Runners of all abilities will lace up their sneakers for the inaugural Walkway Marathon, which takes place on Saturday, June 13, 2015, in the beautiful Hudson River Valley of New York State. More than 1,500 runners, walkers, and wheelchair athletes are expected to compete in one of three flat, fast, USATF-certified races – a marathon, half marathon, and 5K run – all of which traverse the Hudson River on the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park, the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge. “These races combine fantastic views of the Hudson River with a shady and nearly flat running surface,” says Walkway Executive Director Elizabeth Waldstein-Hart]. “From first-time racers to veterans hoping for a Boston Marathon qualifying time, all types of runners will enjoy this one-of-a-kind event.
On June 13, participants in all three races will converge on the riverfront campus of Marist College in Poughkeepsie, where the marathon and half marathon will begin and end. Utilizing the mid-Hudson Valley’s extensive system of rail trails, marathoners and half marathoners will head south on the paved and tree-lined William R. Steinhaus Dutchess Rail Trail, passing by picturesque lakes and forested areas. Later on, racers encounter similarly smooth and scenic running along the Hudson Valley Rail Trail, located across the river in Ulster County. Connecting these two trails is the spectacular Walkway Over the Hudson — a 19th-century railroad bridge that has been converted into the world’s longest linear park. Competitors get a literal “runner’s high” as they cross – and re-cross – the Walkway, admiring jaw-dropping views of the dramatic Hudson Highlands and Catskill Mountains from 212 feet above the ground. Runners in the 5K race follow a different route: Beginning at the Walkway’s western entrance, they head east across the 1.28-mile bridge, then travel north along Poughkeepsie’s waterfront to the finish line at Marist.
Besides the magnificent scenery and virtually flat course, the Walkway Marathon has another big draw: It is a “green” race. In fact, it is the first marathon in New York State to follow the criteria outlined in the “Pledge of Sustainability” issued by Athletes for a Fit Planet. Runners will notice – and appreciate – the event’s eco-friendly stance: All registrations are processed through the web (no paper entries allowed); electric buses will transport 5K runners to the start line; course hydration stations are equipped to refill BYO water bottles (cutting down on paper cup waste), locally sourced foods are on hand at the finish line – and your finisher’s medal is made from recycled materials. Runners are encouraged to use mass transit to get to the race; to that end, discounted round-trip tickets between Grand Central Terminal and the Poughkeepsie train station are available on Metro-North Railroad’s Hudson line.
Registration for the Walkway Marathon, Half Marathon, and Rooftops to Treetops 5K is now open. Early bird entry fees (marathon $65, half marathon $45, 5K $25) extend through March 31, 2015; beginning April 1, fees increase to $75/$55/$35, respectively. Bib pick-up is Friday, June 12 at the Dutchess County Tourism/Walkway Marathon Expo, taking place from 2-8 p.m. at the Mid-Hudson Civic Center, Market Street, Poughkeepsie.
The Walkway Marathon is organized under the auspices of the Walkway Over the Hudson, Dutchess County Government, and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. All proceeds benefit the Friends of the Walkway Over the Hudson, the 501 © 3 charitable organization dedicated to completing and enhancing the state park; runners are encouraged to solicit pledge donations to this worthy cause if they wish.