August 2017 - RUNNING & WALKING
Short and Sweet Races
By Laura Clark
For runners, fall means big-time marathons with Adirondack, Hudson Mohawk, New York City and Philadelphia issuing their siren calls. But what if work, vacations and hot weather derail your plans? Or what if you are simply unwilling to commit to lengthy training schedules? Then sample some of the following September 5Ks. You can dislodge your summer doldrums, reap the rewards of the crisp air, and aim for an energized 5K experience!
Labor Day celebrates American workers and what better way than to honor our four-legged partners as well? On Saturday, September 2, pay tribute to track horses at the Run for the Horses 5K Run/Walk, which benefits Saratoga-based non-profits that rescue and provide second chances for retired racehorses. You can meet and greet retired race horses who, being athletes themselves, may take a personal interest in your race. Walkers and canine companions are welcome as well, and there is a Kid’s Half-Mile Fun Run prior to the main event.
The USATF certified course is based from Saratoga Spa State Park’s Orenda Pavilion – following the same route as Kelly’s Angels Mother-Lovin’ Day 5K – over flat and rolling park paths and roads – a pleasant break from the usual Warming Hut or Columbia Pavilion-based 5Ks! Hot Tip: For speedsters wishing to challenge the horses, note that the route is twisty in places, necessitating a corner-to-corner strategy. (runforthehorses5k.com)
Also on September 2, is the classic SEFCU Labor Day 5K Race/Walk at University at Albany’s SEFCU Arena – note new day and location! The 5K course is being firmed up shortly, but will be a modification of the basically flat three-mile course utilized at the HMRRC Winter Series races. As Josh Merlis of Albany Running Exchange reflects, “There’s something exciting about running on a course that I typically venture on when the ground is covered in snow and every inch of my body is covered in clothing.” Hot Tip: Fitness fanatics, save energy for the SEFCU Team Strength & Conditioning Team Challenge (eventbrite.com), from 7am-4pm at the NCAA track & field. (hmrrc.com)
No matter what your running group, the Malta 5K on Saturday, September 9 fits the bill. It is part of the USATF Adirondack Grand Prix Series, Fleet Feet Championship Race, and Saratoga Stryders Grand Prix, so test yourself against top level competitors aiming for grand prix points as well as cash prizes. New this year, there is a “friendly business challenge” team competition among employees of major sponsors with top teams winning a donation to their favorite charity. Rock Your Fitness of Malta has been the perennial top three team for the past few years.
The fast course begins at HVCC’s Tec Smart, winds through the Luther Forest Campus, past the Malta ballfields and onto a one-mile tour of Global Foundries. In a moving 9/11 tribute, all participants finish under a giant American flag hoisted by the Round Lake Fire Department. Proceeds benefit local first responders and VETHELP for homeless veterans. Hot Tip: HVCC TEC Smart is offering morning tours. (malta5k.com)
Also on September 9, consider the Camp Challenge 5K Trail Run/Walk (or 30-mile Bike Ride) with 100% of profits sending children coping with a serious illness to attend Double H Ranch free of charge. This is your chance to help a child who might otherwise not have the opportunity to experience the outdoor freedom we sometimes take for granted.
The race site is at the Double H Camp at Lake Luzerne in the southern Adirondacks, so race director TJ Roode warns you to expect a few hills in the 5K, which concludes on the camp’s ski hill. There’s a fundraising requirement for the Camp Challenge Ride but not for the trail run. Hot Tip: Pretend you are back at summer camp because afterwards all guests are invited to participate in a fun “Float for Hope” on Lake Vanare where an attempt will be made to set a Guinness record for the most attached floats! (doublehranch.org)
Head on out to Schenectady on Saturday, September 16 for the Upper Union Street Scholarship 5K Run to raise funds for scholarships for Notre Dame-Bishop Gibbons, Schenectady and Niskayuna high school students. The USATF sanctioned race begins behind the Trustco Bank branch on Union Street, then runs along tree-line residential streets to a loop course through scenic Central Park. Stick around for refreshments, a DJ and post-race fun. Hot Tip: If you have kids, they can expend some of their energy on the new playground, and cool down watching the ducks swim on the pond. (upperunionstreet.com)
The following day, you can run in another nice community at the 38th annual Dunkin’ Run, hosted by the Sidney Albert Albany JCC. On Sunday, September 17, you can choose between a 5K, 10K or 15K through the tree-lined streets and sidewalks of the lovely Whitehall neighborhood of Albany, starting and finishing at the JCC. The Munchkin Run kids’ half-miler takes place soon after the main events.
