Last Wednesday was Thanksgiving Eve with Piedmont’s Turkey Trot the next day and the probability of overeating in the forecast. The morning was also forecast to be beautiful, so it was a great time for the Piedmont Recreation Department’s Walking on Wednesdays group to bring these elements together. They were ready for a “Turkey Walk.”
It was fairly quiet at the Exedra, but the walkers knew that the following morning there would be about 2,000 runner/walkers all around this space. The walkers also realized that there was no chance that any of them could win that race, and receive a pie or whatever the winner now gets, but they figured if they got an early start this Wednesday morning, they would be the first ones across the finish line this year, and have some bragging rights. So, the Piedmont Turkey Trot 5K course through the city was selected as the walkers’ route for the morning. Alicia Rivera displayed her school teacher knowledge by telling the group that 5K race is 3.1 miles. It’s a long course, but the walkers knew they could handle it.
Mary and Dick Carter showed off their race fashion sense with vintage Piedmont Turkey Trot t-shirts; but Marion Lim Yankowitz, took the cake, figuratively, not literally, with one from 2004. Like many walking regulars, Elise Collins was out of town for the holiday, and couldn’t make the walk, but she emailed in and encouraged the group to “break a turkey leg.” In total, there were 23 walkers ready to go.
The walkers learned from an article in the Post that the Turkey Trot was founded 20 years before. It originally was a fund raiser for the Piedmont High track and cross country teams, but over the years has morphed into the City’s second biggest event. Only the 4th of July Parade draws more people to Piedmont’s city center.
There was some confusion as to what the exact Turkey Trot was. Dick Carter had gone to the Turkey Trot website and copied down the course. He thought it said the runners were to go all the way up La Salle Avenue to Hampton Avenue. However, his wife, Mary, who was off from her Wildwood School work because of the holiday, was sure that a revised course had been created that took a left at St. James and went up to Hampton. Dick didn’t want to take the chance that the walkers wouldn’t be able to make their first-to-finish claim because they took a shorter route, so the group stayed with the longer one. It turned out, after checking later, that Mary was right, as wives always are.
The course called for the walkers to go down Highland Avenue to Wildwood Avenue and up it to Crocker Avenue. There was still some color on the trees and gardeners were working, gathering fallen leaves with their blowers. Their holiday was yet to come. The walkers were strung out in a long line, but paused at Lafayette Avenue, before going down it, so that the more leisurely walkers could catch up with those who had course records in mind. Lafayette magically becomes La Salle Avenue when it bounces off Woodland Way, and the group continued up La Salle, and across Crocker. In the next block a roller blader sped past them. This seemed like a clear violation of the rules, but there were no race judges available to disqualify him.
The group went up La Salle, past Indian Road and then St. James Drive, going what turned out to be the extra quarter mile. They managed the short, steep climb up Hampton Road and then back down it to Sea View Avenue. On Sea View there was a front yard with the first Christmas holiday house decorations of the season, and also a home with a fun, inflatable turkey football player with ball under its wing. Through more street magic, Sea View turns into Mountain Avenue, and then a right on Craig Avenue, past the original home of Hugh Craig, Piedmont’s first mayor, got the group back to Highland. The Exedra was once again in sight, but the course was not completed. To do it in its entirety, the walkers had to go down Vista Avenue past City Hall to Hillside Avenue and then up Magnolia for the final not-a-sprint to the finish line. Some of the early finishers made a raised-arms tunnel for the last walkers to go through, and also provided congratulatory cheers.
Going the entire 5K course, and a little extra, made the walkers fully aware that the Turkey Trot 5K race is a long run, and they appreciated the stamina of the runners who would do the next morning. The walkers’ times of just about one hour and twenty minutes were a little off the 15 minutes and 54 seconds that an 18-year race winner did in 2017. However, the walkers undoubtedly experienced less pain and no less enjoyment. It was a fun walk on a beautiful morning. The group is looking forward to doing it again next Thanksgiving Eve.