Welcome to the Onteora Runners Club. We’re located in the Mid-Hudson Valley of New York State, in the shadow of the Catskill Mountains and currently number around 400 members. Our mission is to promote running and fitness for runners of all ages.
We offer individual and family memberships. We hold numerous fun runs including the ever popular winter breakfast runs and weekday summer trail runs. The club sponsors a group of races at varied distances, from a mile race on the track, to a 10.5 mile race on singletrack trails, and a yearly competitive Grand Prix series followed by a fantastic awards banquet. As an added membership benefit, many area races give ORC members discounts on entry fees!
Our monthly newsletter includes running articles, a comprehensive area calendar, area race results, and race applications. Club members have a strong showing at local races and have also participated in marathons, multisport events, trail ultras, and relays. But most importantly, the ORC members are a great bunch of people from all walks of life enjoying the camaraderie and good health that our sport provides.
11 Reasons to Join the Onteora Runners Club!
1. Fun! The motto of the Onteora Runners Club has always been “run for fun.” People of all ages and abilities can join and have a great time.
2. Unique Newsletter. Your club membership earns you a subscription to The Onteora Runner, our entertaining newsletter. It’s chock full of race results, news about club members and events, and our beloved editor’s unique commentary.
3. Best Local Race Calendar. Each issue of our newsletter includes the area’s most complete calendar of regional running races. You’ll be amazed at how much is going on!
4. Race Applications. Our newsletter also includes copies of the official entry forms for all of the most popular races in the area.
5. Discounts on Entry Fees. Many local races offer a special reduced entry fee for club members. If you run enough races, you can earn back your club membership dues!
6. Training Runs. Club members join together for casual training runs year-round, including popular Saturday breakfast runs all winter long.
7. Trail Runs. If you like to get off the asphalt and into the woods, try our casual weeknight trail rambles in the spring, summer and fall–and snowshoe runs in the winter.
8. Onteora Grand Prix. Club members who run a selection of area races each year are eligible to earn points–and prizes–in our Grand Prix competition.
9. Club Banquet and Awards Ceremony. Each March, you’ll be invited to our annual banquet, which features delicious food and drink, tons of fun, and the award presentations to Onteora Grand Prix winners.
10. Even more Fun! The easiest way to stay in shape and become a better runner is to have fun with your running. Joining our club is a great way to start!
11. Great People. Young and old, beginners to experienced, sprinters to ultra runners. Click HERE to download a membership form.
The History of the Onteora Runners Club
OUT AND BACK—Stories About the Onteora Runners‘ Club, Or Stories That Should be Shared Over A Beer By Barry Hopkins (1946 – 2007)
With comments from Bernie Stahl, Editor of the ORC Newsletter back when this was written (Reprinted from ORC Newsletters Originally Appearing in 2000 and 2002)(Bernie Stahl‘s Note: Barry Hopkins is probably the founder of the Onteora Runners‘ Club way back in the early 70‘s. I asked him several times over the years to write a―history‖ of the Club; no response. But when our very persuasive President (Debbie Briggs) asked him, he has started doing so. So much for influence vs. good looks! Barry was probably the one runner in Onteora High‘s history to achieve to the utmost and beyond. In his four years of cross country he qualified for the State Championship Meet all four years—something no other Onteora runner has ever done. He has been a runner since he was 12 and has continued running ever since through thick and thin. He is a renowned artist, art teacher, and outdoor education consultant. But let‘s hear from Barry…) Who among us can imagine years on end of raceless weekends? Perish the thought! But for those of us who are old enough to have begun running prior to 1970, this was the reality of living in the Catskills and the Hudson Valley.
Unless you were a ―harrier‖ competing for a high school or college (boys-only teams) there were very few races open to the public. Between New York City and Albany there were only two races, five and ten miles held in Pougbkeepsie on Thanksgiving Day. They were directed by Don Kiernan and were sponsored by the YMCA. In looking back I now know that these races sowed the seed that would germinate in time and ultimately lead to the creation of the Onteora Runners‘ Club. The starting line featured runners attired in singlets of their respective clubs: Millrose AA, St. Anthony‘s Boys‘ Club, Pioneer Club, and the New York Athletic Club. There were so few races that runners were forced to travel great distances to run. It was not unusual for the Poughkeepsie Thanksgiving Day race to have runners from as far away as Syracuse, Rochester, and Ithaca. Throughout the mid-60‘s we would create an all-star team of high school runners from Ulster County to compete in these races, coming away with the team title in 1965 for the five-mile race.As young high school runners we were somewhat in awe of racing men in their 30‘s, 40‘s and 50‘s. Races were much smaller then. 50 finishers was a large field; so we were literally able to rub elbows with Ted Corbett, Mike O‘Hara, John Kelly (The Elder) or other men we thought to be legends. Mike ran for St. Anthony‘s and could often be found running the roads near North Lake, which was near his summer home in Haines Falls. We occasionally trotted along with him.
