March 2018 - RUNNING & WALKING
Spring Building Blocks
By Laura Clark
How lucky that we runners get a second shot at our January New Year’s resolutions! Come March and the advent of spring running, we are afforded another opportunity to reinvent ourselves. Whether you spent the winter relaxing on the couch, hamstering on the treadmill or playing in the snow, the urgent roar of the March lion is impossible to resist. This month’s road races offer a mix of distances, perfect for those coaxing lazy muscles into shape or for winter sports enthusiasts eager to build on an established base.
The only caveat is to venture forth cautiously even if your muscles are primed by winter activities. Snow-softened muscles are no match for hard pavement and a ski stride is different from a running stride. Just because you are in shape from winter activities does not necessarily mean you can hit the ground at your fall pace. The lamb’s gambol will return if you begin judiciously.
Many races on the docket, like the 38th annual Doc Lopez Run for Health Half Marathon, 5K & One-Mile Walk in Elizabethtown on Saturday, March 24, recognize this spring range of readiness by offering a mix of distances. Just one of the multitude of races founded by Doc Lopez, a 1980 Winter Olympic Games torch bearer, the event launches from Keene Valley Lodge with bus transportation from the headquarters at Elizabethtown-Lewis Central School. The majority of the course travels NY Routes 73 and 9N, so you can expect some hills, including the infamous Spruce Hill climb.
The 5K and one-miler begin in front of the school with less challenging terrain. Whatever distance you select, inspire your efforts with the Doc’s favorite saying, “There is no such word as can’t.” (doclopezrun.com)
On the same day, March 24, those desiring to assess their 5K fitness can head out to the Schenectady Firefighters’ 9th annual Run 4 Your Life 5K Run/Walk and Kids’ Fun Run, which traces the familiar Cardiac Classic 5K course in Schenectady’s Central Park. It is a family-friendly event, with strollers and well-behaved dogs invited to start at the back of the pack. According to Captain William Rockenstrye, “Dogs are part of most families and they should be included.” As far as he knows, there will be no firehouse dogs competing, but that could change! There is a heated trophy competition among local fire departments and the SFD Fire Safety House is available for children to explore. Afterwards, there’s a free Kids’ Fun Run and runners can partake in the free ChowderFest with competition, so vote for your favorite. Expect five-alarm offerings submitted by local fire stations and restaurants.
Michael Della Rocco, a retired Schenectady Fire Chief, has been instrumental in this race since its inception. For the past several years, the focus has shifted to increasing public awareness of the high rates of cancer among firefighters due to toxic exposure. According to Mike, “The Schenectady Firefighters Cancer Association now sponsors the race, with proceeds used for treatment expenses not covered by insurance and transportation for affected firefighters and family members to care outside the immediate area.” The former chief has successfully availed himself of these services and is now cancer-free. Learn more about the race, the SFCA, and register in person at the Adirondack Sports Summer Expo where the firefighters will be exhibiting. (neverfightalone.org)
The 39th annual April Fool’s 10K Race & 5K Run/Walk in historic Salem is on Saturday, March 31 targets money-wise spenders with the opportunity to participate in both races for one amazingly low preregistered $12 fee. Distance aficionados can enjoy a catered long run, while parents can run the 10K, and then join their children for the 5K. With the 9am 10K start time, and corresponding 10:30am 5K start, there’s a nice a gap between events, which will test the focus of even the most diehard doublers! The scenic 10K has some hills, while the 5K boasts a dirt road section.
The Kids’ One-Mile Race takes children 14 and under on a safe tour of the Salem school grounds. Falling as it does this year before Easter and Passover, you can bank some calories for holiday treats and feasts. This is especially vital if you are competitive as overall winners receive a gift basket of local products and age group winners – up to age 80-plus – receive a plate of homemade cookies. Proceeds benefit the Rotary student exchange program and Class of 2021. (aprilfoolsrace.com)
The fourth annual Blue Needs You! 8K Run on Saturday, April 14 in Saratoga Springs is fast becoming a local tradition with blue-clad runners coming out in force to support Shelters of Saratoga’s Code Blue protocol that provides emergency shelter to homeless individuals during periods of heavy snow or severe cold. While there are plenty of 5Ks and 10Ks, the 8K (five miles) is a unique distance, a step up from the ubiquitous 5K and not as intimidating as the 10K.
Mirroring the stressful life of the homeless, Code Blue is not an easy course, with some hills sandwiched in between the flatter Spring Run Trail. Participants are encouraged to form teams, with the largest getting special recognition. New this year is a free pint of Michelob ULTRA at the awards ceremony and after-party at Jacob & Anthony’s American Grille. Visit the Shelters of Saratoga booth at the Adirondack Sports Summer Expo to register and learn more about the 8K and their mission. (codeblueneedsyou.org)
Famously known as the “pie run,” the sixth annual Bacon Hill Bonanza on Saturday, April 21 near Schuylerville, boasts a concurrently run 5K Race/Walk & 10K Race, as well as a Kids’ One-Mile Fun Run with families receiving a $5 discount. While the 5K is relatively flat, the 10K does include some challenging hills, most notably on the out-and-back along Peck Lane. The website posts extensive maps and course descriptions, but the organizers urge you not to utilize Peck Lane during training as it is a private working farm road. During the race, however, it is the most exciting segment, with a grandstand of cows delivering encouraging moos.
First overalls win $100 and age groups, extending through age 80-plus, receive home baked goodies. But all are winners at this event, with homemade farm treats for all to eat! Proceeds are earmarked for the Schuylerville Sharing & Caring program to benefit needy children. (baconhillbonanza.com)
The ninth annual Plattsburgh Half Marathon, Relay, 10K & 5K on Sunday, May 6 in beautiful Plattsburgh, overlooking Lake Champlain and Vermont’s Green Mountains. The half marathon course takes athletes on an out-and-back tour of the City of Plattsburgh, by way of the Lake Champlain bike path and the SUNY Plattsburgh campus over a flat and fast course – perfect for setting that springtime PR! Plenty of aid stations dot the course. The race cap is set at 1,000 so register early.
The two-person half marathon relay lets each teammate split the distance evenly with each running 6.55 miles. Your race bib will get you admitted into the after-party at the City Recreation Center with food, music, awards and a silent auction. The event is a fundraiser for Team Fox for Parkinson’s Research, founded by Michael J. Fox to battle Parkinson’s disease. (plattsburghhalfmarathon.com)
Whatever your current state of fitness, there is a springtime race with your name on it!
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.