March 2017 - RUNNING & WALKING
Make Every Race an Adventure!
By Laura Clark
Life is too short and there are now so many races to choose from that there is no need to select an event that fails to inspire. By opting for races that challenge your skill set, appeal to your values, take you to unexplored areas or involve the whole family, you not only ensure a satisfying experience but also guarantee that sticking to your training plan will be a no-brainer.
For some suggestions, consider the following unique April and May events. You will be certain to discover one or two that will spark your sense of ongoing adventure!
Looking for that special Roadrunner logoed April Fool’s shirt to wear? Then head over to the 38th annual April fool’s Race in Salem, which this year conveniently falls on the actual day, April 1st! True fools can tackle both the 10K (9am) and the 5K (10:30am) for the same low $12 preregistration fee, a bargain by any standards. While the total distance of slightly over nine miles isn’t extremely long, the half-hour or more wait between events requires clever planning. And as race director Dan Sheldon quips, “The beautiful course is the same and the hills are still there.”
Both routes are no joke, with the 5K loop even boasting some dirt road. In the spirit of the day, some parents opt to race the 10K and then try to keep up with their kids in the 5K. The Children’s Mile begins on the new school track and enjoys a safe tour of the school grounds. Yummy, practical awards include local products and plates of cookies. (aprilfoolsrace.com)
Another 5K/10K combo is the fifth annual Bacon Hill Bonanza 5K Race/Walk & 10K Race on April 8 at Bacon Hill, just north of Schuylerville. Both events begin at the same time, eliminating the pressure to overcommit. With Bacon Hill Church’s steeple repair a done deal after only four years, proceeds now support their Organ Fund as well as Schuyler Park. Their big news is that the 10K was voted part of USA Track & Field Adirondack’s Grand Prix Series, so expect a high level of competition over a farm country course with some hills, where cows outnumber spectators.
And, who is a better baker than a farmer’s wife? While winners receive homemade pies and cookies, no one will walk away disappointed as the refreshment table is laden with all sorts of home-baked goodies. Family participation is encouraged with a $5 discount for additional members. (baconhillbonanza.com)
Help fill someone else’s Easter basket this year and wear blue at the third annual Blue Needs You 8K on April 15 in Saratoga Springs. Proceeds benefit operational costs of Code Blue Saratoga, which thanks to the generosity of Ed and Lisa Mitzen of Fingerpaint Marketing, will soon break ground for a permanent homeless shelter. This route, beginning and ending at High Rock Park, is designed to be a challenging, competitive course with the hilly first section giving way to the flatter Spring Rock Trail.
Not only is the event staffed heavily with shelter volunteers, but several former guests are in the mix, including Don who states, “I was homeless and I used Code Blue to stay out of the cold as I saw some of my friends die.” Don has now quit drinking and has turned his life around. Additionally, co-race director Dennis Fillmore has a standing offer to assist shelter guests with one-on-one training. With recognition for the team with the most runners registered, Ainsley’s Angels will be out in full force – look for our pink pushers and “chariot” riders! (codeblueneedsyou.org)
Are you 40 and over and desirous of testing yourself on a level playing field? Then the 37th annual Bill Robinson Masters 10K Championship on April 22 is the perfect choice with awards through age 80 and over. Launching from Guilderland High School, it is an out-and-back along a scenic course. As a bonus, that format will help you keep track of your competitors as you can spot them coming and going without an embarrassing backwards glace to reveal your concern.
But more importantly, the race honors Bill Robinson, a top local runner who 25 years ago was hit by a car on his daily noontime run. He is now confined to a wheelchair. It could have been any one of us. For the under-40 set, there is a companion HMRRC race held in October to help you catch up on your Grand Prix points. (hmrrc.com)
Get in a race and superb Adirondack scenic views at the 28th annual Prospect Mountain Road Race on April 29 in Lake George. While the 5.67-mile, 1,601-foot climb may seem intimidating, there is no need to be hesitant, as co-race director Christine Cifone-Clohosey points out, “You don’t have run fast, just lock into a slow pace.” With no flatlander minutes per mile expectations, you can enjoy a pressure-free ride up. A fast hiking pace is perfectly acceptable and sometimes even overtakes a slow jog! On the other hand, the average participant age has gotten older over Prospect’s 28 years, leaving plenty of room for competitive youngsters to stake out a top ten record!
Lately, many more runners have also opted to get in a long run by reversing their path and taking a downhill cooldown. On the way up, be aware that the first mile is relatively easy, with the third running a close second. The toughest, naturally occurs at the peak, but by then you are truly “almost there.” (adirondackrunners.org)
Are you heartier than a mastodon? Choose Cohoes and find out at the sixth annual Mastodon Challenge 15K & 5K on May 6. Not simply a caveman-strong name, there really was a mastodon skeleton – now located at the NYS Museum – discovered at the Harmony Mills textile site (now luxury apartments), which you will pass en route. Even more exciting than the mastodon perhaps is the fact that the feature event is a 15K, which along with Code Blue’s 8K, remains an endangered distance – and this year’s Mastodon 15K is also a USATF Adirondack Grand Prix race!
On your occasionally hilly journey you will also sample the relatively flat Erie Canal Towpath, Mohawk Bike Trail and Cohoes’ beautiful pocket parks, encouraged by plentiful water stops and entertainment. New this year will be cash awards for the top three males and females in both the 15K and 5K and free entry into next year’s event. (mastodonchallenge.com)
Finally, the Literacy 5K Run/Walk on May 7 offers the opportunity for your first family outing of the season, one appealing to both runners and non-runners alike! With a new location at Schodack Island State Park in Schodack Landing – on the scenic Hudson River. The 5K Trail Run/Walk utilizes the park’s wide, fairly level dirt trails past Schodack Creek where some might be lucky enough to spot an eagle. The Youth Mile will travel on the stone dust trails around the main park area.
The Castleton Library will be hosting a Story Walk, where families can stroll to various stations to enjoy a continuous story. Park personnel also will offer a Guided Nature Walk along the 1.5-mile bike path where all ages will learn to identify various trees, bugs and birds. Entrance to the park is included in all fees paid online, so families are encouraged to bring a picnic, hike, bike, kayak, or play a game of horseshoes or volleyball. Have fun while supporting the Literacy Volunteers of Rensselaer in their efforts with adults, out-of-school teens, and English language learners. (lvorc.org)
So join your friends and start off the spring season with the adventure of trying something different!
Laura Clark (firstname.lastname@example.org) of Saratoga Springs is an avid trail runner, ultramarathoner, snowshoer and cross-country skier. She is a children’s librarian at the Saratoga Springs Public Library.