Molly Seidel: Olympian and 'world’s fastest turkey'

Molly Seidel reacts as she crosses the finish line in second play during the Women's U.S. Olympic marathon team trials on 29 February 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Molly Seidel reacts as she crosses the finish line in second play during the Women's U.S. Olympic marathon team trials on 29 February 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The Tokyo-bound American attempted to break her own record when she ran the 2020 Virtual Peachtree 10K dressed as a turkey. 

The FKT

She may have qualified for the Olympics with her first attempt at the marathon distance, but last week Team USA’s Molly Seidel took on what may have been her greatest challenge yet - an attempt to become the world’s fastest turkey.

To celebrate Thanksgiving, Seidel dressed from head to toe in a turkey outfit before setting off on a 10k run alongside her carrot-costumed sister. Incredibly, the 26-year-old athlete from Wisconsin, USA came home in 34:33 - a time that until 1971 would have been a world record, with or without a turkey uniform.

But as to whether this made Seidel the all-time FKT (Fastest Known Turkey), the short answer is no. A real turkey can run at speeds of up to 40 kilometres an hour and Seidel herself set a time of 34:29 in 2016’s Berbee Derby in Fitchburg, Wisconsin - a race in which she placed first among the women.

It is however, more than likely that Seidel is in a league of her own when it comes to the world’s fastest turkey impersonators.

The rise of the turkey

Seidel is an old-hat when it comes to running in a turkey suit, having competed in multiple competitions dressed as the Thanksgiving favourite, stretching back to her college days. But since turning pro, her opportunities to don her preferred running wear have been limited.

“I would always wear this turkey costume going out and doing different races,” explained the Team USA star during an interview with Atlanta Track Club. “And then I signed pro and obviously couldn’t do that anymore,” before adding triumphantly: “But the turkey rises again!”

This time around, Seidel had the weather to contend with on a rainy Wisconsin morning and the fact that there were no crowds there to cheer her on as she took part in the 2020 Virtual Peachtree 10K.

Qualifying for Tokyo with her first marathon

Back in February of this year, Seidel caused a sensation when she ran home 2nd at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials in her first marathon ever. Having announced herself to the world in spectacular fashion - her time that day was also the 10th fastest ever by an American woman - she went on to compete in October’s London Marathon, placing sixth in a time of 2:25:13, two minutes faster than her debut run.

Looking forward to Tokyo, running in a turkey costume may well prove to be excellent preparation for Seidel, who has a marathon personal best (PB) of 2:25:13. The weather conditions are expected to be humid at next year’s race, so runners will need to prepare the best they can for the occasion - even if that means preparing in a turkey suit.

“It’s not comfortable by any means. It’s not very breathable,” Seidel told TeamUSA.org before the race. “It’s made of felt and the wind just cuts right through you. So, it’s very cold, but at the same time really clammy. There is a reason why most running outfits aren’t made out of felt.”

For now, Seidel has less than nine months to prepare for her next big challenge, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, where she will line up alongside fellow Americans Aliphine Tuliamuk and Sally Kipyego in Japan's Sapporo Odori Park.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic marathon competition takes place on Saturday 7 August 2021. Molly Seidel is not expected to compete dressed as a turkey.