Our turtle scampers to winner’s circle


Move over Jimmy Johnson. You too Kentucky Derby winner, “I’ll have another.” I’ve got my own champion and it was crowned the best at the Beaverton Turtle Races Monday night.

That’s right. Our unnamed turtle was crowned the fastest turtle among approximately seventy entrants in that town’s biggest event- their annual turtle race. It took three heats to win the grand prize, but each time our turtle blew away the competition, racing to the finish line far ahead the competition.

But the story really begins a couple of months ago. My family gets together once a year, and we do all kinds of crazy activities. Turtle races have become a tradition, and since I live up north, I was elected to find the turtles for our family race that takes place in mid-July.

In early May, Teresa and I were on our way to Houghton Lake. As we were exiting off US127 onto the road leading in to Houghton Lake, we noticed a turtle along the side of the road. Knowing we had this turtle race in a couple of months, I pulled the car to the side of the road, jumped out of the driver’s seat, and went running after the turtle. And run I did. Turtles aren’t suppose to be fast, but this little guy took off when he saw me approach. It took all I had to catch him.

Okay now we had a turtle, but how were we going to transport it? And what were we going to do with it for two months. Teresa took care of the first problem. After searching the car for a suitable transport, she decided to empty her purse. In went the turtle. For the next several hours the turtle remained hostage in a woman’s purse, as we visited several stores and a restaurant. It certainly would have been a hoot if someone had decided to search her purse.

Since that day, we’ve been keeping the turtle in a plastic crate filled with dirt and a pie tin filled with water. We feed the turtle a couple of worms each day- which he/she seems to like. Once in a while I would let the turtle out of the crate onto the driveway, and wham, the thing would take right off faster than a speeding bullet- well not quite that fast.

Recently, some friends who had attended the turtle races in Beaverton last year, suggested we check them out again, but this time we would enter turtles. I had my turtle and they would take a day to catch their racers. Their plan was to rent a golf cart and run all over Tamaracks golf course with a net in tow and catch their turtles. Like many plans, it didn’t work out. Catching turtles immersed in pond water is very difficult, and my friends came up empty-handed.

You see I already knew they would have trouble. Teresa and I had visited several ponds over the last several weeks to catch turtles. Remember I had promised the Wilcox clan, I would supply at least 4 or 5 racers. We scoured the countryside whenever we could, always to no avail. Yes we saw turtles, but if they are in water, they are difficult to net.

So I was the lone entrant. Well I take that back. Friend Bill, managed to buy a turtle outside race headquarters. Several people were selling the amphibians for $10 apiece, knowing there would be people without turtles wanting to be in the race.

Bill’s turtle was in the first heat, as was mine. Bill’s turtle, like many, didn’t even move a foot before mine had already crossed the finish line.

I knew I had a champion at that point. Well, actually I had an inclination when I first chased the turtle down  the highway in Houghton Lake. It was lightening fast and never stopped. Now the 200 spectators also were believers. There we were in the winner’s circle with trophy and prizes in tow.

Who could ever imagine a turtle race could be so much fun?