Students at Yorba Middle School didn't have to sing for their turkey dinners, but they did have to run for them.
In what has become a tradition at this school, students signed up to participate in the 10th annual Turkey Trot on Thursday. After running twice around the track and once through the school's corridors, the top four winners in each of the four divisions were each given a frozen turkey.
The rest of the student body watched and cheered as their comrades took off down the track for the 1 1/2-mile race.
"This is the hard part," said Principal Dennis Miller, who yelled through a megaphone for runners to pace themselves. "They start out running like banshee chickens and have nothing left for the rest of the race."
Teachers guided the teenagers through the halls, briefly lifting the rule prohibiting running through the buildings.
All of the runners had been timed for speed during gym classes and the slower ones were given a head start, Activities Director Sheryl Nunez said.
Twenty-five turkeys were donated by grocery stores and the school's PTA, and those left over were raffled off to the runners who did not place.
The first across the line, 14-year-old Ruben Velasquez, was clearly feeling the pain as he wiped the sweat off his face.
"It was hard," he said. "I was running the whole way. Everybody told me I could win."
The event was almost over by the time Adam Ribota and John Pezzetti strolled across the finish line with construction cones on their heads.
"We walked to make a point," said 14-year-old Pezzetti. "They shouldn't force us to do physical education in school. It's mental."
But the second-to-last to come in still had a lucky break and won a turkey in the drawing.
"I feel great," Pezzetti said. "It just shows that slow people are still winners."