Pete Colaizzo, Special to Poughkeepsie Journal Published 8:00 a.m. ET June 11, 2019
There’s a day, it seems, for everything. Actually, there’s an app for it, too. Back on April 18, my daughter gave me a hug and wished me a happy “National Columnists Day” (yes, she has the app that tells you what “day” it is). Last Friday was National Doughnut Day and I made sure to “celebrate” this as well.
Last Wednesday was a “day” that actually packed some meaning globally and resonated locally. It was Global Running Day. According to globalrunningday.org, this is what it’s about: “Global Running Day is a worldwide celebration of running that encourages everyone to get moving.”
In Dutchess County, Fleet Feet Poughkeepsie joined other Fleet Feet franchises around the country for a coordinated event called the Big Run; Fleet Feet stores nationwide hold 5-kilometer races on Global Running Day. The fastest times nationwide win cash prizes. Kevin Dollard of Hopewell Junction was the fastest Big Run participant in the nation in the 60-69 division and won $100 for his elite time of 20:02.04.
Last year in this space, we mentioned that the Big Run was a “big deal” and in 2019, the Big Run was an even bigger deal. More than 300 runners signed up for the Fleet Feet Poughkeepsie Big Run, which was held on the Dutchess Rail Trail in the early evening.
This year, Fleet Feet Poughkeepsie owner and race organizer Kim Caruso decided to add a 10K event, which was extremely well-received. In fact, the pre-race registrants were split almost exactly 50/50 in both events, and the finishers’ numbers — 148 in the 5K and 143 in the 10K — reflected the popularity of the 6.2-mile distance.
“The idea of adding a 10K to the Big Run was really born out of a need we identified within our training groups,’’ Caruso explained in a post-race email. “We had several individuals who had participated in our 5K training groups and were ready for something more, but didn’t feel that they were quite ready to tackle the half marathon (13.1-mile) distance just yet; 10K is that perfect next step, however, the lack of local races of this distance provided a challenge as our training groups generally train with a specific goal race in mind. After much thought and consideration, I came up with the idea of adding a 10K to The Big Run which seemed to fulfill the need we had for our training groups but also seemed to satisfy many local runners desire for this distance as well.’’
The huge turnout puts the Big Run — relatively new to the local running scene — among the biggest draws in the calendar year. In Dutchess County, only the Dutchess County Classic and the Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trot races draw more than the Big Run. Caruso attributes this to the weekday evening format — no competition with other weekend races — as well the store’s reputation for providing runners with the best “bang for their buck.”
Nearly half of last year’s 5K runners came back and participated in that race again this year, Caruso said.
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“Our goal with any races or events that we organize is always to provide a first-rate experience,’’ she said. “We want runners to leave the event saying that they not only had a great time but also that they got a great value for their money.’’
Despite the hot and muggy evening, the forecasted thunderstorms held off and Caruso said the feedback from the race was 100-percent positive — not one complaint.
Here’s a sampling of the good vibes she received:
- Oliver Mackson posted in a local running-related Facebook group: “You and your crew put a great, well-organized, FUN race in some tough conditions. Everything was first-rate, from the course markings to the course itself, to the fantastic spread of food and drink at the finish. Take a bow.’’
- Another comment from William Hiemcke posted on Fleet Feet Poughkeepsie’s Facebook page: “Thanks to you and your team for hitting a home run, it was great. Thanks for having a 10K, we don’t see enough of them!”
- In an email from Anthony Ferreri, a Hyde Park runner who placed second overall in the 10K: “A very well-run event/race. I really enjoyed and was happy to see so many of my friends participated in a local race. Great job!’’
Caruso has added another subtle, but extremely popular, perk to races in which her store is affiliated: Pre-race packet pickup in advance of the race. Out of the more than 300 pre-registered in the Big Run, Caruso said 75 percent of the runners picked up the packet in advance at the Town of Poughkeepsie store.
“We have learned that pre-race packet pickup is something that local runners really seem to want,’’ she said. “Runners like to have their gear in advance and not be rushed on race day. This is something that we are always willing to offer to local race. For us, it gets runners into the store who may not otherwise have visited us and for race organizers, it can really lessen the number of volunteers needed on race day when the bulk of packets are picked up in advance. It’s really a win/win for both sides.’’
The Big Run 5K and 10K races were win-win all around. And on Global Running Day, the local running community thinks the world of the Big Run.
It was my great pleasure and honor last Friday to be a small part of the celebration for Carl V. Garofolo Jr.’s 25th anniversary celebration of his Hudson Valley Sports Talk radio program. The self-proclaimed “Voice of the Hudson Valley” has done so much for so many in the local sports community — including the running community. His longevity on the airwaves is noteworthy and he should be lauded for his staying power. Congratulations, Carl, and here’s to many more years behind the microphone.
Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club member Pete Colaizzo, the track coach at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, writes on running every week in Players. He can be reached at email@example.com. For more club information, go to www.mhrrc.org