The city’s signature race is ready for some significant changes that should improve the experience for an increasingly large number of runners.
Now, pretty much what the Gazette Stockade-athon 15k needs is a few more signatures.
Race director Vince Juliano is forging ahead with a plan to divert the course off the notorious State Street hill to a safer, more scenic — but equally daunting — incline, as well as cut a corner that will move the field away from Ellis Hospital.
When the 37th annual running of the Stockade-athon takes place on Sunday, Nov. 11, Juliano expects that these changes will be implemented.
He’s still waiting for the final official approval from the city, since new street closing parameters must be reflected in the permit to hold the race. Juliano received assurances this week that the paperwork eventually will be finished.
In the meantime, some paving work that will link asphalt paths in Vale Park and Vale Cemetery, although halted by Friday’s rainout, has begun, so Juliano is confident that the new course will be ready to go even though crunch time is looming.
“It’s a combination of the complexity of the permit process and the changes that are going on in the park, but I’m optimistic that the significant changes we want to make will happen,” he said.
One of the big course changes occurs in the first half of the race and is designed to get off a busy part of Nott Street, and the other cuts out the long, straight uphill from just past Proctors Theater to Vale Cemetery on State Street, a traditional element of the course.
The other major components of the historic race will remain intact.
They include the Rose Garden start in Central Park, the tour of the Stockade in mile 5, the lap around Iroquois Lake in the final half-mile and the finish at the Casino.
Shortly after mile 2, the runners will turn left onto Rugby Road instead of continuing along McClellan Street to Grand Boulevard.
They’ll reach Nott by weaving through Wendell Avenue, Douglas Road and Lenox Road, which means the course no longer goes past Schenectady High School and Ellis Hospital.
After making the turnaround back to the park via Washington Avenue, the runners will turn left on Clinton Street and right on Franklin Street, which is pretty much aligned with the entrance to Vale Park once you cross Nott Terrace. Although the field will still have to cross busy Nott Terrace, the change takes the intersection of Nott Terrace and State Street, the site of much delayed driver consternation over the years, out of the picture.
The runners will use the freshly paved bikepath in Vale Park up to the cemetery, where a 680-foot section connecting to a road in the cemetery still needs to be paved.
Juliano visited that spot on Friday to find that a construction crew had already dug up that spot, so he’s encouraged that the work has begun and could be done within a week or so.
Before the race, Juliano and a USA Track and Field representative will re-measure the course so that it’s certified.
Once they get it measured, they may find that the start and finish locations may need to be tweaked a little, he said, to preserve the 15k distance, but the shifts wouldn’t be more than 10-20 feet.