Batten Kill Valley Runners
Batten Kill Valley Runners
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First Ever Taconic Hills Trail Race

By Laura Clark

Jack Quinn and I have a lot in common. Besides sharing a love of trail running and snowshoe racing, we are both respected leaders of our local running clubs. Reading the fine print, this means that Jack is a perennial president of the Batten Kill Valley Runners, and I am dictator of the Saratoga Stryders. So when I learned that Jack was adding a new trail race to his repertoire, I was eager to support his latest venture. Best of all, the Taconic Hills 5K & 15K was in Greenwich, NY, a mere twenty-three minutes from my front door. Imagine! I could sleep in on race day and still make it to the church on time!

This last statement can be taken quite literally as the trails are located on the grounds of Christ the King Spiritual Life Center on the edge of the Vermont border. In fact, a drive through the rural landscape past Duck Pond Farm and numerous bed and breakfasts looks more like the storybook concept Vermont than the real Vermont.

The Center's website directions were amazingly easy to follow, even for me. The true challenge lay in trying to find the location of the race, described as being on the western section of the property. By now the sun had already risen and was not yet ready to set, so I had no idea which way to point Annie. There was a lot of property out there, at least enough to support a 15K race, so I gave Annie free rein and had a nice tour of the facility before she honed in on the car responsible for marking the dirt road section.. Annie and I trailed discretely behind, pretending to be tourists in no particular hurry. Sure enough, we discovered the parking lot and drove fearfully up an 80 per cent grade. I promptly surmised that the "rolling hills" described on the race application leaned more toward Jack's "now that's a real Vermont hill." Just before I switched off Annie's ignition, she informed me that the outside air temperature was hovering close to 85 degrees.

As compulsive runners, always eager to compare ourselves against a previously set standard, we often find ourselves attending the same events year after year. Occasionally, lured by free beer, vacation plans or a running buddy we might attempt a new-to-us race. Even then, it is a simple matter to queue up at the porta pottie line and ask for advice. By the time you reach the head, you will have more than enough information to plan your race strategy.

Needless to say, this technique did not work so well at this first-ever event. The huge course map was impressive, but the red pen outline zigged and zagged, backtracked and looped so many times it was impossible to commit to memory even if I had a talent for that sort of thing. There were eighteen 15K entrants and slightly more 5Kers, which basically meant that at some time or other we would all be running out front and alone. Already, my course strategy was clear: to make it back in one piece without getting hopelessly lost.

After the usual pre-race explanations, we lined up with 5Kers on one side of the tire tracks, 15Kers on the other. Which would have worked out just fine except we were lined up musical chair style facing opposite directions! When Jack yelled “GO!” I stood in place watching fascinated as the 5K entrants jockeyed for position, forgetting that I also needed to start my journey.

Did I mention it was 85 degrees and climbing? Not too bad on the trails, but the first several miles were run on open dirt road. In a few minutes, I was transported, not to shady Vermont, but back to my previous life in the Marshall Islands where 90 degrees and 90 percent humidity was the starting point for all of our races. Fortunately, the course was extremely well marked, even for someone like me who gets lost on the same exact section of the Mt. Greylock trail race every single year. Not once did I have the painfully nagging feeling that I really needed to retrace my steps.

What surprised me the most was how few of us were toting water. Fortunately, there were numerous water stops and even one unmanned station. I think I figured out why, too. This particularly lonely spot, situated at the balloon knot end of a loop was Jack’s idea of a par course challenge. It consisted of a dainty bridge table upon which was precariously balanced a 50 gallon water cooler jug lacking either handle or spigot. Extra points would be awarded to any contestant foolhardy or desperate enough to heft the load, chug a drink and return the bottle to its upright position. Curiously, there seemed to be no takers and the jug was returned intact to its original owner, presumably for next year's event.

The final section of the course, containing the hill which even Vermonter Jack Quinn labeled as “steep” was reminiscent of the Northfield Mountain Trail Race. You go up and then you go down. The down section was on fairly wide, sometimes grassy trails with a minimum of debris. After all that climbing, it was so much fun to let loose and not have to worry about spraining an ankle!

At the end, everyone received a state fair style best-of-class frilled ribbon, signifying that we were brave enough to venture into unknown territory. Afterwards, we cooled down in the lake with family and friends. The most ambitious borrowed a loaner canoe for a leisurely tour. Next year we hope more folks will enjoy this bit of Vermont right here in New York. We might even clue you in about the course!

To discover this site visit www.christ-the-king-center.org Visitors are welcome to use the trails at no cost provided they sign in and out at the Welcome Center. The grounds are available for family reunions, weddings, etc. Scout groups do not have to pay a rental fee.

Taconic Hills 15K June 28
1 David Lawlor M 29 1:12:35
2 Greg Rems M 32 1:14:59
3 Kathleen Newton F 48 1:21:14
4 Paul Forbes M 57 1:21:56
5 Ann Glackin F 36 1:26:14
6 Tom Tift M 50 1:34:20
7 Mike Ruhm M 47 1:40:09
8 Lisa Rogers F 39 1:41:54
9 Ed Munoz M 65 1:42:09
10 Laura Clark F 61 1:45:41
11 David Nealon M 56 1:47:47
12 Mike Mcguire M 53 1:59:54
13 Kathleen Torsigni F 37 2:05:21
14 Steve Obermayer M 47 2:05:21
15 Larry Pellegi M-50 2:16:29
15 Ken Swiatek M 60 2:19:57
16 Sue Nealon F 58 DNF
17 Dan Morgan M 42 DNF
Taconic Hills 5K June 28
1 Greg Potter M 40 20:42
2 Chris Sargood M 21 22:55
3 Joseph Martin M 22 23:00
4 Lucy Gee F 21 23:27
5 Cady Kuzmich F 15 24:03:00
6 Maureen Niesz F 39 24:22:00
7 Bill Peters M 49 27:05:00
8 Jen Kuzmich F 49 27:14:00
9 Simon Drew M 42 27:28:00
10 Margaret McChesney F 44 30:41:00
11 Matt Dickson M 27 31:35:00
12 Ariel Epstein-Dickson F 27 31:35:00
13 Dana Pilson F 41 32:02:00
14 Bill Gentry M 44 32:03:00
15 Dave Wiler M 49 32:15:00
16 Judy Patrick F 52 32:51:00
17 Jeff Spencer M 29 36:36:00
5K Walk
1 Birger Vigsnes M 74 41:28:00