Running in below-freezing temperatures the morning after a nor’easter dumped nearly a foot of snow on the ground is not the hard part.
At least not for some runners at the area’s major Thanksgiving Day road races. Waking up early on a holiday? Easy. Running a 5K? Please. Avoiding slips and slides on hilly stretches of the course? Annoying, maybe, but not hard.
“It’s the waiting,” said 28-year-old Rachel Waller, of Burnt Hills. “Waiting for the race to start is the hardest part.”
Even four layers couldn’t shake the shivers and chattering teeth that plagued Waller and her fellow runners Thursday morning at the 13th annual Chris Dailey Turkey Trot in Saratoga Springs. But just a few minutes into the 5K, runners warmed right up and smiles broke loose. As usual, many said the race made them feel better about the second and third (and fourth and fifth) helpings of turkey and pie they would inevitably consume later that day.
“The snow was a little daunting last night,” Waller said Thursday morning. “But I feel like the more snow, the better. I like running in the rain, too. I never considered not coming.”
The nearly 1 foot of snow that fell on the Capital Region through Wednesday night did little to stop runners from turning up to the area’s three major road races Thanksgiving morning. Saratoga Springs was a wintry wonderland the morning after the first major snowstorm of the season, but the snow had stopped and the roads were clear and the course was salted and the race went on. There was never any doubt it wouldn’t, said organizer Mark Dailey.
“We said, let’s just keep moving with it,” he said. “We didn’t want to cancel this thing. It’s so much work. It’s such a nice event. But I mean, if it had been dangerous for people to get here, we would have. Safety first.”
Nearly 3,400 people registered for the Saratoga road race, which kicked off bright and early at 8:30 a.m. Thursday. There were the usual sights: racers in turkey hats, colorful running outfits, police officers directing traffic and wishing passersby a happy Thanksgiving. And the usual sounds: exclamations between old friends in town for the holidays, cheers from the sidelines, Christmas music over the loudspeakers.
Dailey said the snow likely caused some to reconsider, since last-minute registration numbers were lower than in previous years. But overall, the turnout was similar to recent years, he said. The race itself has grown from 350 runners in 2002 to nearly 10 times that by 2012.
“One year, we had a little snow when they were running and it got a little slick out there,” Dailey said. “This is better, because they cleared the roads for us and they’re pretty safe. But if the snow had still been going this morning, it’d be hard to catch up with it and it wouldn’t have been pretty.”
The Foundation for Ellis Medicine’s annual Cardiac Classic went on as planned in Schenectady, drawing about 1,600 registered runners — down slightly from last year’s 1,730. The drop was likely due to the storm the night before, said Kristen Adach, special events and communications specialist for the foundation. At least 150 walkers and fun runners showed up, as well, she said.
The 67th Troy Turkey Trot, one of the oldest road races in the country, also drew a large crowd Thanksgiving morning with 7,477 participants. The last time the race was canceled because of snow was 1971, when the city got 22 inches.
It took 17-year-old Emily Acker just a little over 21 minutes to complete the Chris Dailey Turkey Trot, leaving her time to cool off and catch her breath before her aunt completed the course. The pair first decided to run the trot last year to start a new Thanksgiving Day tradition.
Wednesday’s storm did cause them to check the race website throughout the night a few times, just to make sure it was still on, but it didn’t make them think twice about running.
“I guess you do have to be a little crazy to run in this weather,” said Acker. “It’s kind of tough to run when it’s really cold out, but I don’t know, it’s also fun. I like the snow this year. It made the course a little different.”
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