NORMAN — “On the shores of Gitche Gumee,” the opening line of the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem “The Song of Hiawatha” comes to mind as we scan the 4,000 runners participating in a local Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot.
Considering the occasion, you would think that if a poem had to pop into your head it would be about a turkey. And turkeys were plentiful on the brisk Thanksgiving morning.
As you would expect, there were turkeys on the prize table and some runners got into the spirit of things with turkey headgear: the plucked and baked turkey hat bobbed on the heads of the silly and brave; while others preferred the “live” turkey complete with feathers, wattles included.
While we waited for the race to start, a couple of kids were engaged in a turkey neck “fight,” which is similar to ticked off giraffes smacking each other with their necks, but not as loud or dangerous. The kids’ version entailed lowering the head and swinging the turkey neck at the opponent’s turkey neck. The resulting giggles and further good natured thwacking was enjoyed by the participants as well as several bystanders.
Actually, the poem came to mind because several runners showed up in American Indian garb of one sort or another. However, the trio dressed from head to toe with feather headdresses, “leather” clothes and long braids stood out from the crowd, particularly the older woman with white-haired braids down to her rumpus.
Two young women wore something akin to colorful ballet tutus, but upon closer observation those things were in fact turkey tails. As an imitation tom turkey passed the tutu tails, he yelled “Like your turkey tails, ladies.” Now, that’s a unique pickup line. Wonder how long it took him to think that up?
The Turkey Trot benefited the miracle League of Frisco, Texas, which gives children with mental and/or physical problems the chance to play team sports. In fact, the first race was the Miracle Mile run by such disabled children.
Aside from the beautiful, sunny morning, perhaps the first race was responsible for putting everyone in a benevolent mindset. Consequently, as we passed or ran along side the hundreds of runners — of all ages, shapes and sizes — the predominant thought was “Good for you” rather than “Get the Hades out of my way.”
One mother was overheard warning her seven year old son at the start of the 5K run, “Stay with me or you’ll get trampled like last year.”
To achieve the primary objective of getting from the Starting Line to the Finish Line, one had to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Some ran all the way. Some alternated between running and walking, while the rest walked as fast as their legs would allow.
Along the route, the runners were serenaded by several musicians of varying talents, but the beat managed to perk up the spirits as did the signs, such as: “This is the worst parade I ever saw” or “Stop reading the signs and keep on running.”
Perhaps seasoned runners had no problem, but for the novices one of the challenges was to run, grab a cup of water or Gatorade and drink without spilling the stuff all over your nice clean T-shirts. Some managed quite well, while others just stopped, tossed back the drink, then continued running.
Ours was a three generation event: the matriarch, the daughter and the granddaughters. It was fun and it seems we have added another tradition for our family to enjoy. My challenge for the next race is to match or beat the 35 minute effort set by the eldest granddaughter.
Yours truly was sixth in my age group (the decrepit and ancient category), and my makeup was only slightly smudged.
Elizabeth is a freelance writer and author. Website: www.elizabethcowan.com. Check out her new novel, “The Dionysus Connection,” on Amazon.com.