These experiences were memorable and, most importantly, created a lasting impression that running could forever be a part of my life. This led to the creation of ―The Glenford Striders‖ in 1964. The club was made up of Onteora High track team members who lived in the small town of Glenford on the southern face of Ohayo Mountain. We all ran; most everyone in town did, often pursued by the Ashokan Reservoir police! We created an uproar on the day we showed up at high school track practice with our black shirts on which a large flying foot and our name were silk-screened in white. The rest of the team wanted little to do with us! Bernie Stahl was somewhat caught in the middle of the uproar—he coached the track team plus he ran the school store where we ordered the shirts!
The Striders ran throughout New York State and New England until 1969. Our first race was at Stafford Springs, CT, where my brother Howard (his first race after quitting smoking two weeks before) finished 22nd and I came in 7th,
Following my graduation front the State University at Oneonta in 1969, 1 began teaching In Catskill and created a Junior High Cross Country and Track Team; many of these runners were among the founding members of the Onteon Runners‘ Club. During this time I also coached the Columbia-Greene Community College XC team. Through the College birth was given to several area races, the most notable being the Platte Clove Mt Run. For those who have run this I should have said ―notorious.‖ Then were also many 5K and 10K races at Olana at that time. One of these was mistakenly scheduled for Mothers‘ Day; only six men showed up to run–myself and the Shrader family—I was divorced shortly after that! (Just joking) Bill Shrader, whose family members‘ resumes of running accomplishments stand out among running families in America, was president of the Adirondack AAU (the governing body for running at the time). I was vicepresident under Bill and learned the ins and outs of race directing from him. We would eventually work together to create the Hudson-Mohawk RRC, whose purpose was to foster running in the Mohawk and Hudson Valleys. And as you shall see running did come to our region.
Next installment: More on Bill, John Hurley, and a very important phone call.
OUT AND BACK-Stories About the Onteora Runners‘ Club — Part Two
by Barry Hopkins
It is Thursday afternoon, the day following the last Cross Country Series race at Williams Lake. When I first conceived the idea for this column I wanted in my own way to give thanks to all the people who worked the courses, held the stopwatches, stood in the freezing rain to cheer us on, washed our sweaty running clothes or ate dinner alone so we could train.
Last night‘s run, however, for me was one of those runs that did not have an enjoyable moment in it. We have all had them and luckily they are the exception rather than the norm. Hopefully, in time, I will forgive Joe Keller and the people who created the trails.
But afterwards the back doors of vans and car trunks were thrown open and coolers containing much needed refreshments could be seen throughout the parking lot. Soon runners could be heard weighing and exchanging their war stories about the race just completed, the Escarpment Trail runs or some long-forgotten moment. The agony of half an hour ago was soon lost in the reverie of companionship. This was the atmosphere 1 found myself competing in prior to the formation of the Onteora Runners‘ Club. The Glenford Striders ceased to exist following 1969 and with my college cross country coach John Hurley found myself running in the orange, black and white colors of the North Medford Club out of Boston. New England at that time was the hot bed of running in America. Every little town had a race; one weekend we would be in Ludlow, the next Chicopee and then Springfield. The North Medford Club could be
found at the trunks of their cars as soon as the races were over, sharing much like we did last night at Williams Lake. It was the laid-back attitude coupled with an unspoken thankfulness that was to be the ultimate model upon which the Onteora RC was patterned. Our motto, ―Run For Fun,‖ came out of those experiences.
I was very fortunate to have dedicated coaches whose priority was to have their runners truly enjoy running. I am indebted to Bernie Stahl at Onteora High School, Tom Fickus at the Junior High School, Dick Glazier at Ulster Community College and John Hurley at S.U.C. Oneonta. We never create in a vacuum and these men are largely responsible for what we now call the Onteora Runners‘ Club. Another very significant figure in the running community was a person most everyone considered a sage—Bill Shrader. He was largely responsible for the well being of running in the Capital Region. In the days of the Amateur Athletic Union he was president of the Adirondack Association of the A.A.U. I served as his vice-president and learned a great deal from him about organizing races. For those of us who visited him at work there was a totally different view of Bill‘s organizational skills. His small office was so crammed with boxes, files and papers that he only had room for his chair, which he pushed back
into the room at the end of the day. He literally sat in the hall! Anyway, his love was running and his family. All the Shraders ran cross country and as a family running for Middleburgh High School won the NYS Cross Country Championship meet. Up until he passed away in his 70‘s, Bill could be seen training and racing.
