Runners and cyclists will race where mules once trod, in the 10th annual Mohawk Towpath Byway Duathlon Oct. 14.
The 2.2 mile run, 16-mile bike ride and second 2.2-mile run will follow a portion of the Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway, which skirts the Erie Canal. The towpath was once used as a walkway for horses and mules that pulled barges through the canal.
The race, which is open to individuals and teams, offers something for the over-the-top athlete and the weekend warrior alike.
“It’s a great race which covers all types of skills from the expert runner to the family that wants to have a father-son or -daughter combo or a mother-daughter or -son combo,” said Larry Syzdek, chairman of the Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway Coalition.
The race attracts many athletes who ordinarily participate in triathlons, noted Eric Hamilton, executive director of the coalition.
“This is like an end-of-the season last hurrah for a lot of these guys,” he said. “It’s a shorter event than a triathlon event, so it’s really a fun way to wrap down the season for the more expert triathlon people. On the other hand, it’s really attractive to a first-timer, somebody that might be thinking about getting into the triathlon circuit and wants something a little bit on the less challenging side of things.”
There’s a place in the race for children as well. While the older athletes are warming up, a run and bike for little athletes-to-be will be held on a quarter-mile loop around the parking area. The young competitors will be rewarded with homemade cookie medals.
The duathlon raises funds for the Mohawk Towpath Byway, a series of local, county and state highways that follow the historic route of the Erie Canal from Schenectady through Niskayuna, Clifton Park, Cohoes, Colonie, Halfmoon and Waterford.
Funds generated from the race will help to finance historic preservation projects and other work as well.
“We also are working on a project to provide a cellphone-based tour of the byway so that when you come to a historic site, this tour would actually encourage you to get out of your car and lead you by the cellphone connection and describe exact what you’re looking at and the historical significance of it,” Hamilton said.
The race is a great way to raise awareness about the byway, he noted.
“What it really does is bring the community and our volunteers together and showcases the scenic qualities, as well as our historic communities through the midsection of the byway,” he said.
Volunteers are still being sought for the duathlon. Road marshals, registration workers, course checkers and communications personnel are all needed.