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Stuffed Into Costume Olympian Molly Seidel Aiming to be Fastest Known Turkey

By Karen Rosen | Nov. 25, 2020, 8 a.m. (ET)

Molly Seidel reacts as she crosses the finish line during the Women's U.S. Olympic marathon team trials on Feb. 29, 2020 in Atlanta.


Visitors to Maine’s Great Cranberry Island on Thanksgiving morning might catch a glimpse of a turkey hotfooting it down the road, perhaps trailed by a couple of cranberries.

The moveable feast will be part of the Peachtree Road Race, a 10K traditionally held on the Fourth of July in Atlanta.

When the race was pushed back to Thanksgiving due to the pandemic and then went virtual, Molly Seidel decided to break out her famous turkey costume.

“I want to be the Fastest Known Turkey,” said Seidel, who qualified for the 2020 U.S. Olympic team in the marathon.

Actually, turkeys can run up to 25 miles per hour.

“Oh shoot,” Seidel said. “I’ll be the fastest known turkey impersonator.”

As casually as some people dress a turkey, Seidel dresses as a turkey. She did it the first time when she was fresh off winning the 2015 NCAA cross country title for Notre Dame. “That was such a big, intense experience,” said the 26-year-old Wisconsin native, who also won three NCAA titles on the track, “that it seemed like a lot of fun to just go out and run a race while wearing a children’s turkey costume.”

With Seidel donning feathers, her sister Izzy was decked out as an elf for the small Wisconsin race. “We show up and all these other people are there to race-race and we’re the only ones in costume,” Seidel said.

On Thanksgiving Day 2016, she was top turkey – as well as top female finisher – in the Berbee Derby in Fitchburg, Wisconsin, with a time of 34 minutes, 29 seconds.

While passing a male runner, Seidel overheard one of his friends on the sideline tell him, “Oh, you just got passed by a turkey. And it’s a girrrrrl.”

“A guy getting passed by a girl is called being chicked,” Seidel said. “There’s few things that bring me more joy than getting to chick guys while I’m wearing a costume.”

Being a turkey chick made it even better.

Seidel has also dressed as a Frenchman running with a loaf of bread for a Bastille Day race in Milwaukee and she wore a doughnut costume on the track for National Doughnut Day.

But it’s her Turkey Day task that has attracted national attention in a country hungry for uplifting stories.

Seidel said it’s “super fitting” that her turkey trot takes place on the serendipitously-named Great Cranberry Island. She’ll be joined by Izzy, who ran collegiately for Northwestern, and a few friends. Sadly, most of the costumes they ordered – all Thanksgiving staples – did not arrive in time except for the cranberries.

Because the island is only 2 miles long, “We’re going to go on the main road and just run back and forth,” Seidel said.

This begs the question: What does it feel like to run in a turkey costume?

“It’s not comfortable by any means,” Seidel said. “It’s not very breathable. It’s made of felt and the wind just cuts right through you. So, it’s very cold, but at the same time really clammy.

“There is a reason why most running outfits aren’t made out of felt.”

And then there’s the turkey tail, which is made of cardboard and hooks over Seidel’s shoulders. “It catches the wind like nothing else,” she said.

If it seems like Seidel has bitten off more than she can chew in trying to earn Peachtree Road Race prize money, she’s actually running the 10K distance twice.

Upon her return home to Boston, Seidel will wear her normal running attire on a fast, flat loop Sunday, the final day runners can submit eligible times.

She said she hopes to slice 30 seconds off her turkey time since Great Cranberry Island is hilly and that costume is a model of inefficiency.

Fans are invited to predict the spread in a contest on the Atlanta Track Club’s social media platforms.

“I’d like to actually see what I can do,” Seidel said.

Last year she was 13th at Peachtree, which was particularly unlucky since she re-injured her hip.

But when Seidel returned to Atlanta for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Marathon on Feb. 29, her career took a giant leap with a second-place finish in her debut at 26.2 miles.

Seidel ran her second marathon in London in early October, placing sixth with a time that ranks among the Top 10 American woman in history on a record-eligible course.

However, with success has come some confusion with a more established runner. Molly Huddle, a two-time Olympic distance runner, shares the same first name, the same shoe company and the same alma mater.

“It gets mixed up,” Seidel said. “When Saucony would send me somewhere, you’d see the slight disappointment in people’s eyes when they realized, ‘Oh, they got this Molly instead of that Molly.’

“Hopefully I’m making a name for myself now.”

Especially on Thanksgiving. “Yeah,” said Seidel. “I’m Turkey Molly.”

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Molly Seidel

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