Dick Vincent recalls the time Bill was on the Escarpment Trail and was near the end of the pack coming op over Blackhead Mountain–actually near last. To appreciate this story you must know that Bill always looked older–sometimes much older. As he was going by the water stop one of the race assistants asked him if he was the last one. Bill‘s reply was, ―No, there‘s some old guy behind me.‖ Of course, he was always young at heart and gave so much to his fellow runners.
This giving led to the creation of the Hudson-Mohawk RRC, whose sole purpose was to bring runners together from all of the teams in the region for the sake of running. At that time you could not run as an HMRRC member. Many of the races in the Albany region were directed by Bill and his sidekick Burke Adams. As I am writing this I can see Bill; I am smiling and thinking he really deserves better than me writing about him–he deserves a biography.
For those of you who have read The HOBBIT by JRR Tolkein you know of the fateful moment when Gandolf showed up at Bilbo Boggins‘ door. You must remember the symbol he scratched secretly on the Hobbitts‘ door which loosely interpreted meant―Burglar for Hire.‖ You also know that Hobbitts are distrustful of adventures. This part of the story from THE HOBBIT is almost a mirror image of what happened in 1973 when the fateful call was made which created the Onteora Runners‘ Club. You have to imagine Bernie as Bilbo and Barry as Gandolf.―Hello, Mr. Stahl, this is Barry. Would you be willing to start a runners‘ club with me?‖
Fortunately, his reply was ―Yes.‖ If he had said, ―No,‖ I would still be running for the North Medford Club and you would not have someone to do all your typing (Newsletter) nor a reason to have an occasional beer with your friends.
In the next column the results of the Club‘s first race– and the story behind the comment,
―Is it still Sunday?‖ and stories from our competing in the National AAU. XC
Championship in Annapolis. Maryland. (Bernie Stahl‘s Comments: Thanks, Barry. Runners who never knew Bill Shrader are unfortunate. The stories about him are legend. Bill was frugal, to say the least. He drove cars even older than mine. I remember the one time I ran the Escarpment, Bill showed up
at the starting line with two large Pepsi bottles filled with water and tied around his stomach with NECKTIES! No fancy equipment for him. He had many children and almost all of them were NYS Champions in cross country. His very down-to-earth manner and appearance disguised the fact that he was a graduate of Yale University and a much decorated hero in World War II. Thanks for bringing so many things back to mind, Barry.)OUT AND BACK–Stories About the Onteora Runners‘ Club — Part three
By Barry Hopkins
When creating the Onteora Runners‘ Club, our primary concern in the beginning was Where are we going to find the runners? I often thought that our young people stopped running after high school because of the scarcity of opportunities to race, and to a degree this was true. Also true at this time (early 70‘s) was the fact that running was not socially acceptable in every neighborhood or to every element of our society. Runners from the mid- to the early part of the last
century were the running communities‘ ―freedom riders‖; they endured the abuses of a society that frowned upon people who dared to be different or people who reveled in the sheer joy of living.
Thirty years removed from those times I can enjoy recounting many of the experiences that occurred there, but this hasn‘t always been true. It was quite common for people who owned dogs to unleash them at the precise moment that a runner was going by their homes. The dog, urged on by its owner, would charge out through the hedges and immediately encourage many a runner into a 60-second quarter mile, often minus the seat of their shorts.
