Nisky Fall Fun Run draws competitors

Age means little for 5K race participants; health, community, friendly competition promoted
Runners finish in the 5k run during the 10th annual Nisky Fall Fun Run at Niskayuna Town Hall in Niskayuna on Saturday.
Runners finish in the 5k run during the 10th annual Nisky Fall Fun Run at Niskayuna Town Hall in Niskayuna on Saturday.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

NISKAYUNA — In the final 50 meters of the 5K Nisky Fall Fun Run on Saturday, Sara Harrow and Abby Watson-Strickler were dead even in first place among the women barreling toward the tape in front of Town Hall.

Harrow is a freshman at Niskayuna High School who recently began her running career. Watson-Strickler, who did running sports when she was in high school, in the 1990s, is married, mother of two, a pediatrician, who recently turned 38.

Harrow pulled ahead in the closing meters to break the tape first. 

“I was pretty close to her the whole race, Watson-Strickler said. “I kind of caught up to her toward the end.”

“She out-kicked me. She had a good strong kick,” continued Watson-Strickler as she tried unsuccessfully to get her young son to give her a water bottle. “Ben, Mommy is thirsty. Sweetie, Mommy needs water. Ben!

Such was the scene at the 10th annual Nisky Fall Fun Run, where participants ranging in ages from elementary school children to senior citizens competed in a three-event fundraiser. Young children started the activities with a 100-yard dash, then came the 5K road race and then there was a 1-mile run.

Harrow described her strategy for the road race.

“I tried to pace myself throughout it; and, like, when I wanted to slow down, I kept on telling myself that, like, I could do it,” Harrow said.

Darryl Bray, a physical education teacher at Hillside Elementary School, finished in the top 10 for the men in the fun run. He said many of his former students and their parents participated. He said he thinks the event is a great showcase for Niskayuna’s community spirit.

“I think it’s a great credit to our community, and it promotes health and fitness,” Bray said.

Lori Peretti, town coordinator of community programs for Niskayuna, said the fun run functions as a fundraiser to help pay for programs like summer camp, fall soccer, chess and tai chi. She said the participation fee was $35, with a $70 cap for families with more than two participants. The event likely had about 160 runners. She said money was also raised from corporate sponsors.

Town resident Joe Skufca designed the 5K run with help from a friend of his involved with USA Track and Field, who helped measure the length. Skufca said when he was laying out the course, he intentionally constructed it with steep hills strategically placed among many neighborhood twists and turns. The aim was to prevent runners from getting into a flow.

“I’m actually glad I’ve never had to run it,” Skufca said. “It’s a pretty ‘turny’ course. It’s a pretty darn hard course actually.”

Keegan Cochrane, 19, a Schenectady Community College student, came in first among the men.

Cochrane said he’s working on reducing his 800-meter time from 1:52 to 1:46, which would allow him to qualify for the Olympic trials. He said he’d eventually like to run on the professional track and field circuit with a corporate sponsor. In the meantime, he said he loved the difficulty of the Nisky Fall Fun Run. 

“Oh yeah, it was tough,” Cochrane said. 

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