North Reading Turkey Trot 5K

North Reading Turkey Trot 5K
North Reading, Massachusetts
Thanksgiving 2009

5K – 3.1 miles
Finish: 17:53 (5:47 pace)
5th Place Overall
2nd Place Over-30

Race Report

As the saying goes, “There is a first time for everything,” and often it is a first you will never forget.

I will never forget my first road race. It was a 5-miler in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

I will never forget my first Ironman. It was in Madison, Wisconsin, the very same day I proposed to my lovely wife.

I will never forget my first time. It was in the back seat of… oh nevermind.

And I will never forget the innaugural town of North Reading Thanksgiving Day road race, a 5K Turkey Trot. It was the first time in my long history of running races and doing triathlons that I have ever led a race — the entire race — for even a short amount of time.

With a field of thankful friends and families totaling 300, the North Reading Turkey Trot got off to a meager start with myself and a handful of high schoolers blasting into the front. A quarter mile in, I found myself dangerously close to leading the race. So close I was that I knew if I could just put in a surge that I would indeed be leading the race. I didn’t quite think it was something I could hold, as I knew Fast Frankie and some of these high schoolers were capable of going well under 18 minutes, but still the thought struck me: I had never, to that point, ever led a race of any distance.

After a controlled surge, I settled in, for the first time in my long history of running, in first place. I, Thor Kirleis, was leading a race. I couldn’t help but smile. Giddy with myself, I just had to tell someone, and so with me two paces in front of a group of, maybe, 10, I enjoyed the sight in front of me with a bicyclist leading the way, charting the way for my path, and the group of dogs hounding on my heels.

With a quick turn back to assess the herd, I smiled and said, like a complete rookie, “Hey, I’ve never led a race before.” Not a word came back; everybody was running too hard. Then after another look back, this time with an even wider smile, I said, “I’m winning, boys… I’m in first place… who’s going to take it away from me?”

Just then Pete, my buddy John’s relative who was in town to share in the holiday, came up on the far side and took the lead.

My first place glory lasted for all of a few hundred yards, maybe less. But no matter, a first is a first, and to lead a race even for a short while gives me motivation to try to lead one when it matters most.

As so with that victory already in the bank, I punched on over this short rolling hills course, feeling fluid and smooth in mind and body, especially considering both were still getting over racing a marathon only days earlier, for a 5th place finish, with 1st through 4th still square in sights.

6 Responses to North Reading Turkey Trot 5K

  1. alili says:

    Too cool! Leading a race is something that not many can claim to have accomplished.

  2. Brian Keno says:

    I have won about 15 races in my career. Every one a special one. This past year I was 2nd a couple times in triathlon. In a 5K at FSU and parents day, I won the 5K with about 500 in the race. It was my first win in over 9 years or so. My daughter was in the race for the Parents Day 5K and it was extra special following the police motorcycle to the downhill finish. Never gets old. A beautiful feeling.

  3. jintorcio says:

    Dude! You rock! Sorry about Pete – we won’t invite him next year. 😉

  4. Betty Cooper says:

    Where are the results posted? Not on Cool Running. thanks.

  5. Pauline A. Bellizia says:

    Where can i find out the results to the race?


    • ironboy says:

      Pauline, Supposedly the results will be posted on and a few of the other popular place. In the meantime, stay tuned to your e-mail, I’ll forward preliminary results that were forwarded to me by the race director.

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