This is precisely what happened one day while running with one of Kingston‘s all-time best runners. As we approached her home, a woman standing on her porch unleashed her dog and ordered it to ―get ‗em,‖ and with that Dave sprang through the hedges, confronting the barking, snapping, frothing angry dog. One well-placed kick sent the dog yelping back up onto the porch with Dave behind it. I ran this course many times after that, and to my knowledge it was the last time that lady put her dog at risk. Another feature of running highways at that time was the proliferation of fingers (always in one position), obscenities, and occasional beer bottles tossed in my direction. Years ago, at the traffic light on Main Street in Catskill I was greeted one evening with all three of the above greetings during one of my runs. I responded in kind, and for some reason
my antagonists became even nastier. I ran on through the red light thinking it was done with; but when I crested the top of Bridge Street I was met by the four hoodlums wielding sticks. Fortunately for me a brick building was being constructed nearby; I was able to grab a few loose bricks. After I tossed these about 20 yards onto the hood of their car they finally got the message, and I was able to continue my run. (As a side note,
I wouldn‘t endorse taking on even one person while running; it is not worth the risk. The driver of the car in this case has spent nearly three decades in prison.) The ―road hazards‖ were frequent and at times dangerous. While running near my home, facing traffic, I heard a truck approaching from behind me. Just as it was about to pass me the driver swerved and the driver‘s-side mirror grazed my right ear. Fortunately for me I couldn‘t find his truck that night, or I might have shared a cell with my friend. Thus with scarcity of races and running not being overly popular in the Hudson Valley, starting the Runners‘ Club posed some challenges. The biggest challenge was simply to find and recruit runners. At the time I was coaching both the Catskill Middle School and Columbia-Greene Community College cross country teams, which were to form the
nucleus of the fledgling Runners‘ Club; of the 17 runners who competed in our first race, 13 were from Greene and Columbia Counties. The race was a two-mile time-estimation, February 1974, through the streets of Catskill. The time-estimation format was chosen so that everyone had the opportunity to finish first, while the two-mile distance was selected
because we weren‘t sure how many people could run further. If you scrutinize the results of this race, you will notice that there were no female runners. Also interesting is that there were five intersections on the race course and that we had only one traffic-control person, Art Powell. For those people who can remember that far back or are knowledgeable about automobiles, my car at the time was a 1960 grey Rambler American. What memories surrounded that car and the moments shared with my running friends… That‘s perhaps another article.
I mentioned earlier in this article that runners in this region were not long- (as we today know ―long‖) distance runners. All races were contested at mile distances, with three and five miles being the most popular distances on the road. Consequently, our training distances were shorter. This brings us to the origin of the phrase, ―Is it still Sunday?‖ Our long-time treasurer Ed Strohsahl was in Pennsylvania for a marathon—I think it was the God‘s Country Marathon. This may have been Ed‘s first marathon, and most likely one that he will always remember. Anyway, Ed negotiated the early miles without any
difficulty; but in the latter part of the race the distance and hills took their toll. Mile upon arduous mile he struggled on towards the finish line (Makes me want to sing ―To Dream the Impossible Dream‖). And his struggle finally paid off as he drew nearer and nearer to the finish. In an effort of heroic proportions Ed pushed himself over the finish line; and as the timer called out his time, Ed replied, ―Is it still Sunday?‖ In the next article I‘ll relate the story of Onteora‘s race against the Greater Boston Track
Club (National AAU XC Championship.) Also, the early anthem of the Club, ‗Sunday Morning Sunshine,‖ and the entrance of dog-sled team into the Platt Clove Mt. Run.
(Onteora Runners Have First Meet (1974)
The newly formed Onteora Runners Club held their first race yesterday in Catskill. The club consists of runners from Columbia, Green, Ulster, Albany and Orange Counties. Seventeen runners braved the 25 degree temperatures to compete in the two mile estimate your time race. Each runner had to estimate his time prior to starting the race, the winner being the one who comes closest to his estimated time. The runners from Bogardus Avenue led the way yesterday with a first and second place finish. Barry Hopkins was
three seconds off while Tommy Denniston in his first race was a mere twelve seconds off his time. The team will be competing in the Grahamsville Gallop on March 23rd Earth
Day Marathon on March 17 and the 15.6 mile Bankathon in Albany on March 31st
.Anyone interested in joining the Onteora Runners Club may do so by contacting Barry Hopkins, 2 Bogardus Avenue, Catskill.)
OUT AND BACK—Stories About the Onteora Runners‘ Club, Part Four, by Barry
Hopkins One can always tell when he is approaching a group of runners preparing for a training run or a race. Runners everywhere are bent over trying to touch their toes, jogging slowly or leaning up against a stationary object trying to stretch their hamstrings. While others arc preoccupied with strutting the latest in running wear, shoes with blinking lights, leopard skin lycra and heart monitors (Personally, I was more impressed by Bill Shrader and his soda bottles strapped to his body with old neckties) an important element missing in all of this is the ―spiritual‖ or emotional preparation for the run or race. With the loss of Mike Kelly this past year and because of the caring I have received from Dick Vincent and Jon Powell lately, I have thought about our runs together. Dick and I lived together on North Street in Catskill in the mid-70‘s. The front door always had runners passing out of it on their way to runs on Hamburg or Cauterskill
Roads. These runs included Dick, Jon, Mike, Bobby Kittel, Dave Landry, Bill Hobbs, Ken Hull, myself and many others, who wish not to be identified. Anyway, back to the ―spiritual‖ element of the warm up.
