[Tallahassee, FL] Over 5,100 men, women and children came out to support the 36th annual Tallahassee Turkey Trot community race on Esplanade Way in South Wood. It was the perfect way to begin Thanksgiving day.
I was proud to be serving as a volunteer.
There were four races available for participants of varying fitness degrees, all of which started bright and early at 8:00 a.m. I enjoyed handing out ribbons to the youth who crossed the Turkey Gobbler 1-mile race. Additionally, there was the 5k (3.1 miles), 10k (6.2 miles) and 15k (9.3 miles) races.
My responsibility was to wait at the finish line and direct traffic flow towards the appropriate exit route to ensure the area remained clear for oncoming runners. I had no idea how rewarding it would be from merely standing in the cheering section watching individuals accomplish a major fitness goal.
It was amazing to see each runner cross in their own unique way. There were some who had given every breath to cross that finish line as they coughed up internal fluids at the end of their race. One runner picked up his speed as if those last few paces would save his life. Another, hopped, jumped and skipped with great joy!
The atmosphere was charged with excitement and uncommon synergy. As myself and co-volunteer Marisa Thomas (Florida’s SUPER Ms. 2012!) chanted ‘Way to go Tallahassee!’ over and over, a woman said to us, “Thank you guys for being here clapping, I appreciate that.”
My ears began to remain open to what each Tallahassee Turkey Trot 2011 runner shouted as they stepped across the finish line. One proudly stated, “This is my first run!” I also heard in the winds, “I puked twice!”
All of a sudden it dawned on me to start gathering insight from the runners on what inspired them to run this race in the first place. One of the most moving stories was from Michelle Beitelman who held my hand the entire time, sharing her heart. It left me in tears.
“I love the opportunity to be able to come out to race with my ‘training partner family’ – then eat and be with my “real” family later,” said Beitelman, offering her motivation to participate. “God says, He wants to give me life and give it to me more abundantly. I lost my dad to diabetes, and I was overweight at one point in my life.”
“I’ve decided I never want to go back down that road,” Beitelman continued. “My husband has lost over 60 pounds and I have lost over 120 pounds. During the race, my ‘training family’ and I prayed and worshiped as we ran 9 miles … we truly are to be His unveiled faces in the world!”
After speaking with Kisha Wright, I was moved by her determination to change for the better. She lost her mother three years ago and became severely depressed. As a result of being in an emotional low place, she began to turn to food for emotional comfort which left her overweight.
She decided to take her life back and commit to a healthier way of living in this world. Good for her.
A common thread running through the participants was a desire to come together as a community for a worthy and shared cause.
“I feel great, it’s wonderful to be part of a community event with family and friends early in the morning,” offered Ally Fields about being a part of the Turkey Trot. “Now that it’s over, we are able to now go home and cook Thanksgiving Dinner.”
Fields’ close friend Sharon Smith was in agreement, saying that, “Not only does this race benefit a great cause, but it also allows us the opportunity to compete with ourselves, as well as family and friends.”
There is no greater reward that the fulfillment of a personal goal achieved. We celebrate those who embraced the challenge to run their race with every beat of their hearts in order to make it successfully across the Tallahassee Turkey Trot 2011 finish line in stride, with great pride and big smiles!
Way to go Tallahassee!
By: Kristie Kennedy for Sunshine Slate
Kristie Kennedy is a women’s empowerment speaker, professional makeup artist, jewelry designer, author and recording artist. She is also the current Ms. Tallahassee, FL, for Ms. Corporate America 2012 and 2010-2011 American Image National Pageant Queen. Her website is www.kristiekennedy.com.Images: www.tallyturkeytrot.com (used with permission, photos by Tom Scott, Fred Deckert or Herb Wills) Resources & information: www.tallyturkeytrot.com, www.gulfwinds.org
Tallahassee Turkey Trot