Plenty of people run this course for the atmosphere. One woman likes the kaleidoscope of fall colors along Alplaus Avenue. Her friend enjoys spotting the Mohawk River to his right as he runs down the hill. Another woman likes the people raking their lawns who wave at her as she jogs by.
“It’s a nice small-town atmosphere,” said Matt Fryer, 32. “The views are beautiful.”
The Alplaus Run-Around is quintessential Alplaus. It’s quaint, not much publicized, its runners are part of a tight-knit community and its course is picturesque.
About 50 people participate in the 1-mile Fun Run and 5K race each fall, which begins and ends at the Alplaus Fire House. It never really boasts more runners than that, and it was never really meant to. On Saturday, fewer than 50 people showed up.
The Run-Around began 32 years ago as a fun activity for families and kids in Alplaus, a tiny hamlet in Glenville that boasts about 300 residents. And it’s stayed that way.
A few people hear about it through friends or colleagues, and a few signs are posted for it along Maple and Alplaus avenues. A race registration form on the Alplaus website is about two years old.
Gray Watkins, 61, ran the race every year for the first 20 it was held. The miles he logged on the roads and basketball games did his knees in, and surgery confined his exercise to a bicycle. So now he keeps time.
“It was always held right around Election Day,” he said. “So it was called the Run-Around. Plus, you run around town, so it’s a little bit of a double entendre.”
He likes the race for the camaraderie.
“It’s a chance for all the community members to see one another or help out as volunteers,” said Watkins.
It wouldn’t be a community event without Andy Gilpin, president of the Alplaus Residents’ Association, running around and chatting with participants.
He was congratulating the first few kids who crossed the finish line of the Fun Run at just under eight minutes. The Fun Run course goes down Bruce Drive and back.
“It used to be the trolley line from Schenectady across the river,” said Gilpin. “You can still see the cement abutments there.”
The Schenectady Railroad Co. built an electric trolley line that ran from Schenectady to Saratoga in the 1800s, which carried workers to their jobs at General Electric and back. It was eventually paved over and became Bruce Drive. On Saturday, kids as young as 5 pounded the pavement in sneakers and big grins.
Claire Curry was one of the outsiders, an 83-year-old from Boston, who was excited to walk the 5K course with her daughters.
“I planned to walk it if the weather was nice, and it is,” she said with a shrug.
Her daughter, Colleen Greeley of Clifton Park, joked that they let strangers sign up for the race.
“They let us out-of-towners in,” she laughed. “We were actually the first to pre-register, too.”
She heard about the 5K from Fryer, the man who loves the views along the course. He’s a colleague whose former teacher lives in Alplaus.
The teacher told Fryer about five years ago that her hometown holds a small community race each year right near her house.
“’It’s called the Alplaus Run-Around,’ she said. I said, “What’s Alplaus?’” he recalled. He is from Clifton Park.
She told Fryer how to get there and he’s shown up for the last five years. He runs the course to get in shape for other fall races.
“Since it’s such a small atmosphere, I can usually place, too,” he said.