We listened to a lot of music, often Dick strumming and singing, but we became
attached to one song in particular. At the time we thought of it as ―The Club Song!!‖ The song is ―Sunday Morning Sunshine‖ by Harry Chapin. The first line: ―I came into town with a knapsack on my shoulder and a pocket full of stories that I just had to tell.‖ As I look back on us, doing perhaps the first Karaoke, I can recall the laughter, the enthusiasm, the caring we had for one another. When the song ended, usually after five or six playings, we would be out the door on a run. That was 25 years ago and yet the meaning behind those moments has not escaped me. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we have realized one of the gifts we were given as runners. We can run with the wind, dash through a montage of red, yellow andorange Autumn leaves, chase our shadows by moon-light or chat with a friend along the
way. At its best, running offers everyone the opportunity to tell their ―pocketful of stories.‖ It is almost impossible to run with someone and not learn something about him along the way; that cannot be said of most sporting endeavors. If you get the chance to listen to Harry Chapin‘s ―Sunday Morning Sunshine,‖ do so; but more importantly, listen to the stories that come out of the pockets of those around you. The motto of the Club Is ―Run for Fun.‖ This feeling was the overriding feeling of the five members who in 1976 traveled to Annapolis, Maryland to compete in the National AAU Cross Country Championship. The team was made up of Bobby Kittel, Charlie Bevier, Kenny Hull, Jon Powell, and myselt Other than seeing three young women dancing nude in a VW bus that passed us on the Thruway, the ride down was uneventful. Our rooms at the motel were next to Amby Burfoot, winner of the Boston Marathon. He happened to be leaving for a run at the same time we were, and we agreed to let him run
with us. Again, there were ―stories,‖ and we enjoyed the opportunity to share with him. The race, a 10K, was held on a gently rolling golf course. We were attired in our new brown, yellow, and orange racing singlets, which had ONTEORA sewn across the front. We may not have been the fastest on that day, but we were among the best dressed. Teams were assigned about a 4‘ x 6‘ rectangle along the starting line. We were in the second row of rectangles, with the rectangle in front of us assigned to the Greater Boston Track Cub—meaning Bill Rodgers and Alberto Salazar. The gun went off, and we were soon separated from one another. I remember the loud speaker calling out the time of the lead runner at the mile mark, 4:17! I ran 4:55 and was losing ground. It was exciting, though. We finished in front of just two teams, the Albany Track C1ub and the team representing Native Americans. The run was significant to the Club in that it stood for the fact that as a club we would compete beyond the local
runs, as a team and as individuals.
Our influence went far beyond the local area to Iowa. My brother Bruce had
returned to running and was living in Cedar Falls, Iowa. There were about a dozen runners who got together occasionally to train and traveled to races together. They eventually formed a club patterned after ours and they took the name ―Onteora West.‖ They eventually became the ―Cedar River Runners‖ and currently have about 125 members.
Far any of you who have run the Platte Clove Mountain run I need not remind you of how challenging it can be. For those of you who have not, it is one of the oldest races in the area, and I urge you to give it a try. Several years ago Jon Powell added new meaning to the word ―challenge‖ in this run. He loved to lead races, and this day was no exception. Off Jon went, opening up a 50-yard lead. As he swept by a house whose owner trained Huskies to pull dog sleds, he was immediately chased by a full team of dogs pulling a sled on wheels. Following closely behind the sled, running at full speed, was the driver. Fortunately for Jon, the driver was able to catch the dogs, and at Jon‘s expense we have had another story to ―put in our pocket.‖ The next installment will include the story of the race director who got lost running his own race, quirks related to running gear, and the Bilbo-Frodo Birthday Run. (Editor Bernie Stahl‘s Notes: Barry encourages Club members to add their own stories and remembrances to his articles. In the last installment, he included the results of the first Club run, a two-miler in Catskill. Among the finishers, way back in 1974, was a
―Rich Gromek.‖ The young-looking Rich Gromek presently in our Club told me that someone asked him if it was his father! No, it was the present-day Rich, a very active runner and volunteer. And someone asked me if the ―Bernie Stahl‖ listed was my son— No, it was the old-looking present-day Bernie Stahl! I don‘t know if anyone asked if the guy listed as ―Joe Keller‖ is the present-day Joe; It Is. Thanks, Barry. It brings back many good memories.)
OUT AND BACK—Stories About the Onteora RC, Part 5 – By Barry Hopkins
Dave was very fond of running the trails through the forest of the Ashokan Field
Campus (site of the Ashokan Reservoir Run), as many of us have been. He was so fond of running there that he created and directed a 5-mile race which included an out-andback on the aqueduct. To appreciate this story you need to know that Dave was a mathematician and therefore was a zealot when it came to details. You also need to know that a common practice in the early days of the Club was for the race director to run his own race. If the meet director couldn‘t win his own race, the first finisher became the timer for everyone else.
