Walkway Marathon Race Series will return next June; new one-mile race added for runners with disabilities

Last week the Walkway Over the Hudson announced plans for the second annual Walkway Marathon Race Series Park. Pictured in center with microphone is race coordinator Susanne O'Neil, to the right are Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, Executive Director Dutchess Tourism Inc. Mary Kay Vrba and Executive Director Walkway Over the Hudson Elizabeth Waldstein-Hart. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Last week the Walkway Over the Hudson announced plans for the second annual Walkway Marathon Race Series Park. Pictured in center with microphone is race coordinator Susanne O’Neil, to the right are Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, Executive Director Dutchess Tourism Inc. Mary Kay Vrba and Executive Director Walkway Over the Hudson Elizabeth Waldstein-Hart. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

The inaugural Walkway Marathon Race Series spanning Walkway Over the Hudson this past June was a success; so much so that plans have already been made to bring it back next year. The three-race event in 2015 — a newly minted marathon and half-marathon joined together with the already established Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club (MHRRC) Treetops to Rooftops 5K — brought more than 2,500 runners to the region from 32 states and six countries, attracting an estimated 10,000 spectators.

At a press event on the Walkway Tuesday, November 24, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro joined representatives of the Walkway Over the Hudson organization, Dutchess County government, Marist College and several other partnering organizations to unveil the plans for the 2016 Walkway Marathon Race Series to take place over the weekend of June 11 and 12.

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(And while next June might seem a long time away at this point, registration for the event begins Thursday, December 3 at www.WalkwayMarathon.org. Participation will be capped at 3,500 runners.)

The second annual iteration of the marathon series will include the same three races as in 2015 with the inclusion of a fourth run added to the mix: the one-mile, family-friendly, Think Differently Dash for people with physical or developmental disabilities.

“In just a few short months, Dutchess County will host the New York State Special Olympic Winter Games for the first time,” Molinaro said. “The Think Differently Dash will provide us one more opportunity to highlight individuals regardless of their disability, and celebrate the achievements and the drive of all those wanting to run.” The county executive said he intends to not only run the half-marathon again himself next June but to run the Think Differently Dash along with his daughter, Abigail, who lives on the autism spectrum.

The Think Differently Dash will kick off the Walkway Marathon Race Series on Saturday, June 11. It will begin on Market Street in the City of Poughkeepsie and be followed by the Walkway Marathon Health and Wellness Expo at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center that afternoon. The marathon and half-marathon, along with the MHRRC Treetops to Rooftops 5K, will take place the following day on Sunday, June 12. The route will take runners across the Hudson River over the Walkway from the City of Poughkeepsie in Dutchess County on the east side to the Town of Lloyd in Ulster County on the west. The run will follow the routes established in the 2015 event, beginning at Marist College and spanning stretches of the Dutchess Rail Trail, Hudson Valley Rail Trail and Walkway State Park over the river.

Organizers are seeking official marathon course certification through the Association of International Marathons and Distance Races. In addition to being a Boston qualifier, certification would allow the races to receive global recognition and increase the visibility of the Walkway internationally.

“Another big first for the Walkway Marathon Series is that it received environmental certification from Athletes for a Fit Planet as the first “green” eco-friendly marathon in New York State,” said Elizabeth Waldstein-Hart, executive director of Walkway Over the Hudson. “And this year we’re seeking even higher certification.” Environmentally friendly measures taken last year included shuttling runners to the site using Dutchess County’s public transportation hybrid buses and incorporating race bibs and other elements made from recycled materials wherever possible.

Business sponsorship of the series and registrant fees raise funds to support the Walkway. The cost of registration is $65 for the full marathon, $55 for the half-marathon and $25 for the 5K. The Think Differently Dash will have a small, as-yet-unstated registration fee and partnering organizations will assist in picking up the costs of putting on the event. Those organizations include ARC of Dutchess, Abilities First, Anderson Center for Autism, Cardinal Hayes Home for Children and Taconic Recourses for Independence.

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