The annual Gardiner 5K Classic Run/Walk every July always seems to happen on one of the hottest and most humid days of the summer. This year was no exception. But this time, the humidity that accompanied temperatures hovering near 100 degrees all day became a drenching downpour that let loose from the sky just minutes before race time.
Not that getting soaked to the skin seemed to matter much to the 161 participants that stayed the 3.1-mile course event last Thursday, July 20, a fundraiser for the Gardiner Fire Department. When the signal to begin was given, off they went.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen it rain like this on the race before,” said Carol Ann Majestic (Lohrman), 28-year member of the Gardiner Day Committee and a volunteer with the annual 5K event since the first one in the hamlet 15 years ago. Stationed near the race’s midway point, where the runners exit the Rail Trail on their way back to the park named for her father (longtime town supervisor George Majestic), Carol Ann held down the fort at a table laden with large thermoses of water for the 5K participants.
Majestic was ably assisted by her granddaughter, Amanda Caso-Sobon, 9, and Amanda’s friend, Olivia Urrico, 10. The two girls, who both attend Lenape Elementary School, had the routine down pat: stand off to the side with plastic cups of water in each hand for grab-and-go access by any of the runners zipping past them on their way to the finish line. (Inexplicably to this correspondent, many of the runners grabbed a cup of water only to dash it over their heads. Understandable in hot weather, but it was pouring rain at the time!)
Olivia was a first-time volunteer for the event, but Amanda was an old hand at it, this being the fourth or fifth time she’s helped her grandmother out with water detail. (And when you’re nine years old, that’s half your lifetime!) It didn’t take long for the girls to get completely drenched, despite wearing hooded raingear, but both agreed that it was probably better to do the job in the rain with the temperatures having dropped a bit than it would have been had it been as hot as it was earlier in the day. Amanda’s twin brother, Aiden Caso-Sobon, and father, Michael Sobon (Carol Ann’s son) were running in the race, making the event a real family affair.
Gardiner residents Horatio Geminiano and his young son, Johnathan, were another family team volunteering at the event. (On a side note, Horatio is running a free soccer clinic for youth in Gardiner this August; a brochure with details is available at Town Hall.) Like the other volunteers, neither appeared to be in the least deterred by the heavy rain.
That spirit of helping out is what enables organizers to keep bringing back the annual event. “It’s become a real community run,” said EMT Donna Lyons, a longtime member of the committee that organizes the event. “Everybody pitches in. We have a lot of townspeople who come out on the day of the event and volunteer to help.”
Local resident Glenn Noonan sets up a water table outside his home on the course every year, she noted, and there were students from New Paltz High School and employees of Walden Savings Bank from down the street lending a hand.
As in years past, the other members of the Gardiner 5K Classic organizing committee are fire commissioner Luke Lyons (Donna’s husband), Bernadette Koonz, Theresa Colucci, John and Landon Fracasse (father and son), Charlie Eidel and New Paltz High School principal Barbara Clinton.
The 5K event has a lot of local business support, as well, with nine Platinum-level ($500) sponsors this year, the most they’ve ever had, said Lyons. Local businesses who went platinum included Chris Martinez Excavating; Health Quest; Mainetti, Mainetti and O’Connor law firm; Gillette Creamery; Kimlin Propane Company, Inc.; Mobile Life Support Services; and three restaurants: Lombardi’s, P & G’s and Garvan’s. (Restaurateur Garvan McCloskey usually runs in the Gardiner Classic, too, but was in Ireland taking a tour group this year.) The 5K also received local business sponsorship at the $250 and $150 levels.
The proceeds from race entry fees and local business sponsorship go toward maintaining the facilities for the volunteer Gardiner Fire and Rescue crew. The fire department owns its firehouse in the hamlet and is responsible for its upkeep. Funds raised this year will go toward the department’s ongoing building project that put an addition on the structure a few years back and is currently making necessary improvements inside the firehouse.
The 5K is always followed by a Kids’ Fun Run for ages 2-11, which usually involves the little ones weaving around cones set up and older kids running the circumference of the park. The heavy rain this year flooded the park too much for that, so a straight-line run of age-appropriate length was organized by the basketball court. The older the kids, the longer distance they ran. Participants in the Fun Run received a medal, an ice pop and a gift certificate for ice cream from Stewart’s Shops.
The evening concluded as always with a barbecue, the price included in registration fees. Fire department volunteers cooked and served up hot dogs and hamburgers — the meat donated by Hannaford supermarket with rolls and cookies donated by Freihofer’s — and Drew Croce of Poland Springs (also the fire chief in Modena) donated 20 cases of water. Watermelon and chips rounded out the menu.
PR Timing was the official scorekeeper this year. Race results from the 5K may be viewed at www.prtiming.com/results2017/. The Gardiner 5K Classic draws a varied field of participants every year who represent basically every stage of life, with a stronger showing of participants than one might expect from runners in their 50s to 60s. The race/walk is not a qualifier for any larger competitions, but it does draw competitive runners seeking to challenge themselves along with those who come out more to support their community and a good cause.
The first runner across the finish line was 20-year-old Grant Boyd, with a time of 16:48. Second place went to 21-year-old Levoy Merier of Walden, with a time of 17:13, who just edged out 16-year-old Logan Linares of New Paltz at 17:20.
The fastest female runner was New Paltz’s Melinda Mirto, 33, whose 22:52 time put her at the head of the pack of the 76 female participants, just ahead of Gardiner’s Tera Stoner, 39, who logged a time of 22:58. Danielle Mazzella of Highland, 39, the third female runner to finish, also put in a strong showing at 23:19, steps ahead of 17-year-old Erin Metzger at 23:21.
The youngest participant in the field of 161 this year was 7-year-old Margo Kosofsky of New Paltz, whose 33:42 time brought her in as the 38th fastest out of 76 female runners.
David Ettenberg, 70, one of several challengers in that decade, scored a 29:02 time, finishing 48th of the 85 men, and the senior runner of the day, Bill Rosenberg of Wallkill, 76, ran a very respectable 32:34.
Information about the Gardiner Fire Department is available at www.gardinerfireandrescue.org.