On the day of the race ―Meticulous Dave‖ was there early to mark the trail and set up for the run. He had arrows for everything; left turns, right turns, straight ahead, and perhaps even for potty stops.
At the start of the race Dave immediately shot into the lead and the gap between
him and us widened the further we got into the run. We all expected to see him hunched over (this is he way he ran) speeding on his way back on the out-and-back. But there was no Dave. We completed the race, each finishing one place higher than we had anticipated. Dave wasn‘t there. Eventually he showed up, having run many more miles than the rest of us. When we discovered that Dave had taken a wrong turn (on the course that he had set up and marked) we had one hell of a laugh …at his expense, of course. Another Ashokan story which had a strong message for the athletes is the story of the biathlete who thought it best to swim with his running shoes on. The ORC Biathlon was conducted at the Ashokan Field Campus for a couple of years before being moved to
East Chatham. The biathlon involved a run of about two miles through the pines followed by a 100-yard swim in the lake. The swim involved jumping off the dock, swimming to a row boat in the middle of the pond, and then swimming to the ramp which drops down from the sauna. The finish involved going up the ramp, running over the graveled beach, and then bouncing your way across the swinging bridge. I had a sizeable lead at the end of the run and in my infinite wisdom (fearing to run on the gravel) decided to swim with
my shoes on, The shoes immediately became cement blocks. My concern from this point on was to not drink half the slimy-green pond water before I finished the swim. Jon Powell flew past me in the water and my only reward for this effort was my designation as a ―wetland‖ by the U.S. Department of the Interior. For a year after that the ducks were always trying to land on me.
Now that I have started thinking about the Ashokan memories, a couple of other
ones come to mind. In 1975 Dick Vincent met me at the aerator for a training run. Dick forgot his shoes! For those who don‘t know, Dick has a string of continuous days of running, going back nearly thirty years. Shoes or no shoes, be wasn‘t about to miss the day. Carefully his tanless glow-in-the-dark white feet padded their way over the roads, dodging stones, pot holes, and animal scat. Soon we found ourselves crossing the dam; at this very moment a fierce thunder storm swept in over the reservoir, shaking the very road we were running on. It also shook Dick to the very depth of his lily-white feet. Suddenly the pace increased (perhaps the fastest he has ever run) and as I look over at him. I beheld the image of the 60‘s character whose slogan was ―Keep on Trucking.‖ His
stride was easily three yards long and he stood no more than four feet tall.
We shared a similar experience canoeing on the Kaaterkill Spring Rush course
with Bonnie Maroney and Mary Ann Perks. A thunderstorm caught us just before we got to Catskill that even Rip Van Winkle would have shuddered from. With our heads barely level with the top of the canoe we tore down the creek seeking safety from the tempest. Needless to say, there was a tempest awaiting me at home for being out in such a fierce storm ―and not calling.‖
In reading ―Why I Run‖ by Erika Abraham in the last Newsletter, in which she
recounts things she has found while running, it brought to mind another Ashokan
experience. This one related to someone found, not something found, along the way. I think it was early Spring, 1977, that I met Bernie for a run around the Ashokan Field Campus. It was a fairly cool day and when the run was over and we had talked for a few moments. I became cold and needed to find some warmth. The warmth came in the form of a young woman from the college who had just completed a weekend ―solo‖ at the Field Campus and was hitchhiking back to New Paltz. She turned out to be one of my more cherished ―finds,‖ definitely better than Erika‘s package of party balloons! The Billbo-Frodo Birthday Run, in an indirect way, came about as a result of a
graduate course sponsored by New Paltz College through the Field Campus in 1973. The course/courses were ―The Field Natural History of the Adirondacks‖ and ―Environmental Education,‖ taught by Kent Reeves and Andy Angstrom of Ashokan. The three-week course involved a week of canoeing followed by a week of backpacking. Around the campfire in the evening we would gather to hear readings from ―The Hobbit‖ by J. R. R. Tolkien. The night forest and a crackling campfire can create a world of magic that transports one to a higher level of understanding and appreciation for life. Listening to the tale of Bilbo Baggins and the 13 dwarfs that he followed to the Misty Mountains added even more to the experience. Ever so slowly the Adirondacks became Middle
Earth. Upon my return from the trip I immediately read Tolkein‘s trilogy, ―The Lord of the Rings,‖ which continues the story of the magic ring that Bilbo found beneath the mountain where the trolls dwelt and where he swapped riddles with Gullum. Tolkien‘s description of Rivendell and Lorien, where the elves lived, spoke volumes about the inexpressible beauty of nature and its impact on the heart. I was enthralled with these
