run: 9 a.m. Dec. 3 in downtown Ridgefield. Includes 5K run/walk and 10K run. Food donations to benefit Neighbors Helping Neighbors Food Bank Program. http://www.runridgefield.com/HolidayFunRun.html.

Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis: 8 a.m. Dec. 4 at the World Trade Center in downtown Portland. Includes 5K run/walk, 1K Kids Fun Run with the elves, holiday costume contest and ugly sweater contest. Benefits Oregon office of the Arthritis Foundation. http://portlandjinglebellrun.kintera.org.

Lincoln School Holiday Run: 10 a.m. Dec. 10 at Lincoln Elementary School, 4200 Daniels St. in Vancouver. Runners receive candy canes after completing the 4.3 mile run. http://www.ccrunning.org/index_files/Schedule.htm.

Slim Santas racing through downtown. People prancing through neighborhoods wearing reindeer antlers. And elves skipping alongside children with jingling shoes.

’Tis the season for festive fun runs, and the metro area is full of holiday cheer.

There are turkey trots and jingle bell walks, polar bear swims and holiday runs. There are 5Ks with raffles for frozen turkeys, 12Ks that reward finishers with glasses of hot buttered rum, and 4-milers that end with candy canes. There are Santa hats, elf ears and even gingerbread man costumes.

“The Grinch shows up every year. We usually have a team of reindeers. And Santa’s always there,” said Kim Lowry of the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis.

“It’s a sea of red and green and festive fun,” she added.

But before the red and green, there are turkeys.

On Saturday, 155 runners competed in the Clark County Running Club’s annual Turkey Trot. After finishing the 3-mile course, organizers raffled off 20 frozen 20-pound turkeys.

On Thanksgiving, before sitting down and dishing up turkey, potatoes and stuffing, people can get outside, go for a run and raise money. Three area groups are holding Turkey Trots to benefit three different causes: the Oregon Zoo, an organization that provides clean drinking water and a nonprofit that helps disadvantaged kids in local schools.

Clark County residents Karen Nelson and Robin Chilton are hosting the second annual Turkey Trot for causelife in Ridgefield. Causelife is an organization that raises money to purchase wells that will provide clean drinking water for people living in Third World countries.

Last year, more than 100 people showed up to participate and give back on Thanksgiving, Chilton said.

“It was my best Thanksgiving ever because you feel good about doing something for someone else,” she said.

After eating on Thursday and shopping on Friday, people can head out to Pearson Air Museum on Sunday for the second annual Hot Buttered Run and Kids Kandy Kane race.

The event is tied to the Festival of Trees that runs at the museum throughout the weekend. After viewing the decorated Christmas trees, visitors can continue the holiday cheer by dressing up in red and green and running a 5K or 12K, said Brian Davis of Energy Events, which hosts the event.

The event also features a kids race with elves, holiday music and hot cocoa or hot buttered rum for adults. So far, more than 900 adults and 225 kids have registered for the event, Davis said.

The goal: get people outside getting healthy and having fun, he said.

“Somebody ran in a gingerbread costume last year — the whole 12K,” Davis said.

The Vancouver Rotary Foundation benefits from proceeds.

The festivities continue next weekend with the Ridgefield Holiday Fun Run and Portland’s Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis.

As the name suggests, the Jingle Bell Run

includes thousands of bells tied to walkers’ and runners’ shoes. Besides the bells, people come out dressed in candy cane-striped tube socks, Santa hats and reindeer antlers.

“I think the festive dress and costumes really make this event what it is,” Lowry said.

Vancouver resident Maryalicia Verdecchia is a frequent participant in festive holiday running events. She’s dressed like a pumpkin, worn an antler headband and donned a Bavarian maid costume for fun runs. She’s also participated in Portland’s Run Like Hell, which this year had a zombie theme.

“A lot of people come out to them for their first run because they don’t feel intimidated running by zombies,” she said.

Verdecchia was one of those novice runners at a holiday themed event. A Fourth of July race — for which Verdecchia dressed in red, white and blue and was covered in stickers and garland — hooked the 38-year-old on running.

Now, dozens of races later, Verdecchia said those festive events keep her running.

“I will try to run in as many of those as I can,” she said, “because they’re fun, and I can run with a smile on my face.”

Marissa Harshman: http://twitter.com/col_health;http://facebook.com/reporterharshman;marissa.harshman@columbian.com; 360-735-4546.