Mike’s Musings- A race for the ages- turtle never moves

July 5, 2013

Michael Wilcox, Publisher/Editor


A few days ago I was sweating bullets. We had not found a turtle for the annual Beaverton Turtle Races. Teresa and I entered the competition last year- for the very first time, and quite luckily, our turtle ended up winning the entire tournament.

Not only did that turtle win in Beaverton, it also came in first in a couple of other competitions. We retired the turtle after its 10th heat win. The turtle had never lost a race, and we felt the humane gesture would be to let it go in a lake where there were plenty of turtles he could befriend.

I regretted letting the champion go now, knowing unless I found a turtle quickly, there would be no repeat champion in Beaverton. Luckily, while driving aimlessly between Marion and McBain we stumbled upon a turtle basking in the sun in the middle of the road. I quickly wheeled my vehicle around, jumped out and grabbed what appeared to be a very lethargic amphibian.

It was lethargic indeed. It never moved until I lifted it in the air, and it promptly peed all over my hand, arm and clothes. I haven’t seen very many humans pee as much as this turtle sprayed. We quickly dropped the turtle in to a container and drove home. Once home I tried to coach the turtle to move quickly but to no avail. This turtle, I just knew it was a dud, and one that we could not count on for the big race.

The day of the race, I’m driving through Farwell, and there in the midst of the highway, laid a turtle. I do a quick u-turn, almost causing an accident, and drive my car to the side of the road, and get out, headed towards the turtle. Other drivers must have thought I was seeking something important because three cars pulled off to the side of the road, only to get back on when they saw I had a turtle.

This one seemed to be a bit more active. It only had three legs, and kinda walked sideways, but boy  could it go once it got those three legs churning. I thought for sure, I had found the next champion. Every time we tested the three-legged turtle we named Gimpy, it would take off like a horse coming out of the starter’s gate at a thoroughbred stakes race.

That is until we got to the actual race. Upon arrival race organizers gave out a collective groan, fully expecting we had brought last year’s champion, almost conceding the first place money and trophy to us. But we said no, that turtle had been retired, but we had a three-legged runner, that was sure to place high.

Gimpy was placed in the second heat. As anticipation grew the starter yelled “go” and the turtles were off- all except Gimpy that is. Gimpy just laid there. Maybe it was the lights, maybe it was the large crowd yelling and screaming, or maybe he was simply resting, I don’t know, but the turtle never moved. Disappointingly, we finished last in that heat.

In the consolation heat, an hour later, same result. Gimpy did move a bit, but not enough to stay out of last place. We now realized our only chance at a trophy was to be “crowned” the slowest turtle. The finale which pitted all the turtles that finished last in the previous heats, was a barnburner.

Gimpy didn’t move, but neither did his peers. It was a classic race of the slowest. Finally a couple turtles moved towards the finish line, and then a couple more, but Gimpy remained behind. He wasn’t going to be goaded into moving. A few minutes later he was crowned the slowest turtle at the Beaverton Turtle Races.

We went home with a trophy for the second year in a row. It wasn’t the trophy we were seeking. We were not repeat champs, but Gimpy did his fellow amphibians proud. After all turtles are suppose to be slow and Gimpy and the trophy that now decorates our mantle, will never let us forget that.

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