The Detroit Thanksgiving
Day Turkey Trot of 1997, directed by
Ed Kozloff of the Motor City Striders,
wins a place of honor in the Blooper
Hall of Fame for the most runners to
go off-course in any race, ever. About
5,000, to be exact. OK, it wasnt
Eds fault, but that of a very
well-intentioned yet very loud and very
misinformed spectator who decided to
take matters into her own hands at the
This annual 10K event
takes place in conjunction with a Thanksgiving
Day parade in Detroit and part of the
race runs along the parade route in
front of the waiting parade spectators.
For some reason, the race had to be
slightly altered from the previous years
and involved an out-and-back followed
by a return to the stablished course.
Arrows painted on the street clearly
directed the runners where to go once
theyd done the out-and-back segment,
but theyd also been explicitly
instructed by Ed to run through the
arrows the first time they passed them.
The runners took their
mark and off they went without a problem.
Ed began to make his way toward the
finish area. He had no sooner crossed
the street, however, when someone remarked,
"Whats that?" and suddenly
there were all the runners, running
back toward them and in the wrong direction!
As the story later came out, the lead
police car had gone through the arrows
as instructed, when our spectator began
to scream at the runners to follow the
painted arrows. Apparently she was so
insistent that they all heeded her words.
A multitude passed before a race official
could catch up and convince her that
she had sent thousands of runners into
the streets of Detroit without a lead
By this time the lead
runners were beginning to suspect something
was amiss as there was no car or course
to follow. A local runner managed to
catch up to the leaders and convince
them to head back toward the main street
where the finish and the parade route
were. Good idea, but it failed to account
for the thousands of parade-watchers
already lining the street in their lawn
chairs, coffee cups in hand.
The scene, as Ed describes
it, was like a cross between a steeple-chase
and a stampede. Hundreds of runners
followed the leaders over the waiting
spectators and race barricades to get
to the finish line.
Well, the city of Detroit
had a fit and poor Ed got reams of hate
mail, all because of a misguided and
overly zealous spectator.