The 13th annual Gardiner 5K Classic will take to the roads and the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail in the hamlet, rain or shine, on Thursday, July 16 at 6:30 p.m. Awards will be given out to competitive runners in a number of categories, but walkers are welcome to cover the 3.1 mile course at whatever pace they choose. The run/walk is actually just the beginning of an enjoyable summer evening, with the Kids Fun Run taking place at 7:30 p.m. followed by a barbecue of hot dogs and hamburgers with cookies, chips and watermelon, free for all participants with their registration fee.
The event organized by the Gardiner Fire Department is really all about the community getting together, says EMT Donna Lyons. The race was put together by the town when it first began, but six years ago it was turned over to the fire department to organize so they can use the proceeds from the event as a fundraiser. The all-volunteer Gardiner Fire Department owns its firehouse and therefore is responsible for its upkeep. Past 5K events in Gardiner brought in enough funds that the department was able to put a much-needed addition onto the building, says Lyons, and this year’s proceeds will go toward some needed improvements inside the structure. The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail also benefits from the 5K.
The Gardiner 5K Classic begins and ends at George Majestic Memorial Park on Murphy Lane off of Route 44/55. There is parking available there, but additional spots, if needed, can be found at the Gardiner Reformed Church nearby on Route 44/55. The course will start on paved roads, from Sand Hill Road to Farmer’s Turnpike and then move onto the Rail Trail before returning to the park via Murphy Lane. “We’ll have two water stops along the way and water at the end of the run,” says Lyons. “And if it’s a really hot day, you may even see the fire truck with the big spray of water to cool people off… and residents of Gardiner may come out with their garden hoses, too, and spray you down if you want!”
Awards will be given out for winning male and female runners and winners in age categories of 12 and under, 13-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59 and 60 and over.
After the 5K is complete, the Kids Fun Run will be just that, taking place in the ballpark with the younger kids weaving around cones set up by the fire department and older kids running the circumference of the park. The evening concludes with the barbecue, prepared by members of the Gardiner Fire Department.
Based on participation in past years, as many as 300 people are expected to sign up for the 5K. Advance registration by mail costs $25. Print out registration forms at either townofgardiner.org or gardinerfireandrescue.org and follow the instructions for mailing it in or sign up on the day of the event at Majestic Park from 4:30-6:15 p.m. for $28, which will still include the barbecue. The Kids Fun Run costs $5.
Members of the Gardiner 5K Classic organizing committee — Donna and Luke Lyons, Barbara Clinton, Bernadette “Mimi” Koonz, Terri Colucci, John Fracase and Charlie Eidel — will have some “vintage” t-shirts for sale at the park from races of years past and will be assisted by residents of the Town of Gardiner, who help out in a number of ways, says Donna Lyons, whether it be to sign up people on the day of the event or to stand on the course and hand out water. Organizers do ask that participants leave the doggies at home and the same goes for strollers.