SARANAC LAKE — Eight-month-old Bodhi Marine might not have crossed the Bitters & Bones Turkey Trot finish line first this Thanksgiving, but he was certainly one of this year’s youngest participants.
This year marked the eighth-annual Bitters & Bones Turkey Trot. Bitters & Bones Co-owners Jimmy and Johnny Williams brought the charity race to Saranac Lake after they opened up their bar and restaurant in 2015. The 5K race has grown every year since its inception, according to Johnny, both in number of yearly participants and in donations to the Saranac Lake Student Needs Fund and the Saranac Lake Interfaith Food Pantry.
Just before race time on Thursday morning, more than 400 runners milled around Broadway outside the bar. Their breath cast clouds into the chilly morning air, and some of the athletes were seen hopping in place from foot to foot, trying to keep their muscles warm before the start. Meanwhile, swaddled in a loose-knit blanket and a Carhartt hat, baby Bodhi peered out from under the hood of his stroller. But while his winter garb might have kept him inconspicuous, his family’s didn’t — they were wearing matching t-shirts with a picture of Bodhi and the words “I believe in you!” printed on them.
Saranac Laker Kenzie Marine, Bodhi’s mother, said her son was her motivation to run on Thursday. Kenzie usually finds friends and family to sponsor her trot runs with donations, but this year, her friends and family said they wanted to sponsor Bodhi instead. A lifelong runner, Kenzie has done the trot for around five years. On Thursday, she trotted with her husband Tyler and both of their parents, along with Tyler’s two brothers, and, of course, Bodhi.
Kenzie said Thursday’s trot was her first real run in at least two years — since before she was pregnant with Bodhi. And despite Bodhi’s age, this year wasn’t his first turkey trot — Kenzie walked the trot last year while she was five months pregnant. That was the first time she’d been out in public while visibly pregnant, she said, so last year’s trot was a day of breaking the good news to her friends in the community.
This year, Bodhi’s father pushed his stroller through the trot course — from the Broadway bar to Casa del Sol on Lake Flower Avenue and back — while Kenzie got to fly to the finish line.
For a good cause
Kenzie said that she usually raises around $200 ahead of the annual race, but Bodhi brought in the big bucks this year — the tot will contribute more than $1,000 in donations to this year’s trot.
The Williams brothers wanted to keep the trot alive in 2020, the first year of the pandemic. It had been a “bummer” of a year for everyone in the community, Johnny said, and the brothers wanted to spread positivity where they could. In lieu of an in-person race, the Williams held a virtual race. They had runners log every mile they ran during the month of November and seek sponsors to donate a certain dollar amount for every mile run. Johnny said the new race format was a hit — they raised around $50,000 in donations that year.
While the race returned to Saranac Lake streets last year, the Williams kept some of the 2020 race’s virtual aspects that Johnny said have helped the race to grow “by leaps and bounds.” Last year, the trot raised $84,000 thanks to the month-long per-mile sponsorships combined with the return of in-person race registrations, the post-race auction and broader business sponsorships.
Johnny declined to give an estimate on Thursday of how much money the Turkey Trot raised this year — community members were still handing him donations as he spoke with the Enterprise after the race.
To estimate the number of registered runners this year, Johnny used the remaining number of trot t-shirts — which are handed out to every runner — as a measurement. Bitters & Bones printed 492 shirts for runners this year, and Johnny said he’d “be surprised” if there were 30 or 40 shirts left after the race.
“I think we’re really hopeful that this year is going to be a strong showing for the community,” he said. “We always have a great turnout, but this year was special.”
Results from the Turkey Trot will be published in the Enterprise when they become available.
Trot like it’s hot
Kenzie finished among some of the earliest runners on Thursday, an impressive feat for a new mother. She’d spent all of November hiking and doing short runs on her Peleton to prepare. She said she had to take a couple of quick walk breaks during the trot, but that getting back in the game “felt really, really good.” She was all smiles as she caught her breath after the race.
“I had no idea if I was only going to be able to do half of it,” she said, “so doing the whole thing felt really, really good.”
Kenzie said Bodhi is her motivation to run — she wants to be an “in-shape mom” so she and Bodhi can go hiking together once he’s old enough. She said this month was a “good kick in the butt” in getting restarted. Some days she didn’t want to train, but Bodhi kept her going. And she said she’ll keep on running, even though the Bitters & Bones 5K has trotted away.