MOST GRACIOUS REPEAT WINNER: Fast conditions at the 30th running of the Times Turkey Trot gave runners from Florida Southern College something to cheer about. Lakeland's Tyrone Bell won the 5K Wingding with a time of 15 minutes, 6 seconds. This year's victory is his second in a row.
"Conditions were great in Clearwater on race morning," Bell said, while joking with his FSC teammaters in the Jack White Stadium infield after the event.
"Actually, the temperature seemed to drop when I was running down that Cemetery Hill. Now, I'll just hang out with my friends, because it's too far to go back and forth to Lakeland just to eat dinner over there. I love it here!"
Bell ran his first mile in 4 minutes, 44 seconds, according to St. Pete Forerunners Track Club Coach Joe Burgasser, who provided race commentary during the 5-kilometer Wingding from the timing truck.
"These guys from Florida Southern College are all in the pack behind Tyrone Bell," Burgasser observed.
"One of them may make a break for it, but the leader will win by more than 200-300 meters." He did, and he made it look easy.
CRAZY COSTUMES: Festive runners and 1-mile walkers arrived at this year's Turkey Trot walking their outfitted dogs and wearing turkeys on their heads, Santa hats, reindeer antlers, and King Arthur garb. Even Baby Jogger racing strollers were decorated for the holidays.
For a moment, Keene Road looked like Alii Drive at Ironman Hawaii. Just before the start of the Turkey Trot 10-kilometer, the top male runners could be seen making a fashion statement by wearing multisport's latest: trendy compression knee-high socks worn with shorts.
Hoping to break the top 20 overall, Clearwater's Charlie Anstadt raced in his white knee-high socks, and so did triathlete Dallas Rose, of Oldsmar.
Triathlete and local race director Freddie Rzymek promised to wear his 80s Speedo swimsuit with his compression knee-high socks, but "chickened out" in the morning after he claimed his thermometer did not reach 60 degrees by 7 a.m.
BEST HAT: Worn by Kristy Cheatham, of Clearwater — a stuffed turkey mounted on a hat, accompanied by the biggest and brightest yellow sunglasses you ever saw.
BEST GROUP COSTUME: Worn by Jason Parvas, Jimmy Rodenburg, and Chip, Brian, and Steve Schultz, all of Safety Harbor — a gold-crowned King Arthur and his Knights Of The Round Table, wearing tights, smocks, and robes, while each carried two coconut halves, which they banged together, creating the Monty Python clip-clop clattering sound of approaching horses' hooves.
THAT LAST CORNER: Dunedin High School sent out a friendly group of students from the Scottish Highlanders to play their bagpipes for runners finishing the main event, the Turkey Trot 10K, all morning until 10 a.m.
Scottish Highlanders stood and played at the corner of Druid Road and South Arcturas Avenue, also known as Turkey Trot Lane. Each year, the green sign appears, naming the small northbound street that leads runners for their last few steps onto the newly refurbished Jack White Stadium Track at Clearwater High School.
Each year, the corner near Turkey Trot Lane becomes a loud spectator cheering section, full of cowbells, horns, and St. Pete Mad Dogs flags.
LANCE'S CORNER: St. Petersburg's Christa Benton ran to another victory in the Turkey Trot 10K. Benton, 24, who ran for the late coach Lance Lipham at Keswick Christian School, has been posting faster and faster times despite grieving the recent loss of her beloved coach. Keswick runners hung a huge blue banner in the Turkey Trot finish line chute, and Benton could not have missed the touching tribute, which read "Lance's Corner."
Jessica Mundie, Times Correspondent