Steve Schallenkamp: A quick lesson on what those ‘expensive’ race fees pay for – The Daily Freeman

Steve Schallenkamp: A quick lesson on what those ‘expensive’ race fees pay for  The Daily Freeman

The Onteora Runners Club (ORC) is organizing the Ashokan Rail Trail 8 Miler on Sunday, Aug. 21, and the entry fee for the race is $30. In a social media post, someone opined that the race fee was expensive. Given that comment, I thought I would compare the price to other local races of similar
distance.

On the same day is a trail-running festival north of Kingston. Two of the races are a 10K (6.2 miles) with a fee of $40, and a half-marathon (13.1 miles) for $60. There are no awards or giveaways (t-shirts/medals). South of Kingston, there is a 5K for $35. This 5K will have awards but no giveaways.

These fees are typical of most races. The two local Ulster County running clubs are committed to keeping race fees modest. The local clubs have put on many races for less than $30, so that is why I suspect this person found the fee “expensive.”

Everything costs money, and with the recent inflation, everything is more expensive. I have organized many local events, so I know the expenses involved. First, you need liability insurance to protect all parties involved. Then there are race awards, typically 50 at a minimum, that need to be
purchased. Also, many runners like a commemorative item for all finishers or a set number of registrants. You need race bibs, pins, and often timing chips for timing. Participants expect post-race refreshments like cookies, bagels, peanut butter, cream cheese, fruit, wraps, and even soup.

Refreshments add to the social aspect of a race. Supplies such as flour, surveyor’s tape, and pin flags are needed to mark a course. Equipment is required, and, over time, needs to be replaced. Equipment includes a timing clock ($3,000), cones, tables, a backup timing device ($400), chairs, bowls, tins, cutting boards, knives, and many water containers. Also needed are paper towels, napkins, hundreds of paper cups, and sometimes paper plates, forks, and spoons.

At some venues, portable toilets are needed, and they are not inexpensive. Also, some venues have a permit fee ($250-$500) or a sizeable donation to the venue owners. Wanting to be good community citizens, many of our races raise money for local charities and scholarship funds. In this way, the races help a wider audience. It becomes a “win-win” for everyone. The runners get an excellent race, and the charitable organizations get some badly needed funds.

The local running clubs are 501c(3) organizations affiliated with the Road Runners Club of America, with yearly membership fees. Running clubs do have membership fees, but they are kept low and in no way could finance a club’s activities. What makes a running club viable is that it is a volunteer organization. Without this volunteer ethos/spirit, a running club would have to function more like a business, and race fees would be much higher.

Check out any races by promotion or for-profit management companies, and you will see race fees much higher.

Now is the time of year when there are a lot of races on the calendar. What makes a race different from just going out for a run? A run is a solitary venture; you can make it into anything you want. You can go hard or easy. You can use it to relax. On many a run, I allow my thoughts to coalesce
around thoughts on my mind or a project. Sometimes, running is just a physical act to condition my body and maintain my health. A run can be meditative, a “cleansing” of the stresses of life.

A race is less personal, simply because you are doing it with others. It has a competitive component to it. This competitiveness takes three forms. First, you are competing against others, perhaps to garner an age-group award. A typical race has overall awards for the top individuals and age-group awards in five- or 10-year age groups. For many runners, the competition is against themselves. They want to do better than they have before. They want to set a new personal record. They want to challenge themselves.

When I coached at the high school level, I would try and get my runners to understand that the other runners were their allies. They were helping you achieve something you could not do on your own. As a result, after a hard-fought race, competitors often high-five or hug each other, expressing joy
at what they all achieved.

I once heard a runner joke that the second-place runner was the “first loser.” But, of course, if you are a runner, you know this isn’t true. In a race, everyone can win.

On Aug. 1, the third race in the Shawangunk Runners Club Summer Series was held at the Mohonk Preserve’s Spring Farm Trail, just above High Falls. Lou’s Run is named in honor of one of the club’s founding members, Lou Gross. Lou loved to run and was enthusiastic about encouraging others to run. His favorite place to run was Spring Farm, a short ride from his home in Alligerville.

Lou had a personality that made you feel he was your best friend. Lou had a lot of best friends.

Runners head out in New Paltz Summer Series race No. 3, Lou’s Run, on Aug. 1 at the Mohonk Preserve’s Spring Farm in High Falls, N.Y. The pavilion in the background is the Slingerland Pavilion, where runners head to the start of the race. (Steve Schallenkamp photo)

By the time the race started, the sky was clear, and temperatures dropped to about 80 degrees for a perfect August evening of running. One hundred eighty runners participated in the 4.2-mile run and children’s races. Lou’s Run is a combination of grass fields, single track, and carriage trails. The
middle portion is a grinding uphill to the intersection of Cedar Drive and Bonticou Road. The runners are then greeted with a spectacular view of the Bonticou Crag, the northernmost outcropping of the Shawangunk Ridge. From there to the finish line is mostly downhill running. On your way down, you get spectacular views of the southern Catskill Mountains.