works, so much so that a year later I created the Birthday Run and taught a literature course for freshmen at SUNY New Paltz, ―J. R. R. Tolklen and the Environment.‖ The race was held at Olana in mid-September and featured four runs: a half-mile children‘s run, a 3.8 mile women‘s run, a 7.6 mile men‘s race, and a 3.8 mile timeestimation run. Immediately following the runs there was a picnic complete with two birthday cakes for BiIbo and Frodo. The awards were created from old planks found along the Hudson; they were sanded and then had an image from the Trilogy fastened to them. If you won an award you had better be a weight lifter—many were oak and quite heavy. As the runners negotiated the ups and downs of Olana‘s carriage trails, they passed ―Gollum‘s Swamp,‖ ―Weahertop,‖ ―Bay End,‖ and other notable places from
Middle Earth. The theme captured the imagination of many runners and they returned year after year. They too were inspired by the story and were known to write checks for the race to: ―Strider‖ or ―Aragon‖ and signed by some character from the story. Fortunately the Catskill Savings Bank was used to me at this point and cashed the checks. Due to pressing commitments on the professional level, I persuaded Kathy Heitzman to take over the directing of the race, which she did admirably for a few years. Someday, we hope to again hear the heavy thud of dwarf hoots, the pitter patter of heavy hobbit feet, along with the barely discernible sound of elves passing beneath the pines
and hemlocks at Olana. In Elven Tongue the t-shirts from the race said ―Say Friend and Enter.‖ The elves also had a greeting which went something like this: ―A star shines upon the hour of our meeting.‖ Thanksgiving morning I ran the Turkey Trot in Hudson. Watching the runners interact with each other before running and after the race, their caring friendship and love showed that perhaps we bad learned something from the Elves. I was thankful for being a
part of this great happening. The next edition of ―Out and Back‖ will discuss unique places to run, books to read, and the running journal.*.** *
Out AND BACK Stories of The Onteora RC By Barry Hopkins – Conclusion
Last Thursday night I was running north from Catskill on Route 385 on my way
to Harrisburg Road. From my home the ―Harrisburg Loop‖ is 3.8 miles, with one hellish hill in the middle of the run which on the best of days is challenging. On this Thursday night running was difficult and resembled little more than a hobble; I dreaded the hill to come. When turning onto Hamburg Road there came a loud fluttering of wings as nearly four dozen crows took flight from the large pine trees along the side of the road. No cawing, only the sound of their wings brushing against the soft needles of the pines. It seemed like an eternity before all the black forms had risen then flew off deeper into the forest. The movement of the birds transported me to the Glenførd woods on the shore of the Ashokan Reservoir and brought to mind my brother Bruce‘s poem, ―A Gathering of
Crows,‖ In part, the poem reads; ―Gathering up of crows Circling mass of darkened shapes Enmeshed in a reverberation of caws Off the bluestone cliffs‖
I continued on my run, no longer dreading the hill to come but occupied with the
thoughts of Poe, Hawthorn, and Thoreau. The crows had infused meaning into my run, and I was a different person for the rest of the run. My thoughts flowed to other runs where the brief encounters with nature had touched my life.
In early November 1974 1 was on a five-mile run out Embough Road in Catskill
as the sun was setting. At one point in the run the road emerges from a dark cedar forest onto the top of a hill which offers an excellent view of the Catskills, from Overlook Mountain in Woodstock to Kaaterskill HIgh Peak. As I left behind the darkness created by the cedar boughs I was brought to an immediate halt by the awesome spectacle of the sunsct. The sky over the mountains was ablaze with varying hues of oranges, yellows, purples and pinks. Between the peaks strong bands of sunlight burst forth, lighting the tops of the hills in the valley. I stood for some time at the view before me and reflected on the life of my friend Wayne‘s mother who had passed away that day. Before I resumed my run I said to myself, ―Wow, a Frederick Church Sky.‖ (Frederick Church, Hudson River School artist, was known for his rendering of brilliant sunsets.) When I met Wayne at his mother‘s house the next day we hugged each other and both said at the
same moment, ―Did you see the Frederick Church Sky last night?‖ Frederick Church is also known for the home he designed and built overlooking
the Hudson River Valley. Olana has been the setting for many wonderful experiences for runners during the past 30 years. Many winters ago in the late, late hours of night or in the early, early hours of morning (about 2 a.m.) Dick Vincent invited me te go on a moonlit run at Olana. 1t was a full moon full, too, in that it seemed to fill the entire sky, There was about 3‖ of fresh powdery snow on the ground which allowed us to freely move over the trails. It was so bright out that one could easily have read a book if he bad a mind to. The snow glowed,
and upon its surface the shadows of tree trunks and limbs lay like a lacey art nouveau pattern. The only sounds were our feet touching down on the snow and this was barely audible. We were moved by the silence and the beauty.
