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So, so close...

Worthington KTD Race Team members Jason Vote and Kevin Prins coax Paycheck across the finish line during the first heat of the Great Gobbler Gallop Saturday on 10th Street in downtown Worthington. With no penalties to either team, Paycheck came in second with a time of 1:47.17, behind Ruby Begonia’s time of 1:41.12. Julie Buntjer/Daily Globe2 / 5
Ruby Begonia nears the finish line during the first heat of the Great Gobbler Gallop Saturday on 10th Street in Worthington. Ruby and his Cuero, Texas, handlers finished the race 6.05 seconds ahead of Worthington’s bird, Paycheck. Julie Buntjer/Daily Globe3 / 5
Turkeys Ruby Begonia (left) and Paycheck are chased down Worthington’s 10th Street by members of the Cuero, Texas, and Worthington race teams. The birds were in a dead heat for much of the race, but after Paycheck got turned around, Ruby finished the race 6.05 seconds ahead of Paycheck in this first heat. The second heat will be in Cuero in mid-October. Julie Buntjer/Daily Globe4 / 5
Paycheck makes his way down 10th Street Saturday afternoon during the Great Gobbler Gallop. Ryan McGaughey/Daily Globe5 / 5

WORTHINGTON — Fans of outdoor festivals — and of racing poultry down city streets — gathered along 10th Street Saturday to watch the first heat of the Great Gobbler Gallop.

Worthington’s Paycheck and Cuero, Texas’ Ruby Begonia competed in what can only be described as the most electrifying racing event on two legs. In the end, it was Ruby that crossed the finish line first — but just barely.

Paycheck took an early lead in the race, inching just in front of Ruby and maintaining command past the halfway mark at the intersection with Third Avenue. But Paycheck stopped around that point, and Ruby slipped ahead. The pair continued for the finish neck and neck, with Ruby finally reaching the finish just in front of the hometown hero.

In one of the closest races on record, Ruby Begonia inched out Paycheck with a time of 1:41.12. Paycheck finished with a respectable 1:47.17. Neither team received any penalties.

Ruby Begonia’s team captain, Clint Clark, was ecstatic with the outcome.

“I’m stoked! I’m stoked! I’m ready to go,” Clark said. “I want the three-peat and they’re (Paycheck’s team) going to tell you in a minute that it isn’t over until October, but it’s over already. It’s done. The three-peat is done.”

Paycheck’s handlers were pleased with their performance, noting that the deficit is minor going into the second heat of the Gallop next month.

“We’re behind a little bit, but we’ll be fine,” Paycheck team member Kevin Prins assured, “A little more training ... and we’ll be fine.”

The next heat in the Great Gobbler Gallop will take place on the second Saturday of October in Cuero during that community’s Turkeyfest. The times from both races will be added together to determine the winner of this year’s contest — and who takes home the Traveling Trophy of Tumultuous Triumph and the Circulating Consolation Cup of Consummate Commiseration.

Robin Baumgarn

Robin Baumgarn is a new reporter for the Daily Globe covering the Education and Northwest Iowa beats. Prior to coming to the Globe, she worked for the Ocheyedan Press-Melvin News, a weekly Iowa paper for three years. She is a 2012 graduate of Iowa Lakes Community College and lives in Northwest Iowa with her husband Ryan and three pets, Fidget, Missy and Samwise.

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