You could call it a baptism — belated — of sorts.
In 2007, Scott Mindel was stuck on a runway on his way to work for the summer in Brussels, Belgium, and missed his connection.
Since the next flight didn’t leave until the following night, his father, Mark, drove from Ballston Lake to New York to visit his son, and it occurred to them to make a side trip to Sunken Meadow State Park on Long Island, where Scott and the Shenendehowa Plainsmen won the 2002 cross country state Class AA championship.
Scott and a few teammates had had the idea to jump into Long Island Sound in celebration, but were corralled for a team photo and never made the plunge.
“So there’s a few of us in the picture with our shoes off,” he said.
This time, Scott had time to douse himself in the Sound, and there’s a picture of he and his dad, grinning in the summer light.
This morning, Scott Mindel will get another type of baptism, and his father will be there, as he always is, for this one, too.
Mark Mindel is the only person to have run in all 33 editions of the Gazette Stockade-athon 15k, and when he toes the line again for the 34th at 9 a.m., his 23-year-old son will be there for his first Stockade-athon.
“I’ve never done it, because this is right before [NCAA] regionals in cross country, or, in high school, it was right before the state meet,” said Scott Mindel, who ran for the Cincinnati Bearcats and is working on his master’s degree in aerospace engineering. “I’m done with my eligibility, so I figured I’d see if I could continue the tradition.”
“It’s awesome,” Mark Mindel said. “He always told me I could end my Stockade-athon run, and he’d start his. He’s 23; I was 24 when I ran the first one. He’s got some years on me.”
Mark Mindel is a three-time Stockade-athon champion, tying with Scott Ferguson in the inaugural year, 1976, tying Jay Smith in 1977 and winning outright in 1979 with a time of 47:29, which will take Scott some doing to equal someday.
Scott would like to be under 49:30 today, which should place him near the top 10.
A two-time winner of the Savannah Half Marathon, he is coming off a personal-record 1:10:40 in the Columbus Half and has run a 50:10 for 15k.
He speaks with admiration of his father’s accomplishments, including a 2:26 to win the Montreal Marathon in 1979.
“He really likes this race,” Scott said. “The first two years, he tied, and to this day, he says he could’ve outkicked the other guy, but ‘That was back in the hippie days, so we just wanted to tie.’ ”
“When I ran 47, that’s a 5:05-ish pace; now I’m happy with 10 minutes,” Mark said. “Scott will be twice as fast as me. He’s very confident. I don’t want him to put too much pressure on himself to win one someday just because I did. But no matter what you say to him, he’s got a mind of his own.”
And he’s putting it to good use.
Scott, whose specialty is fluid dynamics, is working with a research group that is using microphones to determine where blockages occur in plastic piping.
“The whole point is to show what we can predict, then get more funding, and hopefully that will translate to human [arteries],” he said.
At Cincinnati, he’s been in a co-opt program that has sent him for semesters in Georgia, but also Brussels, where he enjoyed living on the outskirts of the city and choosing from a variety of running trails.
While there, he had an opportunity to watch Alan Webb break the 25-year-old American record in the mile at a meet in Brasschaat, Belgium, but Mindel was tied up with fluid dynamics of a different sort.
“I got sick that weekend and was throwing up the whole night before,” he said. “I could’ve witnessed history.”
He’ll witness history at the Stockade-athon, by virtue of the remarkable run of his father, who has also competed in every Troy Turkey Trot since that race began in 1966.
Mark Mindel’s close shaves to keep his streak intact include two years ago, when he was coming off knee surgery that still affects how he moves, but he was able to get up to Saratoga Spa State Park for a few training runs on the high school courses and make sure everything is operational leading up to this race.
He no longer brings any aspirations of running a fast time.
Making the circle from Central Park and back will suffice.
“I’m proud of the longevity,” he said. “I’m just trying to finish. I think I can beat last year’s time, which was about 1:30.
“Two years ago, I had a knee operation in September. You always read about these pro athletes who get these arthroscopes, and weeks later, they’re back out there. It wasn’t like that for me. I’m still limited two years later.”
“He’ll be plodding along,” Scott Mindel said. “I’ll finish and then head back out there and try to find him and help him get in. Just to finish will be good enough.