Turkey Trot cancellation upsets Nordic community

Sylas WrightSierra Sun
File photoRacers start the Mashed Potato Mile in 2009 at West End Beach in conjunction with the Donner Lake Turkey Trot.

TRUCKEE, Calif. andamp;#8212; Touted in a press release as andamp;#8220;a true Truckee locals event come rain or shine,andamp;#8221; the annual Donner Lake Turkey Trot did not live up to its slogan this past Sunday.The town of Truckee canceled the longtime race around Donner Lake, which serves as a fundraiser for the Auburn Ski Clubandamp;#8217;s Junior Nordic programs, due to safety concerns related to snow and ice, said Town Manager Tony Lashbrook. It would have been the 35th running of the event.The decision upset members of the local Nordic community who have taken part in the Turkey Trot or the accompanying Mashed Potato Mile for years andamp;#8212; some of them decades. About 20 to 30 people showed up to race anyway, said Auburn Ski Club Nordic Director Sally Jones, who organizes the event.andamp;#8220;I would have liked to have waited on the decision,andamp;#8221; Jones said of canceling the race, which was determined three days prior; she pointed out that Sunday was clear and sunny. andamp;#8220;But (the Town of Truckee) wanted to make the call on Thursday, which was good and bad. It was good to let people know, but I donandamp;#8217;t know what their decision would have been on race morning.andamp;#8220;If it would have been my decision, we would have run the race. Thatandamp;#8217;s why we have liability insurance that covers the event.andamp;#8221;Lashbrook said the Truckee Police Department made the call to cancel the race for two reasons.andamp;#8220;One issue was that on Donner Pass Road where there is significant vehicle traffic, there was lots of snow on the shoulders, which would have forced runners into the travel lane,andamp;#8221; Lashbrook said.Secondly, he said, the town was concerned about the one steep grade on the south side of the lake near Donner State Park, which retains its ice and snow in the shadows of Shallenberger Ridge, causing slippery footing.andamp;#8220;It had snow and pack on it, and they wanted this race to go off at 9 a.m., and it appeared it would to be very slippery and dangerous,andamp;#8221; Lashbrook said.Jones argued the Turkey Trot, which typically raises about $2,500 for the Junior Nordic programs, is often held in adverse weather conditions. Itandamp;#8217;s the nature of the late-fall event, she said.andamp;#8220;Itandamp;#8217;s kind of a traditional Truckee race. There are photos from way back of guys running with frozen beards,andamp;#8221; Jones said.But there was a key difference in past years. Turkey Trot organizers had never obtained a permit from the town of Truckee before this year, Jones said, and thus never had to worry about the town getting involved. This year, Jones said she was informed she needed a permit.andamp;#8220;What I was told is that they (the town) were not aware that the event was happening (in past years). Because apparently we were supposed to have a permit, but we didnandamp;#8217;t know that and so we never had one before,andamp;#8221; Jones said. andamp;#8220;So they became aware of the event on the 35th annual.andamp;#8221;Last year a total of 150 runners and walkers completed the Turkey Trot, with another 45 participating in the Mashed Potato Mile. If the town is concerned about running the race around Donner Lake, Jones said she may have to change venues andamp;#8212; an option that was considered this year, but with too short of notice, she said.

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