The Dunkin Run attracts nearly 1,000 runners and is a vital fundraiser for the JCC and benefits its programs for seniors, kids, camps and more. Starting July 19, the JCC is holding free training runs on Wednesdays at 6:15pm, starting at their pavilion – all welcome. Hot Tip: Plenty of bagels, coffee and donuts after the race! (albanyjcc.org)
Looking for a county fair and strong community atmosphere without spending big bucks? Then enter the FAM 5K “Fund” Run/Walk on Saturday, September 23. Launching from the Cobleskill Fairgrounds, located 30 minutes southwest of Schenectady, just off I-88. There is plenty of post-race food, drinks, massages, community booths, and kids’ activities to keep you entertained. Race director Frank Privitera proudly asserts that “As far as we know, we are the only race in the country that awards mutual fund shares to the top female and male overall finishers, as well as the top finishers in age categories – all the way through 80-plus!”
FAM also stands for families, with a pre-registered family discount, and a free kids’ race (for ages six and under) to include a child-sized T-shirt. The course winds up and down McArthur Avenue, where you can cheer on those ahead and behind you, and then takes a rolling route around the SUNY Cobleskill campus. There is a strong contingent of walkers, which also make this a family-friendly excursion, providing excellent support for the Catholic Charities of Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie counties who are this year’s beneficiaries of race proceeds. Hot Tip: Stick around for the generous raffle prizes and the heavenly Brooks BBQ chicken picnic! (fam5k.com)
If you want a nice town park setting, sign up for the Crossings 5K Challenge Run/Walk on Sunday, September 24 at the Ciccotti Center in Colonie. The 5K is a flat, fast course through the 130-acre Crossings Park, with chip timing by AREEP – and walkers are welcome. Kids ages 13 and under get to choose between the one-mile chip-timed competitive run or free quarter-mile fun run. All registered kids receive a medal and are entered to win a Ciccotti pool party for 20 guests! The race benefits the Colonie Youth Center. Hot Tip: Post-race celebration includes music, food and awards, so don’t leave early. (colonieyouthcenter.org)
Also on Sunday, September 24, come to Clifton Commons for the Nick’s 5K Run to be Healed in Clifton Park. There’s also a Family Carnival, a special day for everyone affected by cancer to join together and make a difference in a child’s life. In 2016, Nick’s Fight to be Healed Foundation granted over $100,000 to The Melodies Center at the Bernard & Millie Duker Children’s Hospital at Albany Medical Center, and to local families struggling to heal their children. This year’s run/walk and festival honors five-year old Lucas Santoro who was diagnosed with leukemia when he was two years old.
There is something for everyone with Nick’s Dash (ages six and under), Luke’s Mile (ages seven to 10), Zumba Warm-Up, Two-Mile Walk, and 5K Run/Walk. The Zumba warm-up is quite a sight with the entire community participating in a fun dance routine. Massages and even a chiropractor will await you at the finish line. Dogs and strollers are permitted for the two-mile walk but not for the 5K run. Hot Tip: You get to sleep in as the festivities start at 10am and the finale 5K race kicks off at 1pm. (fighttobehealed.org)
Short and sweet may be the game-changing approach you are looking for this season. And with less of a time commitment, you can target several of these races unhampered by a lengthy recovery period.
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.