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Story and photos by Leon Thompson

November 30, 2015 Thanksgiving Day (Santee) – The fourth annual Waddle and Trot 5K Fun Run (that’s the waddle part) and race (for the trotters) took off from the parking lot of the Pathways Community Church at  8 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day.  Over 600 runners raced down Mast Boulevard and into Santee Lakes park.

 The course took competitors around three lovely lakes while Egrets and Great Blue Heron watched with cautious curiosity.   You cannot imagine a more eclectic group.  There were people of all ages from 90 years old to the unborn and every color you can imagine. 

But we all had one thing in common – to reach out and help someone in need, collectively do a good deed and in spread a little holiday cheer along the way.  All proceeds went to benefit the Santee Santas and the Santee Food Bank.

This was my third Waddle.  The first time was only a few months after open heart surgery.  Since there are no losers in this event it didn’t bother me that great-grandfathers, children and veterans in wheelchairs passed me.  I knew I would be among the last finishers.  We weren’t even into the park when the lead trotter flew by us, heading back to the finish line we just left 15 minutes earlier. 

The Trotters have fun competing.  Lean bodies and brightly colored shoes whiz past us with drenched tee-shirts and a disciplined gaze.  We waddlers have a little friendly completion of our own.  Who will be the last to finish the race? 

I think it was the Apostle Paul who wrote, “Therefore, let us strip off every weight that slows us down and let us run with endurance the race set before us.”  I don’t think Paul had the Waddle and Trot in mind but surely the last person to finish the race deserves an honor for persistence and determination.  Perhaps not a gold medal or certificate, but certainly our admiration and affection.

This year the completion for last was fierce.  My strategy was to start at the back of the pack and keep a slow pace.  Also, I'd stop a lot along the way to take photos and just talk to people.   A very fit looking young lady who appeared to be pregnant passed me.  That’s when I knew I had a good shot at last place.  I was neck-to-neck with a family of six  including twins in the stroller and a toddler on dad’s shoulders. 

The first-place winning time this year was 16 minutes and 30 seconds.  The top female finisher was Megan Hughes who looked fresh – as if taking a stroll.

I came in second to last with a personal best of 1 hour, 7 minutes and 58 seconds.  I thanked organizer Jessica Melius from the Pathways Church for such a great event, not just for me but for everyone because the spirit of Thanksgiving was there, from the first to the last and everyone in between. 

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