Record turnout of runners to hit city streets this morning

At least one record could fall at the 33rd annual Gazette Stockade-athon today - the turnout.

At least one record could fall at the 33rd annual Gazette Stockade-athon today.

As competitive as the men’s and women’s fields promise to be, the winners aren’t likely to threaten the course records, but the race was on pace to produce the most finishers ever, based on pre-registered numbers on Saturday.

As of noon, with three hours of signups left, race director Vince Juliano had 1,280 bib numbers accounted for and expected to get over 1,300. Using the 10 percent rule for dropouts and no-shows, the Stockade-athon could hit 1,200 finishers for the first time in the history of the race, but even if it doesn’t, the record could still fall.

Last year, the Stockade-athon had 1,133 finishers, 26 off the record set in 1984, and the race has been building its numbers steadily for the last four years.

The race begins on Central Parkway near the Central Park rose garden at 10:30 a.m. and finishes at the casino. The weather forecast calls for temperatures in the 40s and 50s with some clouds and no rain.

Juliano has 20 Schenectady police off­icers and dozens of volunteers to marshal the course, which covers 9.3 miles from Central Park down Nott Street to the Stockade and up State Street back to the park, but he still urged runners to be aware that they’re on city streets and to be alert and cautious of traffic.

Runners are not allowed to use headphones during the race.

“Being that it’s on city streets, it’s extremely important that they’re aware that there’s nothing to prevent a vehicle from backing out of a driveway, pulling out of a parking lot or disobeying a volunteer and plowing into runners,” Juliano said. “We do the best we can, and their last line of defense is to be able to hear, and if they have their headphones blaring, there could be a safety issue.”

Another final reminder to runners was to make sure their computer chips are attached to the laces of their shoes and their bib numbers are visible in front at all times, especially at the finish.

The Stockade-athon is using the Albany Running Exchange’s chip timing system for the first time, which will facilitate quicker results tabulation, but runners need to take a few measures to ensure that it runs smoothly and their finish times are posted.

“To be scored in this race, they have to wear their chip,” Juliano said. “If they leave it home tonight and forget, they’re not going to be counted. And they have to wear it on their sneaker. If they hold it in their hand or in their pocket, it won’t score. It’s got to be on their shoe.

“The other thing is to wear their bib number on the front of their clothes, on the outer layer. If we don’t see their bib number coming across the finish line, we might not allow them to cross the line, because it looks like they’re not paid or they’re a bandit runner. So make sure it’s visible on their front torso.”

The defending men’s and women’s champions, Andy Allstadt of Albany and Eileen Combs of Schenectady, are both scheduled to run, but they’ll have a tall order to repeat.

With $3,000 in prize money available to the open division compliments of Fleet Feet Albany, the women’s field is particularly deep, but the men’s race could be just as competitive.

Willow Street Athletic Club teammates Allstadt and Chuck Terry should be at the front, and Jul­iano was told on Saturday that a new face, Willow Street’s

Emory Mort, of Ghent, could join the fray.

He has beaten Allstadt several times this fall.

“The difference is he’s a 14:45 5k runner, Andy’s about a 15:10, Chuck’s about a 15:20, so, on paper, at 5k, Emory lays over these guys right now,” Juliano said. “Also, he’s experienced in the 15k. Two years ago he ran the Gate River in Florida in 46-somthing, so if he shows up, he could run 46-something, and I don’t know if anybody else is going to do that.”

Allstadt ran 46:36 last year, five seconds ahead of 2006 champion Fred Joslyn, who isn’t running the Stockade-athon this year.

Also expected to be in the field will be four-time Boston Mar­athon and four-time New York City Marathon winner Bill Rodgers and his former Wesleyan University teammate, Amby Burfoot, the 1968 Boston Marathon champion who is the executive editor of Runner’s World. They were a popular draw signing autographs at the Healthy Living Expo on Saturday.

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