Taking top honors for the men were Galo Vasquez (25:27), Jake Meyers (25:35), and Luca Maneri (26:14). The fastest women were Kate Cochran (29:43), Shaylen Goslar (31:53), and Julie Hilson (33:47). Also having great runs on the mountain were Riley Brutvan (26:16), Ryan Kleitz (29:12), Max
Gruner (31:47), Lydia Brutvan (34:44), Catherine Herne (35:18), and Gretel Hilson-Schneider (36:16). The top runners over 50 were Don Thurston (33:20), David Roberts (33:28) and Jeffrey Feinsod (33:51). For the women over 50, the top runners were Julie Hilson (33:47) already mentioned, Jacque Schiffer (39:05) and Maya Eyler (40:36). This race was race number 5 of the Onteora Runners Club Grand Prix Series.

The final race in the 49th New Paltz Summer Series was the Patterson’s Pellet 3.2-mile run at Minnewaska State Park Preserve on Aug. 8. It was a hot and steamy night at the park. Thankfully, the run was the shortest race in the series, and much of the out-and-back course was shaded. The evening started with the kid’s one-half mile and one-mile races. The winners in the one-half mile were J. Judson in 3:01 and M. Fulton in 4:25. In the mile, the winners were Nate Clark (7:01) and Annabelle Brutvan (8:01).

In the adult run, 16-year-old Emerson Comer won his first ever summer series race with a 17:28. Comer was this year’s winner of the 50th Marbletown Road Race. Following Comer to the finish were Galo Vasquez (17:39) and Jake Meyers (17:43). The top three women were Kate Cockran (19:53),
Shaylen Goslar (21:48), and Gretel Hilson-Schneider (22:23). The top masters were Jeff Conston (22:09), who missed the start by 2 minutes and still caught the field, and Julie Hilson (22:41).

A great thing about the summer series is that it gets a wide range of participants, from those focused on competition to those focused on wellness. It gets a mix of ages from preteens to those over 80 years old. Many kids in the children’s races have gone on to compete in high school and college. Many have become lifetime runners. For the organizers, this is the greatest reward for all the hours put into this event.

I want to thank the Minnewaska State Park Preserve and the Mohonk Preserve for being helpful and gracious hosts for the series. In addition, a big thank-you must go out to longtime volunteers Diana Karron, Beth Glace, Christopher Regan, and Dan Freedman.

This year, helping to ensure that everything ran smoothly, were Wendy Tocci, Mariclare Cranston, Jan Alexander, Dennis Moore, Jason Taylor, Cheryl
Elsinger, Keith and Colleen Kortright, Pat Johnson, Denise Iannizzotto, Christina Haase, and Alan Goldberg.

Last, but not least, I want to thank Solveig Comer of Most Precious Pottery for the beautiful award mugs she handcrafts for the series participants.

September is right around the corner, and many races are on the calendar. Here are three of my favorites:

• First, on Sunday, September 11, is the Barry Hopkins Memorial Run at Olana. This 3.8-mile run is on the unpaved groomed carriage trails of the Olana Historic Site. Olana is in the town of Greenport, just south of Hudson, N.Y. Some have said that the former estate of the Hudson River landscape artist Frederic Church was his greatest landscape creation. The course affords spectacular views of the Hudson River and the northern
Catskill Mountains. The race does double duty as race number seven in the Onteora Runners Club 2022 Grand Prix. For information or to register, visit the website zippyreg.com and look for the date 9/11.

• One week later, on Sunday, Sept. 18, the Mid-Hudson Road Runners present their flagship race, the 44th Dutchess County Classic. There are three races to choose from; a 5K, 10K, and the featured event, a half-marathon.

Traditionally, this event gets well over 1,000 runners and has a running festival feel to it. All three races use the paved Dutchess Rail Trail, including the Walkway Over the Hudson. The day before, on Saturday, 9/17, there is a children’s one-mile race on the campus of the Dutchess Community College that is part of this festival of races. For more information, visit the website dutchesscountyclassic.org.

• On Sunday, Sept. 25, the Towpath 6K takes place in Accord, N.Y. This annual event is a fundraiser for the Little One Learning Center, a free literacy/daycare program located in the heart of the hamlet of Accord.

A fun feature of this race is the bus ride to the start in Alligerville. Then, participants run to the finish along Towpath Road, which parallels the route of the old D&H Canal. This race is open to everyone and is race number eight in the Onteora Runners Club 2022 Grand Prix. For more information, visit the website www.runsignup.com, and type in the name of the race.

I hope to see many of you at the Ashokan Rail Trail 8 Miler on Sunday, Aug. 21!

Steve Schallenkamp has been active in area running circles since 1966 as a runner, race director, volunteer and coach. He is a member of the Onteora Runners Club and president of the Shawangunk Runners Club.