The Turkey Day 8K, the Marion Avenue hill, and me

By Phillip Stone, former PAL board member

Running in the Turkey Day 8k has become part of my Thanksgiving tradition.

I first ran in the 8k in 2010, and I’ve been in it every year since.  I use the word “run” loosely, since I usually start off running and somewhere about halfway up the hill on Marion Avenue, I fall back into something that might be better described as a leisurely amble until I can catch my breath and resume my pace.  The year I finally made it up that hill without having to stop and walk was a moral victory.  I’ll never win a pair of the coveted socks, but my goal every year is to be able to run the whole 8 kilometers without having to slow down and walk parts of it.  I have not made it yet, partly because every fall, I get so busy with all sorts of other projects that I don’t have time to run enough in the few weeks before. Poor excuse, I know.

The TD8K starts at 7:30 am, rain or shine, mild, cold, or frigid, on Morgan Square, winding its way around the city until it finishes back on the square.  I can remember it being misty one year, pleasantly mild for late November a few times, and then there was that one year when it was about 24 degrees at 7:30.  That was cold! 

When I joined PAL’s board of directors in 2012, I became more aware of some of the behind the scenes work that goes on to put on the 8k every year.  What had started out as a fairly small event had gotten pretty large, with well over 1,000 participants even 5 years ago.  The board and the staff, after looking strategically at the TD8K along with all of PAL’s other projects, thought that with some effort, the TD8K could have a greater impact on PAL and on the community, too.  Keeping the price of entry as a healthy canned good has given literally tons of food to Total Ministries.  But if PAL could find a way to raise some money along the way, that could help support some other parts of the organization’s mission. The PAL staff in particular has worked to increase sponsorships each year so that the event has been able to grow, help the organization, and remain a free event for anyone in Spartanburg who wants to participate.  And they’ll be happy to sell you a t-shirt as well.  The event has become so successful that the staff has had to shift the route slightly this year to accommodate the number of runners.

Of course, not everyone who participates runs - there are plenty of folks who walk.  And others, particularly my neighbors in Hampton Heights, which has a segment of the route, will come out and cheer on the runners.   A few years ago, some Hampton Heights residents even started a water station along Spring Street, near the end of the race.

A few years ago, my sister, who works for the Charleston police department, ran the 8k with me.  She had a few observations- one, Spartanburg has a lot of hills, and two, everyone was so grateful to the city of Spartanburg police officers who were out stopping traffic along the route.  Last year my brother-in-law ran it as well, although my sister told him it was a 5K and only as they were on their way to meet me that morning did she admit to him that it was an 8K.  I think he has forgiven us. 

I haven’t ever been able to run the entire course, but I’m still going to try this year.  Maybe this will be my year! 

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