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Kenzie and Tyler Marine (front left) pose with their family, including their son Bodhi, before the start of the Bitters & Bones Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving Day. Kenzie, a veteran turkey trotter, said friends and family who normally sponsor her races with donations have chosen to sponsor Bodhi this year. (Business Photo – Lauren Yates)

SARANAC LAKE — Eight-month-old Bodhi Marine may not have crossed the finish line of the Bitters & Bones Turkey Trot first this Thanksgiving, but he was certainly one of the youngest entrants this year.

This year marked the eighth annual Bitters & Bones Turkey Trot. Bitters & Bones co-owners Jimmy and Johnny Williams started the charity run in Saranac Lake after opening their bar and restaurant in 2015. The 5k run has grown every year since its inception, according to Johnny, both in number of annual attendees and donations to Saranac Lake Student Needs Fund and Saranac Lake Interfaith Food Pantry.

Just before race time on Thursday morning, more than 400 runners crowded around Broadway outside the bar. Their breath throws clouds into the cool morning air, and some of the athletes jump in place from foot to foot, trying to keep their muscles warm before the start. Meanwhile, swaddled in a loose knit blanket and Carhartt hat, baby Bodhi peeked under the hood of her stroller. But while his winter outfit might have kept him low-key, his family didn’t – they wore matching t-shirts with a picture of Bodhi and the words “I believe in you!” printed on it.

Saranac Laker Kenzie Marine, Bodhi’s mother, said her son was her motivation for running Thursday. Kenzie usually finds friends and family to sponsor her trotting races with donations, but this year her friends and family said they wanted to sponsor Bodhi instead. A lifelong runner, Kenzie has been trotting for about five years. On Thursday, she trotted with her husband Tyler and their two parents, as well as Tyler’s two brothers and, of course, Bodhi.

Kenzie said Thursday’s trot was her first real race in at least two years – since before she became pregnant with Bodhi. And despite Bodhi’s age, this year wasn’t her first turkey trot – Kenzie walked the trot last year when she was five months pregnant. It was the first time she had gone out in public when she was visibly pregnant, she said, so last year’s trot was a day when she broke the good news to her friends from the community.

Turkey Trot attendees show their Thanksgiving spirit with special themed glasses and headpieces on Broadway in Saranac Lake Thursday. (Photo provided — Lou Reuter)

This year, Bodhi’s father pushed his stroller through the trotting course – from the bar on Broadway to the Casa del Sol on Lake Flower Avenue and back – while Kenzie was able to fly to the finish line.

For a good cause

Kenzie said she usually raises around $200 before the annual race, but Bodhi brought in a lot of money this year – the tot will contribute more than $1,000 in donations to this year’s trot.

Kenzie Marine rehydrates on Broadway at Saranac Lake after completing the Bitters & Bones Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day. (Business Photo – Lauren Yates)

The Williams brothers wanted to keep the trot alive in 2020, the first year of the pandemic. It had been a “shame” one year for everyone in the community, Johnny said, and the brothers wanted to spread positivity where they could. Instead of an in-person race, the Williams held a virtual race. They asked runners to log every mile run during the month of November and seek sponsors to donate a certain dollar amount for each mile run. Johnny said the new race format was a success – they raised around $50,000 in donations that year.

While racing returned to the streets of Saranac Lake last year, the Williams retained some of the virtual aspects of the 2020 race that Johnny says helped the race grow. “by leaps and bounds.” Last year, the trot raised $84,000 through month-per-mile sponsorships combined with the return of in-person race entries, the post-race auction and broader commercial sponsorships.

Johnny declined to give an estimate on Thursday of how much money the Turkey Trot has raised this year – community members were still handing him donations as he spoke with the Enterprise after the race.

To estimate the number of runners registered this year, Johnny used the number of trotting t-shirts remaining – which are given to each runner – as a measure. Bitters & Bones printed 492 shirts for runners this year, and Johnny said he “to be surprised” if there were 30 or 40 jerseys left after the race.

“I think we really hope this year will be a good performance for the community,” he said. “We always have a great turnout, but this year has been special.”

The results of the Turkey Trot will be published in the Enterprise as soon as they are available.

Trot like it’s hot

Kenzie finished among the top runners on Thursday, an impressive feat for a new mother. She had spent the whole of November hiking and doing short runs on her Peleton to get ready. She said she needed to take a few quick breaks during the trot, but to get back into the game “I 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 says, “So doing all of that was really, really good.”

Kenzie said Bodhi was her motivation for running – she wants to be a “fit mom” so that she and Bodhi can go hiking together once he is old enough. She said this month was a “good kick in the ass” to restart. Some days she didn’t want to practice, but Bodhi made her continue. And she said she would keep running, even though the Bitters & Bones 5K is gone.

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