By Jason Sethre
Fillmore County Journal
I’ve been a voluntary victim of the Fillmore County Turkey Day run for 12 consecutive years, since it’s inception as the brainchild of Ross Kiehne, Jim Peters, Craig Britton, Jason Schwarz, and myself.
When we started this event, it was pretty much an open invitation to anyone who wanted to run along with us on Thanksgiving morning. We had been running together on the Root River State Bike Trail on Saturday mornings, usually around five miles.
The idea of the TDR (Turkey Day Run) came up as a way to burn some calories before we consume mounds of Thanksgiving fixings on that thankful Thursday each year. We used to run 10.3 miles from Lanesboro to Preston. With trail construction last year, we switched to an 11.2-mile route from Lanesboro to Fountain. This year, we made it a little easier on ourselves and started at the top of the mountain in Fountain. So, it was an 11.2-mile descent from Fountain to Lanesboro. Still not easy.
Twelve years later, the event is still running.
But, I have to say that this year the miles seemed a little longer than years past for this guy.
I remember back in 2012, I had just finished recovering from a kidney stone removal surgery five days before the TDR, and I ran it anyway. It wasn’t easy, but I finished.
That was a memorable one. But most of the TDRs are unforgettable for one reason or another.
One year, the temperature at the start of the run was nine degrees below zero and it was zero degrees when we finished the run.
And, over the years, we’ve had more people get involved in different ways. Our daughter Olivia started doing the design work for the shirts and stocking caps. My wife and son have been regular runners of the TDR over the years.
But, this year was the big year for our son and myself.
He’s become a better runner with time, and I knew the day would come when he would beat me. I just hoped it would be further down the road.
To start this year’s run, Mike Johnson, a dairy farmer outside of Fountain, ran with Landon (our son) and myself. Mike is an outstanding runner. We kept a decent pace (for myself) for the first six miles, but around the three-mile mark I started feeling the pain in my left ankle and right thigh. These stem from old injuries that only activate when pushed to the limit.
Around 6.5 miles into the run, I told Landon and Mike to go on without me. I had to slow down and walk a bit.
I kept running, and then walking when the pain kicked in. It’s kind of funny. As a long-time runner, I’m self-conscious about keeping myself in the running mode regardless of speed. I don’t like to walk, especially when someone comes along and witnesses me slacking.
Another runner from Minneapolis came up behind me and I finished the last stretch of the 11.2 miles with him. If he didn’t come along, I probably would have continued to walk. The presence and determination of others by your side is sometimes just enough to keep you going even when you’d like to slow down or stop altogether.
I do have some points to share with this story about my running woes.
I’m glad our son continued to run along with Mike Johnson, because running with those who challenge you will only make you better. Those are inspiring moments when you dig a little deeper to take it to the next level.
For me, running events have never been about winning. I’m always competing with myself. How am I doing compared to what I am capable of accomplishing?
The most important thing for me with this event each year is to finish. Right around the eight-mile mark, I was thinking how much I would have loved to have seen the finish line a little sooner.
And, when I can barely walk the rest of the day, because my legs are sore, that’s humbling.
Lastly, I know I’m getting older and the TDR won’t be getting any easier. But, I’ll do it again, so I can enjoy the best part – crossing the finish line.
I would like to congratulations Rushford’s Tyler Rislov. He and his two younger brothers have been TDR participants the past three years, with Tyler winning the event in 2019 and 2020. He’s an incredible runner, finishing in sixth place at the recent Minnesota state high school cross country meet.
And, then there’s Casey Olson. He won this year’s event with a time of 62 minutes and 45 seconds. Yes, that’s 11.2 miles in just a little over an hour. Very impressive! And, he found the 18-pound turkey at the end of the run, hiding out in Lanesboro’s famous telephone booth.
Congratulations and thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s Fillmore County Turkey Day Run!