When a chicken is said to be free-range, it doesn't necessarily mean he can go just anywhere. Our bird for September is an exception. Lawrence Chicken is an avian athlete who has surpassed many a fowl fellow in the exciting sport of extreme speed walking. He has swooped in on a quick visit to share a bit of his life on the run with us.
Lawrence: Do you mind if I keep moving while we talk? I can't stand being still. I've got shpilkes, as my Jewish friends say. And also, you got a nosh? I haven't had time to grab a bite.
Louise: How about a bagel, since you're dropping Yiddishisms? I've got sesame and pumpernickel And perhaps a shmeer? (Two can play this game.) I guess chicken matzoh ball soup is out.
La: God forbid! A bagel is fine. Hold the shmeer. The trouble with speed walking is that there's no time to sit down for a meal. I mean I hardly ever sit down. Training has me pecking a bit of corn or alfalfa along a country road and whatever morsels pedestrians have dropped if I'm in a city.
Lo: You seem to cover a great distances for a bird that doesn't fly. How did you get started speed walking?
La: When I was a little chick, I was diagnosed with ADD and ADHD. I was always on the go. We lived on a free-range farm but no one expected the chicks to run after the horses. A horse named Phyllis took me under her wing, so to speak. She had me following her at a really fast gait and spent much time training me to be an up and coming speed walker. She centered me, gave me focus and now I can use my tremendous energy to win races and break records.
Lo: Do you just race against chickens or can any bird or other animal compete with you?
La: I am in the bird division, strictly birds. I compete mainly against roadrunners and ground cuckoos. Some chickens & wild turkeys too. Occasionally a rabbit will wear a bird beak to try to fool the judges, but the hop and of course the ears are a big give away. I don't know why they do it, but it happens and they always get caught.
Lo: And you are the reigning champ of extreme speed walking, bird division of the USA, three years in a row. Congratulations! What's next for you?
La: I''ll be training and then flying out to Pyeongchang, South Korea to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics Race Walking Competition (Animal Division). I've never been to Asia. It should be fun.
Lo: Winter Olympics? I thought speed or race walking was a summer sport.
La: It is, but new this coming year, speed walking on snowshoes is being introduced. Just for the animal division. The Swiss Mountain Goats lobby is very influential and they finally got their way. I'm excited about the challenge and will be training with my new Eddie Bauer snowshoes for the rest of the year.
Lo: Well, whatever floats your boat. Good luck to you.
And with no more than a "Thanks for the bagel", Lawrence sped off into the sunset with dreams of snow and snowshoes and gold medals in his little bird brain.