Trotting for Turkeys

 The Trot comes to Saranac Lake

I am, by no means, a runner. So the first time my co-worker Frank asked if I wanted to do a turkey trot, I was a little skeptical. What could possibly be appealing about getting out of bed on one of those rare days I get the chance to sleep in? (I should probably mention that during the work week, my shift doesn't start until 11 am, so I actually get to sleep in every day-- but still!)

Frank and his wife, Linda, had brought the tradition to Saranac Lake three years ago with a group of eight friends. Going on year two, Frank was hoping for an even greater turnout. “You don't have to run it,” he promised me.

I thought about the benefits of getting a little exercise before I stuffed myself for my third Thanksgiving dinner that month (we had already had friendsgiving, and a potluck at work). With Frank's assurance that I could walk it, I made the commitment to drag myself out of bed on Thanksgiving morning.

However, I wasn't about to do it alone. With a small amount of begging, I was able to convince my husband Eric (at the time, we had only been dating for a month, but I think it's a testament to how much he was willing to put up with for me) and our friend Tom to join me.

Tom, Britt, and Eric

 Running gear helps

Thermoses in hand, we arrived at the starting point to find about fifteen people, including Mayor Clyde Rabideau. We were just in time for a group photo, immediately after which the majority of the group, all clad in running gear, took off like a shot.

Feeling a bit like the tortoise of legend, I plodded along behind them through the snow up Forest Hill Ave in my snow-pants, sock monkey hat, and winter boots. Immediately, I could tell why most of the other participants were wearing running shoes. In my worn, rubber-bottom boots, my feet were toasty, but it was hard to get any traction.

Slipping and sliding on the snow-covered road, I realized walking was going to give me more exercise than I had  bargained for. For anyone considering this event for the first time, I highly recommend shoes with decent tread.

2013 Group Shot, Photo by Paula Nash

My favorite kind of snow

Despite my wardrobe malfunction, I found myself pretty grateful for my decision to get out of bed. It was a beautiful morning; the snow had fallen so recently that it was still in that magical, pristine state where it is actually white. I knew that it wouldn't last. Soon the trucks would be through to distribute salt and dirt to make the roads safer for driving.

Yet, for the moment, it was a walker's paradise. We followed the footprints of the overachievers around Moody Pond, admiring the quiet beauty of the snow-covered mountains. It struck me yet again how lucky we are to live in this amazing place.

From Moody Pond, Photo by Thomas Murphy

Slow and steady has nothing on speed and determination

The three of us swapped stories and told jokes. For me, walking has always been a fantastic way to connect with someone. I am a restless person, and have a hard time sitting still. Going out to a restaurant can be torturous, especially after the meal is over, and everybody else wants to sit and relax for a while.

Walking, on the other hand, provides a great outlet for my energy and allows me to concentrate on the conversation. As the Trot took us down Pine Street past the cemetery, our topics of discussion flowed naturally, ranging from current events to the inconveniences of shaving (legs for me, faces for them).

Before I knew it, we were at NBT Bank and on our way down River Street, back to the starting point outside the Community Store. By the time we hit Main Street, it's clear that, unlike the tortoise, slow and steady was not going to win this race.

Apparently our fellow trotters were not as easily distracted as the hare; they had already crossed the finish line and gone home. Frank and Linda greeted us with cups of hot cider, and, finding an odd pride in our last place finish, we all headed home.

2014 Group Shot, Photo by Thomas Nash

Growing pains

The following year, (the third for Frank and Linda,) we had a much harder time maintaining our last place status. The unofficial Trot had grown to over fifty participants, and not all of them were runners.

The event had grown so large that we attracted the attention of the police, who were concerned about safety. Clearly, the time had come for a little more organization. Eric, Tom, and I were joined by a few new faces, and our whole group had to work a little harder to dawdle and keep in the back, with all the other Trot walkers that year.

About halfway through the Moody Pond loop, my childhood best friend, Hailey, ran past us with her daughter in a stroller. She had a late start, but would go on to be one of the first finishers. Maybe this should have inspired us to jog for a bit, but instead we stopped to take a selfie. A miniature snowball fight at the foot of the cemetery helped us lock down our status as the last place participants, and again we reached the finish line to find everybody else had gone home already. Content with the knowledge we had earned the right to stuff ourselves later, we went home.

2014 Walkers, Selfie by Jess Collier

A new reason to trot

Now it is once again that magical time of year where we can gather with our loved ones and eat much more in one sitting than is probably good for us. But this year, we have a unique opportunity to not only ease our own guilt about overeating with a little exercise, but actually make a positive impact in our community.

Seeing the need for a more official event, new Saranac Lake tavern Bitters & Bones is hosting their first annual Turkey Trot, with an awesome goal: make sure every home has a proper Thanksgiving meal this year. All the proceeds for the event will go to the Saranac Lake Interfaith Food Pantry.

You can register online, (or just donate,) at The $20.00/adult registration fee will earn each participant an event t-shirt designed by Jeffery Vossler.

Participants this year will gather at Bitters & Bones for registration and a bake sale at 7:30 AM on Thanksgiving morning. At 8:30 AM the Trot will begin! The course this year is a 5K, and will wind up Broadway, along Lake Flower, to Casa Del Sol (where there will be a water station and open restrooms) and back.

As an added bonus for us slow-pokes, the festivities will continue after the Trot is over! From 9:30 AM to 10:15 AM, the rustic tavern will host a raffle and auction of gift certificates, goods, and services donated by local businesses.

Bitters & Bones Turkey Trot

More ways to get active

If  you are looking for other events to motivate you to get out and enjoy the beauty of this area before the snow clears, Winter Carnival has a whole host of activities coming up. Here are a few races you won't want to miss:

10:00 a.m. Ice Palace Fun Run (4 miles) (Ice Palace, State Boat Launch)
11:00 a.m. White Stag Downhill Ski Races (Mt. Pisgah Ski Center, $)
6:00 p.m. Snowshoe Races (all ages) (Dewey Mountain, $, call 891-2697)
10:00 a.m. Innertube Races (Mt. Pisgah Ski Center, $)
12:30 p.m. Children's Skating Races (Saranac Lake Civic Center)
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2016 - last day
10:00 a.m. Adult Cross-Country Ski Races (Dewey Mountain, $, Call 891-2697 for details)
12:00 p.m. Cross-Country Ski Races (Dewey Mountain, $. Call 891-2697 for details)
Select seven: Family hikes under four hours
So many options for delicious indulgence!

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