On Thursday evening, July 21, runners (and walkers) of all ages and from as far away as Connecticut and New Jersey will converge on George Majestic Memorial Park for the 14th annual Gardiner Classic 5K Run. Registration begins at 4:30 p.m., and the race begins at 6:30., rain or shine.
“They’ll head out of the park, up Murphy Lane, onto Sand Hill Road and all the way down onto the rail trail,” explains race committee chair Donna Lyons. After about a mile on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, the runners will rejoin Sand Hill Road and return to Majestic Park. “A lot of residents come out and watch the runners go by their houses,” Lyons adds. “If the weather is really hot, some actually take their hoses out and spray the runners!” One year the temperatures were so high, she recalls, that the Gardiner Fire Department had to bring out a tanker truck and turn a firehose on the participants as they passed by.
Although the race is not an official qualifier for any larger competitions, it is timed via electronic chips on participants’ bibs, and some serious runners are expected to turn out. First-, second- and third-place male and female finishers in seven age categories, plus the top male and female runner overall, will receive prizes donated by local businesses — mostly gift certificates, Lyons says.
Youngsters can also get involved: There’s a Kids’ Fun Run beginning at 7:30 p.m. that stays inside park boundaries. Very small children simply run to their parents; 7-to-8-year-olds run around the bases in the ballfield; and older kids run around the perimeter of the ballpark, Lyons explains. All the kids who participate “get ice pops, medals that they can put around their necks and cards from Stewart’s for an ice cream cone,” Lyons says.
There are two water stations along the 5K route: one set up by a resident whose house lies along the route and another staffed by members of the Gardiner Day Committee. Following the race, the Fire Department will put on a barbecue that is free to all race participants: “burgers, hot dogs, watermelon, chips and cookies,” says Lyons. Non-runners will not be turned away, but “We’ll have a little donation jar there.”
The event is an annual fundraiser for the Gardiner Fire District, organized by Barbara Clinton, Terri Colucci, Bernadette Koonz, John Fracasse, Charlie Eidel and Luke Lyons along with his wife Donna. Platinum sponsors of the Gardiner Classic this year are the Gardiner Animal Hospital, Lombardi’s Italian Restaurant, P & G’s Restaurant in New Paltz and the Kingston-based law firm of Mainetti, Mainetti and O’Connor. A percentage of the funds raised will be set aside for the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail Association, according to Lyons.
By the time this issue of the New Paltz Times appears on newsstands, it’ll be too late to make the July 13 early registration deadline to be guaranteed a tee-shirt. But you can still preregister online at https://register.eagletiming.com/register/?event=37209, or download and print out the registration form at www.townofgardiner.org or www.gardinerfireandrescue.org and mail it with a $25 check made out to the Gardiner 5K Classic and mail it care of the Gardiner Fire Department at P.O. Box 271, Gardiner NY 12525. Registration on race day will cost $30. Kids can register in the Fun Run for $5 each.
For more information, visit www.facebook.com/events/1730505583892368.