During the evenings of the summer of ‗65, the Glenford Striders would get
together often for runs from Camp All Seasons in Mt Tremper. I worked as a counselor at the camp, knew all the trails on the property well, and ran them often. On this one night any friend Joe and I headed out on a three-mile run on the trail which dropped abruptly off from the camp, leading ultimately to the Esopus Creek. We took off across a camp field heading for this trail into the woods. (This was a true trail, so we were running flat out.) We had no sooner entered the forest than we were catapulted down the hill, into
the path of a bobcat. I don‘t remember stopping or turning, but I do remember running up Joe‘s back as we retreated back up the trail to the safety of the camp. Bobcats live in the Catskills and Hudson Valley, but they are not often seen; so even though this was startling, it was worth experiencing.
The bobcat story brings to mind one of my most unforgettable running moments.
Again it was 1974, and I was completing my Master‘s Degree at SUNY New Paltz We were wrapping up a three-week canoe trip in the Boundary Waters region located along the border of Minnesota and Canada. There are very few roads in this wilderness area, so getting in and getting out can be difficult! On our maps we found a long-abandoned railroad bed that ran near North Lake to a dirt road about 10 miles away. In the morning we sent two people back to this lake to explore this route out. Later in the day my friend Dick and I were sent back to check on their findings. We located a trapper‘s cabin near the railroad bed but not our friends. It was getting late, so we decided to head out the railroad bed ourselves. (The railroad bed resembled closely the one we run on in Hurley.) I started walking with Dick but soon realized that if we didn‘t make it out of there in a couple of hours we would be sleeping in the mosquito-infested woods. I could easily run 18 miles (at that time) in under two hours so I left Dick and headed into the unknown. About two miles up the trail a large brown animal was coming toward me. At first I thought it was a dog, so I yelled at it, hoping to get it to move off the trail and let me by. It wasn‘t a dog!! At twenty feet my eyes were riveted to the face of a mountain lion. We both stopped and with a snarl (that
raised every hair on my head) it bounded off through the balsam fir. I decided to continue the run but found myself looking over my shoulder often. On I went through the rough patches of sweet fern, witches‘ hobble, and spruce.
Twenty minutes later I encountered another large animal approaching mc on the trail. I saw that it was a black bear and foolishly decided that I was not afraid of it. So I continued to run at it and yell for it to get out of my way. It didn‘t!! I stopped, the bear stopped, and as it did two cubs came out from behind the mother. As they came between us the bear growled and tore off into the bushes with her two cubs behind her. I just stood there for the longest time reflecting on what could have happened and on my stupidity!!!
I then re-traced my tracks to North Lake. Time, though, has made these experiences cherished. As you run, take time to look at the sky, the changing seasons, the wildflowers, and see all the other wonders and beauties that you encounter along the way. They are more meaningful than PRs. (Editor Bernie Stahl‘s Note: Thanks, Barry. For you new members of the ORC, Barry
was one of the founders of our Club and is a life-long runner. He is an art teacher in Catskill, an outdoor educator and a professional artist of renown. And the more of these pieces I read, I‘m sure he could make his mark in writing, too.)
Hey ORC Youth Runners, we hope you are all getting out there to run at school and local community races whenever you can. Please contact us if you have any youth-related running events, photos, or accomplishments you want to post here.
The Onteora Runners Club would not exist without its many dedicated volunteers. Thank you for all volunteer support! For local road races support and outstanding volunteer contributions. If you would like to help with the ORC please contact Deb Domack ORCpres@gmail.com
Contact Karen Spinozzi firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about clock rental and/or availability. Also, please note that the club will pay $50 to any club member who operates the clock at a local race. We are currently seeking new clock operators. A brief training session can be scheduled at your convenience. See Clock Rental Form and Details
One of the goals of the Onteora Runner’s Club is to provide scholarship(s) to local runners towards their college tuition. Scholarships (number may vary based on availability of funds) are awarded in the amount of $700 each based on review and recommendation by the ORC Scholarship Committee. Submission form and details here.