September 2016 - RUNNING & WALKING
Leaves, Pumpkins and Fall Classics
By Mona Caron
Spectacular colors of red, orange and yellow will be your backdrop this racing season. Lace up your running shoes to enjoy the beautiful foliage and cooler weather. You’ll reap the benefits from your summer training with these fall races.
On Saturday, October 1, you’ll have your choice of pink ribbons, beer or a prize-filled trail race. First up is the 22nd annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K at the Empire State Plaza in Albany. Starting and finishing on Madison Avenue at the NYS Museum, the course takes runners through downtown streets and Washington Park – similar to the old Freihofer’s Run for Women route.
The race is a great way to support breast cancer research, screening and treatment of breast cancer in northeastern NY and nationally. In 1980, the five-year survival rate for women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer was about 74 percent. Today, that number is 99 percent. If you can’t run, participate through the Two-Mile Family Walk, Kids for the Cure, or Sleep in for the Cure. For more info, go to: komenneny.org.
On the other side of town, you have the second annual Oktoberfest 5K at Wolf’s Biergarten where you can run the streets of north Albany’s warehouse district. Sign up and you’ll receive a commemorative beer stein and a free beer to those 21 and over, refreshments, and free admission to the North Albany Oktoberfest.
The Oktoberfest course is a flat, out and back on North Pearl and Broadway. It’s a fun party atmosphere, so gather your friends, form a team and run! A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Center for Disability Services, Ronald McDonald House, and the Epilepsy Foundation. To register: oktoberfestalbany5k.com.
In the southeastern Adirondacks, also on October 1, is the Leaf Cruncher 5K Trail Race at Gore Mountain in North Creek. Check out this fun and family-oriented 5K, which includes a scenic ride aboard the Northwoods Gondola for every runner – perfect for peak foliage! The course is a combination of rolling cross-country trails and flat base area, with a few steeper spots within the wooded areas. The race is open to runners, hikers and walkers.
All participants can treasure hunt for prizes on the course, as well as be eligible for GREAT raffle prizes following the race. Awesome awards for runners who place in numerous categories. If you’re anxiously awaiting ski season, this is the race for you! Grab your friends and take advantage of this great value. Learn more at: goremountain.com.
On Saturday, October 8, celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Falling Leaves 5K & Kids’ Run at William Kelley Park in Ballston Spa. Runners and walkers can enjoy the scenic course within the historic village of Ballston Spa. Participants can win generous gift certificates to local businesses including restaurants, Fleet Feet Sports and more. The first 200 to register receive a long-sleeve tech shirt.
A free kids’ fun run will be held after the 5K with each participant receiving a ribbon. This race benefits the Vet HELP program, earmarked for the Vet House and Guardian House for male and female homeless veterans. For more info, visit: ballstonspaumchurch.org.
While students are back at school, help “race away” the stigma that surrounds mental illness at the eighth annual Race Away Stigma 5K Race & Walk on Sunday, October 9 at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy. Mental health issues will affect more than one in every five Americans this year. The college years are the most common ages for mental health concerns to arise. Depression, anxiety, and other concerns are increasingly common among students in the US. HVCC’s Project Aware and the Equinox Insight Program recognize that the stigma associated with mental health can prevent students from seeking the help they need.
Starting at the Student Pavilion, runners will start at the campus, run through the adjacent tree-lined neighborhood, and finish back on campus. It’s a fast, flat course that’s perfect for runners seeking a PR or for walkers of all speeds. Learn more at: hvcc.edu/cct/race.
As it gets closer to Halloween, look for pumpkins at the 16th annual Great Pumpkin Challenge 5K & 10K on Saturday, October 15 at the Saratoga Spa State Park in Saratoga Springs. It’s a fast, flat, paved course within the park for both the 5K and 10K (with a few gentle hills in the 10K), which start simultaneously at the Columbia Pavilion. A kids’ fun run follows.
Great Pumpkin caps out at 2,000 registrants and it sells out, so register early! Sign up by October 1 to receive a long-sleeve wicking shirt and a free raffle ticket for great prizes. Shuttles from the SPAC and Peerless Pool parking lots are available due to limited parking near the start. Post-race awards, refreshments and a kids’ costume contest finish out a fun morning of community running. Race proceeds benefit Saratoga Bridges. To register, check out: saratogabridges.org.
For frightening 5K family fun, join the third annual Running SCCCared 5K Fright Run/Walk on October 15 at The Crossings in Colonie. Everyone is urged to come in costume, the scarier the better, and there will be plenty of monsters on the course to help you run even faster.
The event benefits St. Catherine’s Center for Children, an organization that provides services for at-risk children and families. There’s also a free one-mile walk for children 12 an under, held an hour before the 5K. Afterwards, there’s plenty of snacks and children’s activities. Visit st-cath.org.
Relive your high school or college cross country running days at the Saratoga Cross Country Classic 5K on Sunday, October 30. Or, if you’ve never run in these meets, this is your chance to race on the same classic course. The historic Saratoga Spa State Park is the site of several championships and invitational meets. The XC Classic is open to all levels of runners and walkers. The 5K starts and finishes on the wide grassy area near the Spa Little Theater and Hall of Springs.
This cross country course combines flat and hilly terrain on open and wooded trails with sections of grass, gravel and dirt. It’s a great way to mix up your asphalt training on a softer surface. In addition, there’s the 2K and 3K Development Races, open to all youth runners – and this year there’s a kids’ fun giveaway! Preceding the 5K and kids races is the USATF Adirondack 5K Race Walk Championship (on roads) at 8am. Watch new and experienced race walkers in action, or sign up as the race walk is open to all. For more info, visit: saratogaxcclassic.com.
The Hairy Gorilla Half Marathon and Squirrelly Six Miler is on October 30 at Thacher State Park in Voorheesville. Created in 2005, the HGH and SS feature giant gorillas and squirrels chasing after you, cardboard graveyards that might have your name, a chainsaw-wielding maniac in the midst, and plenty of other unique encounters. Sections of the course are decorated in the spirit of Halloween. Participants are encouraged to wear costumes or silly outfits to get into the spirit.
ARE Events Productions’ post-race party includes a pumpkin carving contest, potluck picnic and barbeque. Both distances are trail races held nearly 1,000 feet above Albany on the Helderberg Escarpment at the state park. Parts of the course can be wet and some trail sections have rocks, roots and other obstacles. The views are breathtaking and the course offers a variety of terrain. For details, go to hairygorillahalf.com.
South of Albany, also consider doing the fifth annual Run for Readers 5K Run/Walk on October 1 at Scott Ellis Elementary School in Greenville, and the fourth annual “Chopping Down Cancer” Veeder Tree Farm 5K Run/Walk on October 16 in Earlton. Make the most of the fall running season!