May 2019 - RUNNING & WALKING
banner photo: 2018 Wilmington Whiteface Whiskey Run 10K. Joseph Kostoss
Spring Potpourri of Races
By Laura Clark
After our snowy winter, we are joyfully venturing outdoors. And even if, like me, you kept active skiing and snowshoeing, it is important to proceed gradually when reawakening road and trail-specific muscles. Fortunately, this spring we are offered a generous mix of events, short and long, hilly and flat, as well as combos featuring a variety of disciplines to complement our winter training styles.
First up, on Saturday, June 1 is the 41st annual Freihofer’s Run for Women in downtown Albany, offering a big-time marathon experience for the “price” of a 5K. Most marathons add a 5K or 10K as an afterthought to round out the family experience, but here the 5K run/walk is the real deal, surrounded by an expo, team competitions, a Junior 3K Run (ages 7-14) and free Kids’ Runs (ages 3-11) ranging from 50 meters up to one-mile. And while boys may join the girls for the kids’ runs and the Junior 3K, the 5K remains a celebration of women, girls and sisterhood, with the guys encouraged to cheer, mind the kids and volunteer.
My family has been running Freihofers since we moved here in 1994, with my grandkids starting out at 50 meters, and progressing all the way through the 5K. I remember my granddaughter Elena Suarez’s first go, where she was convinced her medal meant she had won the dash, through her first 5K where the adults dwarfed her in the lineup like trees in a forest, to her present-day confidence in her ability to challenge herself. Now as a high school senior, when I asked her what makes Freihofers special – besides the delicious chocolate chip cookies! – she replied that she enjoyed the family teams, and the fact that she could just relax and focus on herself as a woman and an athlete. Our family has grown up with this event from sister/sister teams to mother/pregnant daughter walks, to grandmother/mother/daughter teams.
Many women who had never thought of themselves as athletic, discover an all-female race is not as intimidating. From the Freihofer’s Training Challenge, to online buddy systems, to simple meetups with friends, they are encouraged to toe the line in celebratory fashion. And while 3,000 entrants initially seem like a lot, there is no jostling as everyone awaits their turn to cross the start and wave at the cameras, as they head toward the scenic Washington Park course. As each participant finishes, she is affirmed by cheering crowds, solicitous volunteers, and a race official announcing her name.
One of my fondest memories was chatting with marathon legend Joan Benoit Samuelson as she worked her way up through the crowd. The 61-year-old will be there again this year, soon after her amazing Boston Marathon 3:04 performance, where she crushed her goal of running within 40 minutes of her 1979 Boston (2:35) victory. (Freihofersrun.com)
Also happening on June 1, the 22nd annual Charlton Heritage 5K Run/Walk benefits the Charlton Historical Society. Part of the annual Founder’s Weekend, the race fittingly begins at the Old Red Schoolhouse and finishes at the historic St. Paul’s Church. The out-and-back route adheres to a “what goes up, must go down” philosophy with rolling hills and flats, and a downhill finish. Ainsley’s Angels teams are prominent, wearing their pink shirts and pushing their riders in racing chariots. Don Proulx, one of the pushers, comments that the race draws a large crowd of cheering spectators, “presenting a nice small-town Americana atmosphere. You almost expect to see Barney Fife there directing traffic with Aunt Bee serving up her famous blueberry pie.” The Kids’ 1-Mile Fun Run follows with a shirt and medal. (Charlton5k.org)
If you enjoy flat and fast (or flat and slow), aim for the fifth annual Good Karma 5K Run/Walk on Saturday, June 15. The USATF certified route on the paved trail within the Crossings Park in Colonie guarantees a speedy time unencumbered by traffic. Because of this, it’s also a great spot for kids to attempt their first solo 5K – or do the free Half-Mile Kids’ Run. Proceeds benefit AIM for Seva with the mission of educating rural Indian children. In keeping with this theme, the race is a cultural immersion with a yoga warmup, henna tattoos, Indian street snacks, music, and Indian folk dances. Register early to guarantee a gender-specific T-shirt in your size. (Goodkarma5k.itsyourrace.com)
If the gym was your default mode this winter, test your stamina on an obstacle course race. The eight annual Glens Falls Urban Assault 3.5-Mile Obstacle Race on Saturday, May 25, which takes place in and around the city of Glens Falls and benefits Crandall Park and Adirondack Vet House. Race director Randy Rath is proud of this family-friendly event and enthuses, “With over 20 obstacles spread out over the 3.5-mile course it is a great alternative to a straight 5K run.” Typical obstacles include ropes, stairs, slip-n-slides and climbing walls. This is a good starter event as the challenges are not meant to be intimidating and if someone is uncomfortable at a station they can always substitute pushups. There is plenty of time for Saturday errands as the first group takes off at 5pm in waves limited to 50 runners to prevent overcrowding. To maximize your fun, consider registering as a team! (Adkracemgmt.com)
Looking for mud and fun at an affordable family-style price? Then resurrect your lawn mowing sneakers and head out to the eighth annual TUFF eNUFF Obstacle Course Challenge at the BOCES Campus in Saratoga Springs on June 1. There will be plenty of opportunity to test your gym rat skills in muddy trenches complete with hurdles, hills, and slip ‘n slide standing water – all skillfully designed by BOCES “heavy equipment” students. After the one-mile Kids’ Run, the main event proceeds in three separate 5K waves for teens and adults. Herein lies the decision point: Do you want to christen the course and then cheer on friends, or would you rather hold out for muddier terrain and the opportunity to scout out the trouble spots? Expect 500+ team and individual participants, many of whom will be wearing clever costumes that become unrecognizable at the end. Mirroring the Prevention Council’s goal of helping youth navigate life’s challenges, kids and adults are encouraged to work together to surmount through these obstacles. (Finishright.com)
Whether you engaged in longer winter expeditions or not, there are two upcoming events waiting to test your skills. The first is Wilmington Historical Society’s benefit third annual Wilmington-Whiteface Whiskey Run 10K on June 15, where you can run the roads of prohibition! As runners cross the finish, they’ll be awarded a collector’s “whiskey flask” medal and can enjoy whiskey (or beer) tastings with local distillers, barrel making, food, fun and raffles. Friends can purchase similar souvenir race tees (Artshop.loremans.com/whiskey_run) to support their runner, an opportunity not often available. Afterwards, you and your family/friends can stay for the Heritage Festival, which includes an 1812 Battle of Plattsburgh encampment, music/stories of the day, old-fashioned craft vendors and tastings, followed by an evening Speakeasy at Pourman’s Tap House. And do congratulate the Bidelspachs who have chosen to save money by foregoing a big wedding reception and will be celebrating at the Whiskey Run! (Adkwhiskeyrun.com)
Finally, on Saturday, June 22 stretch your legs at the second annual Adirondack 15K Race to the Lakes. Runners launch from SUNY Adirondack in Queensbury, and proceed to the gently rolling Warren County bike path, enjoying a shaded, traffic-free journey, and a downhill finish with great views at Lake George’s Battlefield Park. Post-race runners can enjoy Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and the bus back to SUNY. Fittingly, the event benefits Lake George Association’s Floating Classroom. Building on the success of the inaugural event, this year’s race is approaching 200 runners – toward its 300-runner cap. Signup soon or consider volunteering. (Active.com) Happy Running!
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.