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Turkey Trot draws thousands for pre-feast fun

Kate Alexander

On Thanksgiving Day, Chris Conlan of Austin enjoyed the sweet taste of victory along with his potatoes and pie.

Conlan didn't finish first in Thursday's Turkey Trot, but he did win a bet.

Dressed from head to toe as a turkey, he ran the entire five-mile race in less than 35 minutes, besting the 7-minute-mile time challenge set by a friend — a feat that will get him absolutely nothing other than his name in the paper.

"It was so hot," Conlan said after removing his sweaty felt cap. "It was a blast, though."

More than 21,000 other trotters joined Conlan downtown for the 21st annual run and walk sponsored by ThunderCloud Subs.

The event, which last year raised $255,000, benefits Caritas of Austin, a nonprofit group that helps provide homeless and low-income Austinites with food, housing and other basic needs. The Turkey Trot has generated more than $1.25 million for Caritas since 1991.

On a warm autumn morning, the race had a low-key feel.

Participants were still ambling toward the South First Street bridge with their dogs and baby strollers when the race winner crossed the finish line 25 minutes after starting.

"This whole event is about family and having fun," said Melody Taylor , who has run the race five times, including twice dressed as a banana.

"People are tickled by the banana suit," she said.

The banana peel dangled awkwardly around her legs, a less than ideal situation for running.

But she powered through, undaunted and full of enthusiasm.

"I run as a triumphant banana," Taylor said, arms lifted in the air.

For the Warrick family, this was the last Thanksgiving before the eldest daughter, Eden, heads off to college.

So all five of them — parents Scott and Brenda, along with Eden, Catherine and Ingrid — hoofed it across the finish line together.

"It's a great way to start Thanksgiving morning on a beautiful, crisp day before we overindulge," Brenda Warrick said.

kalexander@statesman.com; 445-3618