Runner Chris Conlan Talks Turkey
When Chris Conlan suits up for the ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot every year, he doesn’t reach for spandex and sweat-wicking tanks. Instead, he puts on a brown and orange fleece turkey costume — and racers and spectators alike gobble up Chris’s Thanksgiving shenanigans!
He’s run the Turkey Trot since high school, but didn’t opt for the turkey costume until 2012. He kicked off the Kids’ K event that year with a few other turkeys, including Ellie Haggerty, a longtime friend and the daughter of ThunderCloud co-owner Mike Haggerty. Then, as Chris prepared for the 5-miler, a friend dared him to run the race with waddles and snoods flying. He did, and the tradition was born!
Chris is currently on his second costume (the first one wore out after four Turkey Trots) and has become a connoisseur of sorts. “I like the full-body turkey costume that has the face open, eyes on top and wings in the back,” he says. “Some years it’s insanely hot and miserable, but I always look forward to it. It really fires up all the kids!”
In fact, his biggest fan might just be his 3-year-old son. “He loved the costume when it came in the mail,” says Chris. “He thinks it’s hilarious whenever I put it on.” (So did the Austin American-Statesman, which featured Chris in 2012!)
But the turkey costume also represents lightheartedness in the midst of more serious situations. When Chris’s grandmother was battling terminal cancer three years ago at Seton Medical Center Austin, he visited her in costume immediately after the race. He chatted with other patients and even gave Communion during the chapel’s televised Mass. “All the patients were so happy and thought it was so funny,” he says. “It was amazing to see how much it brightened their day.”
This year, Chris and his turkey suit will kick off the Kids’ K for the sixth straight time and then run the 5-miler with his son in the jogging stroller. Post-race, he and his family will head home for a well-earned nap. Then it’s time to dig in — Chris will indulge in his favorite cheesy potato casserole and a couple of pieces of pumpkin pie. “I’m a sucker for dessert!” he says.
And why not? He has 364 days to make sure that turkey costume fits for next year’s Turkey Trot!