There may not be competition as part of the annual Thanksgiving Turkey Trot, although officials at Russell High School will confirm there is heated action between friendly adversaries leading up to this year’s event to benefit Helping Hands.
“It’s been a playoff atmosphere the last week. We’ve trash talked each other,” said Russell High School academic dean Shawn Moore, explaining the rivalry between Thompson’s Trotters (named in honor of Principal Alan Thompson) at the high school and Horne’s Hunters (named for Principal Sean Horne) at nearby Russell Middle School.
English teacher Regina Rice said the challenge arose after Russell Middle School English teacher Carol Digby commented about her own training for the annual Turkey Trot held in downtown Russell every year on Thanksgiving morning, as well as other middle school staff members who plan to get in on the fun. Digby suggested the staff at the high school make a similar effort and the friendly challenge quickly developed.
“I think it’s the first time the two schools have done anything together,” she noted.
Moore said the goal for each school is to have the most participants and non-perishable food contributions. Whichever school brings the least will pay for it by appearing at a faculty meeting in the other’s school to sing “Jingle Bells.” While the penalty may not sound too extreme, Moore cautions “You haven’t heard us sing.”
With warning shots fired, Rice and Moore smile as they track the exchange of jibes, including signs aimed at the enemy camp.
“It’s even gone high tech,” Moore said with a chuckle, explaining staff members have sent electronic messages including the theme from “Rocky” and “Chariots of Fire.”
Russell High School’s Ruthie Lynd, one of the Turkey Trot organizers along with members of the school’s Fellowship of Christian Athletes, said there is an excellent forecast for this year’s run and walk, with a strong chance of eclipsing last year’s participation level.
“Last year we had the most ever with 500 people, but with this boost ... I don’t know,” Lynd said, adding there is no pre-registration for the community event, although she has been receiving an abundance of email inquiries about this year’s Turkey Trot.
Last year was also the first year with participants running and walking in costumes, including pilgrims and at least one oversized turkey, Lynd said, adding she would be thrilled to see even more participants dressed up for this year’s event.
Rice said the Turkey Trot is open to everyone, and ultimately benefits the entire community. “You don’t have to be an athlete ... just walk,” she said. Lynd said the annual trot through downtown Russell and along the Ohio River has become a family affair for many and a reunion for others, including former Russel students who now participate along with their own children or grandchildren.
“It’s just part of the tradition now,” Moore concluded.
The annual Turkey Trot kicks off at 8:30 a.m. Thursday with group photo sessions at Lifesong Church, and the actual run/walk starting at 9 a.m. at the Russell Super Quick. Even though the Turkey Trot is not a race, Lynd said many runners will appreciate a large clock provided by Tri-State Racer at the finish line for this year’s event.
Lynd said the staff at Helping Hands have requested non-perishable food donations including stuffing mix, instant potatoes, soups, canned meats such as tuna and chicken, macaroni and cheese, cranberry sauce and cake/brownie mixes.
For more information about the 2012 Turkey Trot in downtown Russell, call (606) 836-9658.
TIM PRESTON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.