Runners, lace up your sneakers and get ready for the first — hopefully annual — Rosendale Runs event, coming your way on Saturday, October 10!
The Town of Rosendale used to have an annual footrace called the Plains Run, 4.4 miles in length. But according to Mary AlRoy, a member of the town’s Recreation Commission, the event “went extinct” a few years ago. It happened not long before she moved to town from her Manhattan apartment near the World Trade Center site, seeking respite from a stressful job and the lingering memories of the 9/11 disaster.
AlRoy had started running in high school, but never became a serious competitive athlete until adulthood. A growing interest in health and fitness led her to the discovery of the Natural Living Running Club established by WNYC-FM health food guru Gary Null, which met regularly for runs in Central Park. “I became a real running enthusiast,” she relates. “It became my life.”
After running in the New York Marathon “a couple of times” and venturing farther afield to compete in marathons in Portland, Maine, Las Vegas, London and Dublin, AlRoy hankered for a serious race closer to her new home in Rosendale. What tipped the scale for her was the closure of the badly deteriorated Rosendale Pool in 2012, shortly after her arrival — an amenity whose existence had been part of the town’s attraction for her in the first place.
AlRoy became a volunteer with the Rec Commission as the fundraising campaign to replace the pool was getting into high gear, and the parallel strands of her interests in running and swimming serendipitously became interwoven. “I thought, ‘We should do a race to raise funds!’ So I did a presentation to the Commission, and we formed a committee. I was introduced to the people who used to run the 4.4.”
Lisa Jerkowski, a born-and-raised Rosendaler who “knows people,” according to AlRoy, was one of the core group of “running enthusiasts” who took on the project. A diverse cadre of other supporters quickly signed on, not all of them competitive runners. The committee now also includes Erica Knapp, Luci Young, Kathleen MacKenzie, Rosibel Landau, Doreen Whitaker, Melinda Wright, Rich Wright, Terry Newman, Maffy Periodista and Khristina Carr. “It’s a very eclectic group of people, but they all seem to work well together,” AlRoy says.
The project quickly expanded beyond the original concept of reviving the 4.4-mile Plains Run, and this year participants will have three challenges of varying difficulty to choose from. For kids up to age 10, the ballfield at the Rec Center will host a half-mile Recreational/Fun Walk/Run beginning at 10 a.m. Organized by Knapp, a schoolteacher, the free kids’ event is “more like an obstacle course,” according to AlRoy, with stations for activities like hula-hooping or galumphing through an array of tires.
Although they are not certified as qualifiers for full marathon entry, the two “serious” races will be timed by Steve Schoenenkamp of the Shawangunk Runners’ Club, with medals awarded to the first three placements among men and women in each age category. Starting from the Rec Center at 8:30 a.m., the Plains Run/Walk will follow its traditional course through Tillson: across Route 32, eastward along the Rondout Creek on Lower James Street, turning south on Bloomingdale Road, west again on Grist Mill Road, recrossing 32 to Tillson Road, then north on Springtown, which becomes Elting Road. After the intersection with Mountain Road, the runners will come down the hill by St. Peter’s Church and then head back to the start along James Street.
Setting out a half-hour earlier, a group of what AlRoy estimates will be about 300 hardy runners from as far away as Georgia will begin their newly inaugurated Rosendale Runs Half-Marathon by following the same course — until it reaches the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail crossing on Mountain Road. There, the competitors will split off to cross the Rondout via the Rosendale Trestle, which should afford some spectacular views of early fall foliage by October 10. The rest of the half-marathon will mostly follow the rail trail, past Williams Lake and Fourth Binnewater Lake, with the turnaround point just before the trail’s intersection with DeWitt Mills Road.
But en route, there will be a special seasonal diversion that will really set this run apart atmospherically from others of its ilk: While passing through the Williams Lake property, runners will pass through one of the caves from the Binnewater area’s cement-mining heyday, illuminated solely by candlelight. “It will be lit by all the kids’ pumpkins that have been carved the day before,” AlRoy explains.
The pumpkin-carving activity will take place on Friday evening, October 9, as part of a Health and Fitness Expo at the Rec Center. The Expo will run from 4:30 to 10 p.m. on Friday and return from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on race day, featuring exhibitors of health- and fitness-related products and services involving sports, sports medicine, fitness products, sports clothing, shoes and training methods. The $75 fee for a table, as well as the registration fees of $45 to participate in the half-marathon and $25 for the Plains Run/Walk, all go toward the Rosendale Pool Fund after expenses. So do the sponsorship fees for Rosendale Runs: $150 for Bronze level, $300 for Silver and $1,200 for Gold.
Gold sponsors get their business names printed on a huge banner that will hang from the Rosendale Trestle on race day, among other prominent placement. So far, there are two Gold-level sponsors: TM Home Improvement, whose owner, Thomas Motzer, is a competitive runner; and Fortune 488, LLC, the real estate company belonging to George Fakiris and Stacy Varsos, who are planning to redevelop the former Tillson School into an apartment complex. Other sponsors signed up as of presstime include Central Hudson, Ulster Savings Bank, M & T Bank, Benjamin’s Essential Fitness Boot Camp, My Town Marketplace, ProBuild, P & G’s Restaurant, Team Pizza Racers, Floral Poetry and Rosendale town councilwoman Jen Metzger.
To minimize event expenses and make the day more fun for all, Rosendalers are “coming out in droves” to volunteer their time, expertise and equipment, says AlRoy. Highway superintendent Bob Gallagher is loaning a mobile stage for the awards presentation and entertainment. Recreation director Tara Burke will emcee; Mark Brandhofer of Ultimate Luau will deejay and supply audio equipment. Fre Atlast, a Recreation Commission member and proprietor of the TRANSnDANCEnDRUM Center, will position musicians from the Rosendale Improvement Association Brass Band at points along the route to revive the spirits of flagging runners. Many local businesses are contributing gifts for a raffle; Web hosting and design, graphic art and other public relations and outreach skills have all been donated. “Everyone’s chipping in,” AlRoy marvels. “It’s astounding.”
More volunteers are still needed, however — especially for “day-of” activities like staffing the water stations. For more information about how to support or participate in Rosendale Runs or the accompanying Health and Fitness Expo, call Mary AlRoy at (917) 344-9374, e-mail email@example.com, visit the website at www.rosendaleruns.org or check out Rosendale RUNS on Facebook.