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Turkey Trot Triumph

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Turkey Trot

On your mark, get set, gooooooo! Sassy, the official BakerRipley Turkey Trot mascot, lines up at the start line with all the under-12 runners ready to start the Kids Race.

Early Thanksgiving morning in 2013, my husband Andrew, then-preteen son, Thomas and I drove over to The Galleria area for the 5K Houston Turkey Trot. Getting up before 7 a.m. on our day off sounded good a week before but now that it was here, we were slow to get going.
It was our first time doing the event, but sporting our turquoise long-sleeve Turkey Trot race shirts with number bibs proudly pinned on our chests, we felt like 5K professionals.
We dusted off our sneakers and laced them up tight but, at that point, the only place our shoes were running was late! We sped towards The Galleria and discovered that there were gravy boat loads of cars and not many spots left. After what felt like longer than the Pilgrims crossing the Atlantic in the Mayflower, we finally found a place to park.
By the time we hustled to the start line, it was a ghost town. But we weren’t throwing in our turkey towels yet. Squinting, we could see specks of trotters on the horizon. I told Andrew and Thomas  to go ahead and waved goodbye as they headed off in hot pursuit. 
I straightened my velvety head-stuck-in-the-cavity-of-a-turkey-carcass-with-legs-sticking-up-like-antennae Thanksgiving hat on my head and got ready to start my trek.
Before I got going, I couldn’t resist a photo with the adorable Turkey Trot mascot, Sassy. She was all geared up in her sweatband, race t-shirt, gym shorts, voluptuous bright yellow legs and giant sneakers longer and wider than Hakeem Olajuwon’s. She blew me a gobbly kiss.
I was on a mission to not make my speedier family members have to wait until Christmas for me to reach the finish line. Seeing some of my fellow “slow and steady wins the race” people up ahead encouraged me to pick up the pace. 
I smiled and said hello to some very kind 90-somethings with speedy walkers and refrained from doing a fist pump when I passed them. It was official. I wasn’t last.
I took a photo at the mile marker number one sign, tossed back a Dixie cup of water and continued on my merry way. Look out mile marker number two! 
The next group I come upon weren’t your typical speed-challenged folks. They were of various ages, looking pretty fit and wearing their bibs over regular street clothes. They occasionally looked up at some of the office buildings and took pictures. Perhaps they were tourists?! I didn’t know; I was just happy to have a few more people behind me.
Wow! I made it to Marker #2. This time, I chugged two Dixie cups of water and wondered if a local dentist’s office donated these things. Sweat was soaking up in the forehead part of my turkey hat. The sun was starting to beat down. I should have brought my shades. Ahhhh. Thanksgiving in Texas.
Two out of three miles done! I just might actually finish this thing without having to take a ride in the courtesy “Injured and Fatigued” white van that had been tailgating me. 
After a while, I started to hear music. Is that an ice cream truck? Oh, wait! I suddenly realized I could see the finish line about five intersections ahead! I laughed, recognizing the same streets where I usually drive my car and couldn’t believe I had just walked that. I looked over my shoulder and the street sweeper driver at the end of the race gave me a congratulatory thumbs up. 

Karen, Thomas and Andrew Fuller were very happy to successfully finish their first Turkey Trot in 2013. Karen’s turkey hat miraculously stayed on the entire time!

Like a happy movie ending, Andrew and Thomas, my smiling and waving fan club of two, were waiting for me at the finish line. I heard the Rocky theme song in my head as I ran across the finish line, hands triumphantly in the air! The Turkey Trot officials handed me a medal as I cross the finish line! It felt fantastic around my neck! 
We headed to the after party to celebrate with some apples, bananas, granola bars and toasted our bottled waters. We bumped into our Thomas’s marathon-loving Pin Oak Middle School principal, Susan Monaghan. Our family high fived. Hopefully now she’ll think we’re one of those cool fit families. 
We spotted my new friend, Sassy. She gave all three of us a big feathery winged hug and shook her Houston Turkey Trot logo tattoo-ed hiney at us. We smiled for a family Facebook-worthy photo with our favorite gobbler. 
We felt thankful for so many things including the look of shock we knew we’d see on our extended family’s faces at Thanksgiving dinner later that day when we showed up wearing our awesome Turkey Trot medals bling, which would be even more rewarding that winning the wishbone pull!  

The Fullers are happy to report that, since that first Trot, they have participated in more Turkey Trots over the years and still get excited when they see their favorite turkey pal, Sassy. Gobble! Gobble!  

Grace, Graham and Lee Newick at their first Houston Turkey Trot in 2012. Dad Glenn is the non-runner in charge of cheering at the finish line, photos and holding coats and waters. This year will be the Newick family's eighth year in a row to participate in the event. 

2019 BakerRipley Houston Turkey Trot
The 2019 Houston Turkey Trot includes a 5K, 10K and Kids Run and takes place in the Galleria area Thurs., Nov. 28 starting at 7:30 a.m. Online registration is available until 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 27 or register on race day in the Dillard’s parking lot (4925 Westheimer) starting at 6 a.m.  

Turkey Trot Tips
Writer Karen Vine Fuller and Trot veteran, Lee Newick, share some tips for a successful Turkey Trotting time:

  • Join in the fun and wear your festive turkey, pilgrim and feather gear. 
  • Karen suggests parking in the Orange Parking Garage in the Galleria but check road closures. Lee Newick, who with her husband, Glenn and kids, Grace and Graham, has been participating in the Turkey Trot since 2012, suggests parking on Richmond near Post Oak and walking to the starting line. See more information about parking and road closures here.  
  • Have a backup location to meet up during the walk or after the race if you don’t find each other at the finish line. See the course map here.
  • Bring a small backpack to keep some bottled waters, clothing and after-party giveaways. 
  • Smile big as you get near the finish line. Professional photos will be taken and available for purchase later if you’d like.  
  • Looking for motivation? Mama Lee’s rule for her family is that if you don’t participate, you don’t get to enjoy the traditional homemade cranberry bread awaiting back at home. “Works every year,” she said. 

Editor’s Note: Read about Turkey Trotting with little ones in this Buzz Baby article from 2018. Find more ideas of what to do Thanksgiving week with friends and family here.  

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