In December, I wrote about the physical and psychological benefits of running outdoors in the winter months. It is the best time of the year to establish a consistent mileage base. In addition, running in the winter can boost your spirits and set you up to have a great year. Unfortunately, the cold, wind, ice, snow, and especially the darkness can be significant obstacles to being a “winter warrior.”
Fortunately for area runners, there are many group runs, workouts and race series to help you keep moving. The Onteora Runners Club (ORC) has two great series during the winter months. Every Saturday at 9:30 a.m., the ORC Winter Breakfast Runs take off from various locations from January to early March. The Breakfast Runs are group runs of approximately 6 miles. ORC board member Phil Canion dutifully marks all the courses so all can follow. The participants run at a pace they desire. It is possible to make the runs longer or shorter. Pre-pandemic, we would share breakfast at a nearby eatery. This year, the breakfast is “tailgate-style.” Participants should feel free to bring a snack item to share. There is no fee for these runs, and all are welcome. It’s an excellent way to meet other local runners. The remaining six weeks of the series are:
• Jan. 29: River Road Run. Meet at the Ulster BOCES, Route 9W, Port Ewen.
• Feb. 5: Tour of Kingston. Meet at Dietz Memorial Stadium.
• Feb. 12: Walkway over the Hudson. Meet at the parking lot for the Walkway in Highland.
• Feb. 19: Ashokan Reservoir Run. Meet at the Ben Nesin Laboratory parking lot on BSW Road in Olivebridge, N.Y.
• Feb. 26: Saugerties Lighthouse Run. Meet at the Kiwanis Ice Arena in Saugerties.
• March 5: Tour of Rondout. Meet at municipal parking on East Strand, opposite Ole Savannah Restaurant in Kingston, N.Y.
Last year, the ORC had its first Winter Survivors Series of hybrid races. Max Gruner of the ORC board designed five-race routes in the city of Kingston. The five races take participants to every part of Kingston. The series has two ways to participate. Participants have an eight-day window to complete each race and then report their times. On the second Sunday of each window, there will be a group start time for people wanting to run with others. To register for this series, visit zippyreg.com. The schedule for the five weeks is:
Jan. 30-Feb. 6: Stockade Sprint, 1.75 miles.
Feb. 6-13: Midtown Meander 5K.
Feb. 13-20 Manor Madness 5K.
Feb. 20-27 Downtown Up 10K.
Feb. 27 – March 6: One Hour Run.
The eight-day window was designed so that it would be possible to do two races on one weekend in case someone had to miss a week. Every week, registrants will receive a detailed information email with a course map. The fee for the entire series is $25, and participants who complete all five races will receive a great “swag” blanket.
Other group runs that happen throughout the year are especially helpful in getting you out of your house in the winter.
The “Moderate Monday” group runs leaves from Dietz Stadium in Uptown Kingston at 5:30 p.m. This run was started many years ago by Dick Vincent when he had a running shop in Kingston. This run organized by Diana Karron, the president of the ORC, varies in length from four to six miles and is done at a conversational pace. It is designed to be an easy recovery run. Karron instituted a “no one left behind” policy for the group. Therefore, newcomers can rest assured that they will not run alone. Contact Karron at email@example.com or check the Onteora Runners Club Facebook page for information on this run.
Wednesday evenings, I conduct an interval workout at Dietz Memorial Stadium. We meet at 6 p.m. to warm up and start faster running at 6:20 p.m. The intervals are run by time, not distance. Everyone starts and finishes each interval together, and, most importantly, gets the same amount of recovery. What varies is the distance each individual runs during the timed segments. No one is pressured to run faster because they think others are waiting. When the track is clear, we use it, and when it’s not available, we use the 675-meter bowl that goes around the stadium’s perimeter. During the winter months, the intervals are run at “tempo pace,” which is a pace a runner could hold for a one-hour race. We do approximately 20-30 minutes of tempo running. When the workout is over, we will have run for about 60 minutes. I have coached on the youth, high school, college, and adult levels, and this type of workout is highly productive both physically and psychologically. The participants in this workout are a broad range of people, and there is a place for everyone.
Every Sunday, the Keegan Army Running Club hosts two 5K runs starting at Keegan Ales on St. James Street in Midtown Kingston. The first 5K goes off at 10:15 a.m., and the larger group takes off at 11 a.m. Some people run both. The 11 a.m. group includes several walkers, so there is room for all who want to get some outdoor exercise.
The best way for someone to find out if any of these group runs are for them is to come and try them out. I suspect you will enjoy any of them and will discover a “support group” in your journey to fitness.
The last race in Ulster County in 2021 was the Viking Run on Dec. 26, 2021, in Rosendale, N.Y. This six-mile race is renowned for being a tough challenge. The course goes up or down and is rumored to be uphill both ways.
The overall winner was Declan Dwyer-McNulty of Red Hook. Dwyer-McNulty ran a sterling time of 34:45. His performance was the fastest on the course in more than a decade. Taking second place was Adam Beach, also of Red Hook, in 38:09. Following Beach to the finish line was Sam Heraghty of Poughkeepsie in 38:41. The women’s winner and taking 5th place overall was Kerhonkson’s Lucy Brash in 41:39. Taking 2nd and 3rd place for the women were Jessy Narimanov of Pueblo, Colo. (42:32) and Kingston’s Farrier Gathen (47:33). Winning the men’s 60-69 age group was Middletown’s George Shurter in 54:40. In the mid-1980s, Shurter set the still-standing course record of 33:13. It was nice to see Shurter back at the race and pretty cool to see him at the top of his age group. The Onteora Runners Club would like to thank the Town of Rosendale and St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church for their cooperation in helping make this race possible.
Another way to keep up your training during the winter is to pick out a few races to run. Save the following dates:
• January 30, the Pete Sanfilippo Winter Run. This five-miler is hosted by the Mid Hudson Road Runners (MHRRC) in Lagrange, just east of Poughkeepsie. Sanfilippo was a long-time race organizer in Dutchess County who passed away in 2016. He helped found the MHRRC in 1978. I admired Sanfilippo for many reasons. He helped mentor me as a young race organizer and welcomed me into the Mid Hudson Road Runners with open arms.
Sanfilippo was the consummate family man. He was dedicated to his community and volunteered in many capacities. He was Dutchess County’s Senior Citizen of the Year in 2013. Sanfilippo had a broad smile, a generous heart, and his word was his bond. I urge everyone to go to this race and honor an individual who dedicated a lifetime to the running community. For information on this run, visit the website mhrrc.org.
• The Orange Runners Club annual Winter 5K Series in Middletown has three races left on January 30, and February 13 and 27. For information, visit the website orangerunnersclub.org.
• In March, look for the Mid Hudson Road Runners Ed Erichson Memorial Run (5 and 10 miles) on March 6. Then, on March 13, there is the Kingston Shamrock Run 2-miler and the Celebrate Life Half Marathon in Rock Hill, N.Y. Finally, be sure to circle April 9 for the Mohonk Preserve’s Bridge to Bridge 5-miler and April 24 for the Kiwanis Kingston Classic. The Classic will have three race distances — a 10K, 5K, and a 1.5 miler.
What do all these races in three counties have in common? I have participated in all of them, and they are high-quality running events put on by a cadre of passionate volunteers. Use these winter workouts and races to prepare for a great year of running in 2022.