Cullen O'Neill takes third straight title in Turkey Day Run

November 23, 2007

The weather was freezing, the volunteers were nervous…but soon the runners started drifting toward the registration table for the 7th Rotary Turkey Day 5K Run, better known as the Turkey Trot. Within an hour, hundreds of people packed the Northfield Golf Club, then took to the snow-dusted streets. Just 16 minutes and 23 seconds later, Cullen O’Neill breezed across the finish line to take his third straight title. Megan Kelly won the women’s division in ??. The race is a holiday tradition, but this year it also is raising thousands of collars to help Rotary International‘s initiative to eradicate polio in the world.

In all 325 people registered to run or walk the course, but due to our notoriously lax security measures, the pack also included several unregistered canine companion runners and a smattering of snowsuited toddlers bundled into strollers. There were high school runners, the veteran men and women that make it look easy, and newcomers like 8-year-old Nick Dempsey, one of many kids learning the sport from family members who ran with them and others who cheered them on. There were runners from the Cities who came just for fun, and neighborhood walkers clearly pushing to reach personal goals.

City Councilor and Rotarian Jim Pokorney surprised and delighted the crowd by showing up — and running the course — in an elaborate turkey costume. Jim says he had a burst of inspiration Wednesday night and whipped up the suit out of items scavanged from his house and garage.

Rotary members thank everyone who ran, who volunteered, and all the sponsors who provided prizes and donations for the event, and for the fight against polio. In the 1980s, 1,000 children were infected by the disease every day in 125 countries. Today, polio cases have declined by 99 percent, with fewer than two thousand cases reported in 2006.

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