Turkey Trot: 55 Years Later
The First “Turkey Trot was held on a Wednesday in November of 1956 as a campus wide event gearing up for the big football game with the winners receiving an actual turkey as the prize. The race course at that time was approximately 1.3 miles long, that included using the old Taylor Stadium where the Rauch Business and Zoellner buildings now stand. The event that year brought 158 students and as the years went on, so did the popularity and in 1971, females were now part of the student body and they would rightfully take their place in this race. In 1971, it has been documented that 1160 entrants registered to run with 749 actually finishing the race! This would also be the same year that the course would change to include the upper part of campus know as “the hill” and bring the length of the run to 2.6 miles for which we have tried to maintain to this day. However with the Campus forever changing, we have had to revisit, reroute and redo the course over the years but have kept the tradition alive. The Maginees lawn would no longer be the start and finish of the race as we have moved the start just up the hill to the front of Packer church and now finish on the UC Lawn near the Flag Pole.
Over the years, things have changed…. In the beginning, fraternity winners would be rewarded with a 30-35 lb bird that would be cooked and shared with all of the brothers in the house prior to departing campus for the Thanksgiving break. Greg Schulze would take it one step further and have a Turkey Trot Awards dinner that was held in the ASA Packer room. As the years went by, the traditional turkey dinner would now be served to the men and women at Mountaintop in celebration of their accomplishments and later Turkey hoagies from the Goose would then be the reward for the victors. However, only 1 traditional prize remains the constant, the Trot T-shirt the biggest prize of all!
The Trot has had some “celebrities’” challenge the course. Former University President Peter Likins was escorted over the course by the Dynamic Duo, Batman and Robin. Students have dressed to impress, featuring Santa and the Elves, Pilgrims, Indians, the Big Yellow Banana, the Fruit of the Loom guys, super heroes and the list goes on!
This event has always been held prior to the Lehigh Lafayette football game. It was prompted as the “kick off” for the week but decades later, our students are highly involved on a campus that offers 150 other clubs and organizations, but one thing remains, the Trot is a part of the Lehigh Tradition and let’s hope that our students, faculty and staff continue to support this Intramural Ritual. Too many “traditions” fade and this is one that has had a long standing of participation and excitement throughout the years. This year, Rivalry long sleeve t-shirts will be provided to the first 220 people to complete the course and cross the finish line. Plus one lucky winner will receive a Campus Athletics Corn – O game! Let’s get involved because some day, you will be proud to say “I ran the Turkey Trot” and conquered the hill.