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Shoe music: The sounds of Turkey Trot

CLEARWATER — For 15 years, the Turkey Trot Five Plus Four band has set up at the very same spot on race day. For 15 years, the band has played college fight songs.

Over. And over. And over again.

Nothing else. All morning long.

"We must of played these songs hundreds of times," said John DeGelleke, a trumpet player and one of several longtime members who return each year for the Times Turkey Trot.

As runners raced past the band at Hercules Avenue and Druid Road in Clearwater, their focused grimaces melted into cheek-splitting smiles. Those furiously pumping their arms slowed long enough to wave.

More than 10 bands, with nearly 50 performers, took to the city's streets Thanksgiving morning in support of the runners and the hundreds of fans who lined the race course for the 30th Times Turkey Trot.

From bagpipers to steel drummers to hard rockers, the soundtrack of Thursday's races was something more apt for a music festival.

With one to two musical acts per mile, the performers were spread over distance rather than time, turning the miles of city pavement into one gigantic, eclectic stage.

The growth of the musical aspect of the event grew through the neighborhoods the races are run through. The Turkey Trot Five Plus Four actually has played the past 20 years.

Through the first seven years, the band would show up at various points along the course and set up shop. But as the Turkey Trot grew into the event it is today, more and more musicians arrived.

Now, the Turkey Trot Five Plus Four have a permanent location.

"We like where we are at," DeGelleke said. "We don't hear the other bands or get to see them from we're at."

Just before the mile marker of the opening race, the 5K Wingding (a 3.1-mile course), a reggae band played as the first wave of runners hustled past.

Later on, a hard rock group jammed as Keene Road became thick with runners. A few blocks up, a bluegrass group prepared for another set. In the miles that followed, runners heard punk rockers and jazz musicians.

By the time they reached the backstretch, runners were pumping their fists, waving or pointing in recognition as they heard college fight songs from the Turkey Trot Five Plus Four.

Some runners even danced.

"I was really getting into the music," said Hiram Garcia, 24, of Tampa. "This was my first time running here, and I was surprised to see so many bands performing. It really keeps you going and gives you that encouragement to finish the race."

The elite runners, though, did not need a push.

In the men's 5K Wingding, Florida Southern's Tyrone Bell won for the second straight year in 15 minutes, 6 seconds. Jacki Wachtel won the women's 5K in 17:38.

Bell's college teammate, Scott Mackley, won the men's 10K Turkey Trot (a 6.2-mile race) in 31:37. Former Keswick Christian and USF standout Christa Benton won her fourth straight women's 10K in 36:27.

The were plenty of runners who followed the leaders. Race director Skip Rogers said more than 14,910 participated.

That meant the bands kept playing. And playing.

The Turkey Trot Five Plus Four did not stop until a light went off signaling the last runner had gone by.

"I think playing these songs is as much of an endurance test as it is for those running the races," DeGelleke said.



For more stories and photos from Thursday's Turkey Trot, see Pages 2, 3


Results, photos and even more Trot coverage on Pages 1C, 8C

Shoe music: The sounds of Turkey Trot 11/27/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 2, 2008 7:41pm]
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