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The Most Unlikely Race You May Ever See: A Disney Parks Turkey Leg Races Olympic Hurdler David Payne at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex

Gary Buchanan

by , Walt Disney World Resort

The famous Disney Parks Turkey Leg is known for being a popular snack. In fact, guests love the treat so much it has inspired hats and t-shirts (as Disney Parks Blog author Steven Miller detailed in this recent post) toy merchandise, and even sweet snacks that resemble the tasty turkey goodness.

Which brings me to a question: what does a Disney Parks Turkey Leg have in common with the 110m hurdles? Not much, unless that hurdler is David Payne.

A Silver Medalist at the 2008 Olympics and a former U.S. Champion, David chose ESPN Wide World of Sports as a training ground for his run at Gold in the 2012 Summer Games in London. He’s training under the tutelage of an all-time legend in U.S.A. Track & Field, Coach Brooks Johnson. Brooks has coached a track and field participant at every Olympic Games since 1968 and is utilizing the pristine facilities at ESPN Wide World of Sports to train athletes this year.

While David is all business when it comes to training, he’s a fun-loving guy. So when I challenged him to race “a legendary Disney figure,” he didn’t know what to expect but was up for it anyway. Perhaps he thought he was racing Mickey, Goofy or Donald, because I think he was a bit surprised when a six-foot-tall Turkey Leg emerged to meet him at the start line. This is only the second time my homemade Turkey Leg costume has been worn. It made a cameo at last year’s “Trick or Meet-Up.” And now with this race under its belt, I think it’s time to retire the drumstick.

I don’t think David has ever raced a giant Turkey Leg and I doubt he ever will again. But he and Coach Johnson were great sports in letting me share the track, at least for a few minutes, with one of the best athletes in the world and one of the sport’s all-time great coaches.

(I also found out how hard it is to run with aluminum foil-wrapped shoes.)


  • You should take a road trip to Miller Park in Milwaukee and be a guest racer in the Sausage Race during a Brewer home game.

  • Now I know what the internet is for…. very clever and so fun!

  • Would you like to send the turkey leg costume to me after you retire it? My closet will welcome it!

    • I’ll make you a deal, Kyra. I can’t ship the giant Turkey Leg costume, but I just might be willing to hand it personally to you on your next visit to Walt Disney World. (Although imagine that would make quite the splash at the airport if you tried to check it as baggage) It’s only been worn twice, and now David has signed it!

  • This is pure awesome. I’ll be rooting for David in the Olympics and hoping I never run in to that Turkey Leg costume!

    • Thank you Amy – David really is a great sport to have some laughs with us. He shot our video after training most of the day, and had no idea what was going to be racing against him.

  • This makes me think of a potential relay race. You would run from park to park and eat a turkey leg at each. But you would have to find the turkey leg stand first. It could be a team relay or individual. I would partake and eat all 4 myself.

    • Great idea for Turkey Leg lovers like us!

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