July 2017 - RUNNING & WALKING
Game Face Now for the Long Haul
By Laura Clark
While some can jump into any distance and post a credible performance, most need to pay their dues – and perhaps reap a greater reward. Sure it is hot now and tempting to take the short-term approach, but for those of us who relish longer events, the time to start double-knotting your sneakers is NOW!
Tell yourself to think about how hot it is after you have completed your workout, but don’t let weather or wishful thinking define your goals. I adopted this strategy while living in the Marshall Islands (85° with 90% humidity) and discovered I could defer discomfort to the back burner. At least I got to run. With so many premiere longer distance events looming on the horizon, it would be a shame to miss out altogether, or turn what should have been a fun experience into a survivor shuffle.
A good place to practice this strategy is at the 15th annual Race the Train on Saturday, August 5. While the weather could be uncomfortable, the moderate 8.4-mile distance is a perfect warmup for longer miles ahead. Plus, there is the distraction of trying to beat “Train” to the finish. Participants board the train at North Creek Depot at 8am and travel to Riparius for the 9am start. The first 200 registrants are guaranteed a seat; all others will be bussed to the start. A limited number of spectator tickets are available as well, making this a great family excursion.
Runners travel River Road, a hilly, dirt road roughly paralleling the tracks. At selected points, the train will pause allowing spectators to watch the event as it unfolds. Highlights include special-colored medal ribbons for those who beat Train, handcrafted awards, and homemade post-race refreshments. Visit: adirondackrunners.org.
The fourth annual Thacher Park Trail Running Festival on Sunday, August 27 is the perfect way to log some guilt-free miles, while other family members are having their own good time at the Albany Running Exchange’s Club Day with a kids’ race, egg toss, “holey” water bucket challenge, and hula hoop walk. Music plays throughout the day and I must confess as I am heading out on yet another loop, I am always tempted to stop and join in the fun. Distance options range from 5K, 10K, 13.1M, 26.2M and 50K – with the 10K being part of the first-ever USATF Adirondack Trail Running Series.
Race director Josh Merlis is proud that “the race is held at a gorgeous venue with some of the best views to be had in the greater Capital District.” Trails are a mix of wide paths and shaded singletrack, hilly and perhaps muddy at times, utilizing portions of Indian Ladder and Hairy Gorilla race courses – as well as less-familiar portions of the park. This is a perfect venue for those contemplating their first 50K, as those who cannot make the 2:30pm cutoff for the final 4.9 miles will be automatically switched to the marathon, instead of facing the dreaded DNF. This is one race where you might actually gain weight, as your entry fee includes morning pancakes and afternoon BBQ! Go to: thacherparkrunningfestival.com.
Now a traditional fixture of Saratoga’s fall distance scene, the Saratoga Palio Half Marathon & 5K Run/Walk on Sunday, September 17. Presented by the Melanie Foundation, it honors the life of Melanie Merola O’Donnell with a scholarship to a post-graduate student seeking to pursue a career in mental health, and also provides funds for the support services of the Saratoga Senior Center. The 13.1-miler wends down Broadway, tours Saratoga Spa State Park, and concludes at Congress Park.
There’s also a kids’ race, Druthers Brewery and Restaurant post-race celebration at Canfield Casino, and cash awards for the first three male and female finishers. This is a perfect way for out-of-town guests to tour the city and state park, and experience all Saratoga has to offer. To help the family budget, kids 12-and-under can enter the 5K at half-price. Check out: themelaniefoundation.com.
Also on September 17, trail beasts can head out to Moreau Lake State Park for the Moreau Lake 15K – and new 5K – Trail Runs. Billed as “the toughest 15K trail race in New York,” Jennifer Ferriss, an Adirondack Sports contributor, states on the Saratoga Stryders’ Facebook page, “This is the reason we run the Camp Saratoga 5K Trail Series, to get in shape for Moreau.” Hearkening back to simpler times, Moreau offers a low-key, minimum swag experience, with registration fee granting you free entrance to the park and beach facilities afterwards.
While the trails are well-marked, the narrow, twisty route preys on the unaware, so if you plan a fast pace it is best to partner up with a friend and a map. The highlight comes at the two-mile mark with the dreaded climb up the Staircase of Death. New this year is a 5K on a mildly challenging route. Whichever you choose, you will feel as if you have entered a primitive wilderness area, far removed from the nearby Northway. While there is a water stop, travel with extra food and drink, as you will be out there longer than your normal 15K trail time. Visit: greenleafracing.com.
Spend the weekend of September 23-24 at the Adirondack Marathon Distance Festival in picture-postcard hamlet of Schroon Lake. On Sunday, if you like the excitement and commitment that comes from running on a team? Then sign up for a two- or four-person marathon relay team. Eager to go the 26.2-mile distance but not sure if you can make the time cutoff? Then opt for the Early Bird Marathon start. Want to run the marathon with your club teammates? Then enter the first-ever Adirondack Cup Challenge, with the winning club retaining the cup until the following year. Have a Boston Qualifier or PR in mind? Then hook up with the appropriate “Pace Bear” at the start line and leave the thinking to him or her.
If you’re tired of big city marathon hassles, crowded streets and paid parking, this is as close to a scenic, wooded trail race as you will ever get on the road – the reward is a run around crystal clear Schroon Lake! Looking for a 5K or 10K? Then head to Chestertown on Saturday for the Helpers Fund races. The Saturday pre-race pasta dinner is Adirondack friendly and the post-run buffet at Schroon Lake Beach even includes ice cream! Go to: adirondackmarathon.org
Just over the border, the Vermont Sun Half Marathon around beautiful, scenic Lake Dunmore is on Sunday, September 24. Nestled in the Green Mountains, the race starts/finishes at Branbury State Park, taking runners on a 90% shaded rolling course, with 35% dirt roads, and aid every 1.5 miles. There are custom awards, free professional photos by Pat Hendrick Photography, awesome raffles, and post-race food and refreshments.
For family or friends not up to 13.1 miles, a 5K and 10K are also offered. Admission to the state park for the day is included for runners, with a minimal for spectators, so bring the family to enjoy the lake, beach and mountains. Visit: vermontsun.com.
Enjoy prime fall colors as you run on paved bike paths alongside the scenic Mohawk and Hudson rivers at the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon – from Schenectady to Albany – on Sunday, October 8. Then veer off for a road tour of the Watervliet Arsenal, an 1813 canon/mortar factory that’s still in operation today, and then last stretch along the Hudson River bike path before finishing at Jennings Landing near downtown Albany. The Hannaford Half Marathon utilizes the second half of the course, starting at the Colonie Mohawk River Park. The half is already sold out, however there are limited charity spots available.
The race website has a handy online Spectator’s Guide to help your cheering squad negotiate the city streets, as well as a step-by-step video of both routes, so you can acquaint yourself with the course. With a net elevation loss of 370 feet, the marathon has a national reputation as a go-to Boston Qualifier, with 25% of the field qualifying last year. Top three male and female finishers in both events are awarded cash prizes. The marathon is still open, so it’s not too late to sign up, and start your marathon training now. Check out: mohawkhudsonmarathon.com.
Pick up your race number and shirt at Saturday’s expanded Adirondack Sports Expo & Mohawk Hudson River Marathon/Half Packet Pick-Up. The show has expanded and moved to the brand new Albany Capital Center, now featuring 100 running, summer/winter sports, health/fitness and travel exhibitors! Expo admission is free, so even if you’re not running, attend for great sales, demos, activities, seminars and prizes! Run, Forrest, Run!
Laura Clark (email@example.com) 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.