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Trottin' Turkeys

Hope everyone's Thanksgiving was great. It was Thanksgiving Eve last Wednesday and members of our Piedmont Recreation Department's Walking on Wednesdays group were where we always are at 10:30 AM on Wednesdays, in front of the Exedra. It was a lovely morning and 36 walkers and one K-9 best friend were there to enjoy the weather, being together, and work on our Thanksgiving dinner appetites.

However, we were there for another reason too. We knew 2,400 runner/walkers were going to be on this very spot the next morning for the Piedmont Turkey Trot, and we were there to get a head start on them. We would walk the Turkey Trot route this day before Thanksgiving, and be the first across the race's finish line.

Before we got started, thanks were given for the friendships that have come from our Wednesday walking (and talking) group, and some Thanksgiving race information was shared. According to "Run Signup," over 750,000 Americans participated in a turkey trot last Thanksgiving in one of over 730 races across the U.S. The Piedmont Turkey Trot is conducted by a non-profit that supports local charities and organizations, the PHS Cross Country and Track and Field teams, and the PHS Athletic Boosters. This was the 22nd year for the Piedmont Turkey Trot. It started in 2001 with 300 runners. Participation was as high as 3,100 one year, but that size was considered unsafe, and the number of runners was capped at 2,400 this year. Awards are given for the top three male and female finishers in the following categories: 13 and under, 14-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70-79, and 80+. Most of us fell into the latter categories.

Last year's Piedmont Turkey Trot overall winner was Walter T. He completed the course in 16 minutes and two seconds, with an average 5:10 minutes per mile pace. We did not think we would challenge Walter's time or pace, but we would do the entire Turkey Trot 5K route, which is 3.1 miles. And the walker who finished the course first would be declared the Wednesday

Walkers' winner, and receive a hearty handshake from me as his/her prize.

Surprisingly, the Turkey Trot banner was not yet up at the race start/finish line on Magnolia Avenue, but we got a fast start anyway, going down Highland Avenue. Along Highland a homeowner must have thought we needed to be cooled off because their sprinkler was showering the sidewalk. We stepped around the water, and took a left on Wildwood Avenue, rights on Crocker and Lafayette Avenues, and a left on La Salle Avenue. At the corner of Lafayette

and La Salle we stopped to catch our breaths, and take a group photo with a view of San Francisco in the background.

Further down La Salle, at the course's one mile spot, homeowner Scott S somehow knew we were coming by, and rang a one-mile bell for us. We raced on, taking lefts on St. James Drive and Hampton Road, and a right up Sea View Avenue to tackle its long "Heartbreak Hill" ascent. At Sea View's top, we then floated down Mountain Avenue to Craig, Highland, and Vista Avenues. However, walkers needed to go all the way down Vista Avenue, take a left on Hillside Avenue, then go up Magnolia past the high school, for a final push to the finish line at the Exedra. The requirement to go down to Hillside tripped up some walkers, figuratively but not literally, because

they took a shortcut down Bonita Avenue down to Magnolia, and were unfortunately disqualified.

It was a contested finish, but Russ Nelson pulled away in the home stretch to be the first walker across the still imagined finish line. Russ had an unofficial time of one hour thirteen minutes and forty-five seconds. However, all of us were winners. We had fun, some exercise, and good conservations with friends. We expect to be back next week, and once again next Thanksgiving Eve to be the first ones to do the Piedmont Turkey Trot route.


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