Twice a year, I run a trail race. And each time, I enjoy the experience so much that I vow to make trail running a regular part of my training. The trails that host these races are each within a half-hour drive of my house. But it’s just too easy to come up with excuses rather than commit to the drive, the run and the return home. The Meandering Turkey at Klaus Park in Cape Girardeau is Missouri Running Company’s annual trail run and customer appreciation event.
Klaus Trail is organic and has changed slightly through the years. When I first ran this race five years ago, the Meandering Turkey was a 4 1/2 mile race. While the start and finish locations have remained the same, this year’s race was a little more than 5 1/2 miles long.
The trail at Klaus Park is a great example of cooperation among the park district and those who use the trail. The running and cycling communities share responsibility for the maintenance and proper use of the trail. It’s an effective arrangement that provides a multi-use trail within the city of Cape Girardeau. Even after several days of rain, the trail was in good shape for the late November run. Weather for the Sunday afternoon event was ideal; sunny with very little wind and temperatures in the low 50’s.
Meandering Turkey Race
Sixty-five people finished the five and a half miles of hilly, rooted, single-track trail run this year and about twenty kids ran the one-mile trail. Post-race festivities included chili and beverages along with hand-made awards for the top finishers. Brian and Kim Kelpe, owners of MoRunCo did a great job with the event. Their staff and volunteers made sure the trail was cleared, the event was organized and a that participants could have a lot of fun.
The Meandering Turkey starts with about 100 yards of open field running to help runners establish their position before transitioning to a defined path through open woods for another half mile. After that the course becomes a single-track trail featuring plenty of hills, roots, and switchbacks as it winds through the woods. “Passing is at a premium,” warned Brian in the pre-race instructions which included some trail etiquette, strategy and a big smile.
Jockeying for Position
Even though it’s a very friendly event, I bumped shoulders with a couple guys as we jockeyed for position at the start of the race. About a half-mile in I noticed a pied piper figure ahead. A tall man dressed in brightly-colored running attire was followed closely by about a dozen women and children. My initial thought was, “That’s going to be a challenge”. But I took it in stride and just ran my race without worries of what lies ahead.
Some in that group were content with the pace while others were itching to pass. So, by the time I caught them, they were spread enough that a couple strategic passes put me back in fairly open running. I ran with a couple 10-year-olds for the next couple miles. Their pace through the hills gave me all I wanted. Their pace slowed a bit during a challenging third mile. Finding an ideal space in the trail, I passed the two young men. It was encouraging to see young people committed to competing in the race I found so challenging.
For the last couple miles, I maintained about a forty-yard buffer between the people ahead and behind me. Close enough to feel connected, but enough distance to feel free to run at a comfortable pace. Even though I spent most of the race looking down at the trail, it was great to run up and down the hills on the dirt path through the trees. Garmin gave me credit for 60 flights of stairs up and 62 down. I’m not sure which was more challenging. My quads let me know that they were not accustomed to the demands of the terrain.
After finishing the trail run, I told myself I needed to get out here and do this more often. If history is any indicator, I’ll be back again next year for my annual trek through the trail at Klaus Park.