SEP 2015 - RUNNING & WALKING
Fall Races with a Difference
By Laura Clark
For accomplished runners, fall races are synonymous with fast 5Ks and marathon efforts. Why the seeming disparity in mileage? The reason has more to with the season rather than the distance. Hot weather is now hopefully behind us and the time is ripe for both faster and longer efforts. With such a boost it is easy to become complacent, filling log books or Facebook boasts with incredible times. But why not attempt a different sort of measurement by aiming for an experience that offers personal challenge, family togetherness, and lasting memories of extending beyond the race results to support a worthy cause?
What makes the FAM 5K “Fund” Run/Walk stand out is that it is by no means another flat and fast fall 5K. Runners warm up on the Cobleskill Fairgrounds track, host to fabled harness horse races of yore, then assemble to funnel up MacArthur Avenue and circle the hilly SUNY Cobleskill campus. Not mere college speed bumps, these hills will set your heart pumping and your feet churning. One of my favorite parts of the race is the fan club of walkers, still plugging along, who cheer you on your return cruise down MacArthur.
The race goes off on Saturday, September 26, and it’s an event worth training for as overall and age group winners receive a hefty share of FAM funds. Additionally, FAM 5K hosts the USATF Adirondack 5K Open Men’s Road Race Championship. Children six and under can circle the track and receive a free T-shirt. Bring some extra cash for the Brooks BBQ and on the way home stop off in Middleburgh for some Barber’s Farm river-bottom corn – the best in New York! In this year’s charity rotation, proceeds will benefit Catskill Area Hospice and Palliative Care. Go to fam5k.com.
In the something-for-everyone in the community category, the Sunday, September 27 Dunkin’ Run, hosted by the Sidney Albert Albany Jewish Community Center, offers a tempting menu: a kids’ half-mile fun run, a USATF-sanctioned 5K and 10K, and new this year, a 5K racewalk and demonstration 15K run. According to race director Tom Wachunas, “Racewalking is a very unique sport and we have some very good racewalkers in the area. Like the 15K we wanted to see what the interest is but also add something unique to the event.” Long distance aficionados note that the trial 15K is limited to 100 slots because of issues with street closings, so register accordingly.
For all distances, the route is a flat and fast 5K loop, with 15Kers repeating the loop three times – perfect for family cheerleaders. This is another event worthy of a serious training effort as monetary awards are offered to overall male/female 5K, 10K and 10K Masters. In an understanding nod to parents, onsite $5 per child babysitting for two-month to 10-year-olds is available. So, courtesy of Dunkin’, boost your performance with a pre-race cup of caffeine and enjoy a well-deserved reward donut, and a dri-fit, long-sleeved shirt at the finish! Visit albanyjcc.org.
Also on Sunday, September 27 is Nick’s Run To Be Healed 5K in Clifton Park, which provides funds to families with children afflicted with cancer, so they can focus solely on healing and sharing time together. Founded in memory of Nick Cammarata, this year’s event is in honor of Kendra Sisco, diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The race is unique in that it truly allows you to sleep in, with the 5K run launching from the flat Clifton Commons-based course at 1:15pm. It is preceded by a plethora of family-styled events: Nick’s Dash, Nick’s Mile, a Zumba warm-up, and a two-mile noontime walk.
Nick had a great hat collection – the crazier the better – and participants are encouraged to honor his fun-loving spirit by donning their favorite. This might be a good place to get one more showing out of your fancy Saratoga summer headwear! Learn more at fighttobehealed.org.
On Saturday, October 3, break out of the pink party princess mold at the 21st annual Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Albany, and don survivor or solidarity pink in support of the world’s largest and most successful breast cancer education and fundraising series. Seventy-five percent of the proceeds remain in Northeastern New York, with the remaining 25% earmarked for grant programs. The 5K run course follows the traditional Madison Avenue Freihofer’s Run for Women route, with its initial warm-up hill, jaunt around the Washington Park boathouse, and finish line downhill to Empire State Plaza. And remember that guys are affected by and can get breast cancer too and are encouraged to participate!
For those survivors and friends not ready to run, there is also a two-mile family walk and, in a concession to families hefting multiple entry fees, children under 12 who run the 5K only pay $10. Shortly before the race begins, survivors, wearing pink tees, ribbons, visors and smiles are invited to a moving recognition ceremony and photo op. Then they jump into the race, positioned in the front row spot normally reserved for elite athletes. For after all, they are already winners. Go to komenneny.org.
The following day, Sunday, October 4, stretch your legs at the Heroes for Health 5K superhero-themed obstacle run at Prospect Park in Troy. While this will be its third running, this year there is a serendipitous tie-in with the NYS Superhero Summer Reading Program. Participants are encouraged to embrace the challenge and become three-way heroes: by donning a creative superhero costume (prize for best costume), by testing body and spirit over challenging obstacles, and proceed will benefit Whitney Young Health programs.
Besides flexing your superhero powers, you will become a hero to the economically disadvantaged families who turn to Whitney Young Health for one-stop services in Albany, Troy and coming to Watervliet. Obstacles, like the popular spider web and low crawl, are laid over a variety of terrain – trails, asphalt and grass, hills, and even a set of stairs. Teams of three or more people can save on individual entry fees, as well as students save $5 with an “.edu” email. Learn more at wmyhealth.org.
Test out your costume for the upcoming Halloween season at the second annual Running SCCCared 5K Fright Run/Walk on Saturday, October 17. Held at the popular Crossings of Colonie, this family-centered fright run benefits St. Catherine’s Center for Children, an organization that provides services for at-risk children and families. Everyone is urged to come in costume, the scarier the better, and there will be plenty of monsters on the course to help you run even faster.
St. Catherine’s children will add to the fun by wearing their Halloween costumes and serving water to the runners. As a family-style bonus, children 12 and under can join either the one-mile walk or 5K for free, with a $10 fee for a race shirt if desired. All children 12 and under will also receive a free trick-or-treat drawstring bag. Afterwards, extend the day with plenty of snacks and children’s activities. Visit st-cath.org.
Autumn is the time to reap the rewards of difficult summer training. So test your limits while at the same time helping others who are struggling to realize their potential!
Laura Clark (firstname.lastname@example.org) of Saratoga Springs is an avid trail runner and ultramarathoner, snowshoer and cross-country skier. She is a children’s librarian at the Saratoga Springs Public Library.