As a drone circled overhead capturing video, nine Berkeley High School students and John Villavicencio, BHS director of student activities, lined up on the football field to start the turkey trot. Despite being advertised as the hundredth annual, this was the first year that BHS hosted a turkey trot.
“Yeah, so it’s not the hundredth annual, but it’s fun to make up those kind of like, random things,” Villavicencio said of his advertising strategy for the race on November 17, the Thursday before Thanksgiving.
“In my hometown … we did (a turkey trot) at my school … and I remember it being really competitive,” Villavicencio said. He added that he won his school’s turkey trot as a kid, which is “probably why it’s a stronger memory in my mind… I’ve been wanting to try to do this for a couple years.”
Students who participated in the turkey trot ran a route along the football field in the shape of a hand drawn turkey, stopped at a table, drew a turkey by tracing their hand, and then carried their drawing across the finish line with them. The top five finishers were rewarded with a donation in their name to the Alameda County Food Bank.
“I’m just trying to do something wacky and fun without the like, ‘you’re gonna run two miles’ and … all the cross country kids come out and just kick everyone’s butt,” Villavicencio said.
The first two students to cross the finish line forgot to bring their turkey drawings with them, and had to go back to the turkey drawing table. Villavicencio crossed the line third, the first successful finisher, but was not considered an official racer. Thus, Jack Mackey-Williams, who came in just behind Villavicencio, was declared first place.
“I’m a cross country runner and I thought it’d be a fun experience to run the turkey trot,” Mackey-Williams said. “It was fun… I think I’d do it again next year.”
In addition to runners, members of the club Soccer Without Borders were also present at the turkey trot.
“I’m a part of the club Soccer Without Borders and we were called here today for a mandatory meeting to assist and help out,” said Sonia Sullivan. As assigned by the club presidents, partnering with the turkey trot for the day, Sullivan was responsible for supervising the turkey drawing table and, “making sure everyone was doing the correct task, making sure no one was cheating.”
Sullivan said that she does not plan on helping out again next year, “because I will be running it!”