Lincolnwood ‘Turkey Trot’ to be virtual race
by JASON MEREL
The Lincolnwood Village Board of Trustees at a special meeting Aug. 4 voted to cancel this year’s regular "Turkey Trot" event and instead will hold a virtual competition in November.
Staff is considering several options for the virtual event but details have not been finalized and a date has not been set, said Parks and Recreation director Melissa Rimdzius-Marsh.
"This would be more of a continuation of the tradition and a recreational opportunity," she said.
Racers would be timed using a phone application and have the option to commit to completing a 5-kilometer or a 10-kilometer run or walk.
"We will not be specifying a course or location, and will encourage racers to complete the challenge in the safest way possible," Rimdzius-Marsh said in an e-mail after the meeting.
Racers will receive a commemorative shirt prior to participating in the challenge and a finisher’s medal after the race is completed. Additional details about the virtual event, giveaways, registration, event sponsors, and more will be available at recreation.lwd.org.
The annual event features more than 2,500 racers, volunteers and spectators each year, she said at the meeting. Since the state is in phase four of the "Restore Illinois" guidelines, only gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed.
"If we transition back to phase three or phase two, the guidelines that were in place would not limit a virtual race of this nature because people are individually participating," Rimdzius-Marsh said. "There’s no actual physical gathering."
Trustee Georjean Hlepas-Nickell said she was curious about the revenue from a virtual event.
"Have you looked at some of the other communities that have done these virtual races?" Hlepas-Nickell asked. "I’m a little nervous about the money. We have very little coming in, especially in that department."
"In terms of our ‘Turkey Trot,’ for a virtual event, I’ve loosely reached out to sponsors to figure out what their interest level would be if it were virtual or in-person," Rimdzius-Marsh said. "We’ve already received a commitment of $2,000 in support for this event."
"The other thing about a virtual race is you no longer have all the expenses of the timing company, the rental equipment, the tents and that makes up the bulk of the expense of our ‘Turkey Trot,’" Rimdzius-Marsh said. "What I have budgeted has us breaking even if we have as few as 50 people sign-up for this type of event."
Staff noted that holding an in-person race with the current public health guidelines would add at least 2 1/2 to 3 hours to the total race, which means increased costs to vendors and longer street closures.
"If we have to close streets, it just doesn’t make sense," Patel said.
Trustee Ronald Cope said that the village needs to carry on the tradition and provide activities for residents.
"I think if we can lay out a route in Lincolnwood, that would be ideal," he said.