A Seat in the Bleachers: This race will get my best effort — next year

As much as I’d love to run in the Stockade-athon on Sunday for the first time, after covering it eve

I was in Central Park covering the Grout Run a month ago when my managing editor, Judy Patrick, suggested that I should run in the Stockadeathon this year.

My feet and chronically dodgy left ankle have been miraculously healthy, so I have taken advantage of it and started running again in September. Still going pretty well as of this past Monday, too.

As much as I’d love to run in the Stockade-athon on Sunday for the first time, after covering it every year for the last 20 years, I told Judy that there was no way I would do it.

Now, 2009, I’d like to think that’ll be a different story, and the promise here is that, as long as my feet don’t break down, I’ll be in the field.

I know … lame; I’m already saying just wait until next year, and it isn’t even this year yet.

But when Judy pressed me on why I wouldn’t do it this year, I blurted out, “Because I don’t want to disrespect the Stockadeathon.”

Her husband, Steve, the coach of Greenwich, the top-ranked Class D girls’ cross country team in the state, nodded knowingly.

I had no problem jumping into the Fourth of July two-mile fun run in my hometown of Irondequoit this summer on absolutely no training and some spirited carbo-loading sponsored by the Guinness brewing company the night before.

I’ve targeted the Corporate Team Challenge the last two years and got wiped out by plantar fasciitis in the spring of 2007 and some old ligament issues in my ankle last May.

That transferred me to whatever genus the common garden slug resides in, so the Fourth of July race was an exercise in the spur-of-themoment self-indulgence of an outof-shape hack.

The Stockade-athon, though, is different. When I finally run in this race, I want it to be as close to perfect as possible.

And as well as everything has been going, it ain’t perfect with me Stockade-athon runners aren’t

right now, so I’ll sit on the sidelines, wimps.

again, and observe. Bill Rodgers and Amby Burfoot

This is the kind of stuff I expect signing bib numbers.

to see, based on what I’ve seen be- The two former Boston Marathon fore: champions will be at the Healthy

A great race at the front. Living Expo at Proctors Theatre

How could it be any better than from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday, and last year, when both the men’s and race director Vince Juliano said he women’s champions won by fi ve

seconds? believes they’re both planning on

Andy Allstadt outdueled Fred running in the race.

Joslyn, and Eileen Combs pulled If they do, they’ll draw a crowd away from Emily Bryans. of Sharpies at the finish line, like A record crowd of runners. Rodgers did last year. By the way, Last year, the Stockade-athon Bill, you still have my pen.

knocked on the door of breaking a Even if they don’t run, I encourmark that has stood since 1984; this age everyone to stop by and see

year, barring a whiteout, the race them at the Expo, which is free

should get more than 1,159. and has all kinds of exhibits and They haven’t had fewer than speaker seminars on a wide range 1,000 since 2003, and last year there of topics. were 1,133. Also, “Spirit of the Marathon,” a Mark Mindel hitting the finish critically acclaimed documentary, line. will be shown at Bow Tie Cinema He’s done it every year since at 11 a.m. Admission is $7 for adults tying for the men’s title in each of and $6.50 for children. the first two years of the race, 1976 and 1977. This is the kind of stuff I expect Mindel is the only person to com- to see at the Stockade-athon, based plete all 32 Stockade-athons so far, on new developments: and he e-mailed me last week that Again, a great race at the front, he’ll be there again, with an admit- and a record crowd.

tedly modest time goal, but deter- They’ve implemented computer

mined to finish. chip timing to tabulate results, which I saw first-hand at the Mohawk Hudson River Marathon.

It’s a nice little system, and although there isn’t enough room in the finish line area for the 100-inch projection screen, runners will be able to see their names on printouts not long after finishing.

Also, with prize money provided by Fleet Feet in conjunction with being assigned the USA Track and Field East Region 15k championship, there should be some dynamite talent in the field.

Entries were still coming in, but as of last Friday, Juliano said he already had the deepest field of elite-caliber amateur women in the history of the race.

So there’s a lot going on here, history, tradition, quality. I’ve been fortunate to be a part of it for a long time, and I’d like to do one of those middle-of-the-pack stories one of these days, but I’m not quite nearly in shape to do it justice. Sure, I could shuffle my way through, but the Stockade-athon deserves better, from me. Next year, though? I mean it.

Categories: Sports

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