POUGHKEEPSIE—Nearly 1500 runners are expected to converge on Dutchess County on Saturday, June 13th for the first annual Walkway Marathon race series, which is being presented in partnership with Dutchess County Government, and will feature a marathon, half-marathon and the already established Treetops to Rooftops 5K event.
Representatives from the Walkway Over the Hudson organization, Dutchess County Government, Marist College and several other partnering organizations unveiled plans for the new premier running event on Tuesday, during a press conference held at Walkway State Park’s eastern entrance. The event, which will serve as one of the Walkway organization’s primary fundraisers for 2015, will feature marathon and half-marathon routes that begin at Marist College, include a significant stretch of the William R. Steinhaus Dutchess Rail Trail in Dutchess County, cross over the Walkway Over the Hudson , with a turnaround on the Hudson Valley Rail Trail in Ulster County.
“The Walkway Marathon represents an exciting new regional running attraction that highlights and utilizes some of the Hudson Valley’s greatest recreational assets—our remarkable new rail trail network and Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park. In particular, it showcases the recently-completed Dutchess Rail Trail and we are pleased with the commitment and cooperation from County Executive Marc Molinaro and Dutchess County Government in bringing this race to fruition,” said Walkway Executive Director Elizabeth Waldstein-Hart. “We are fortunate to be working with many other committed partners as well—such as Marist College, New York State Parks, Ulster County and the Town of Lloyd, Dutchess Tourism, Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club, the City and Town of Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce and several others—in making the dream of a Walkway Marathon become a reality.”
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro said, “We are absolutely thrilled to be working in partnership with the Walkway Over the Hudson to bring this race series to Dutchess County and the Hudson Valley region. With spectacular venues like the William R. Steinhaus Dutchess Rail Trail and the Walkway Over the Hudson as well as Marist College and the Hudson Valley Rail Trail, this is certain to become a ‘must run’ event for marathon enthusiasts from all over. We have a full spectrum of community partners committed to making this a destination event for our region that will increase exposure, tourism interest as well as provide another important health and recreational event opportunity.”
“We are excited to partner with the Walkway Over the Hudson for what I am sure will become one the premier events in the Hudson River Valley. The Walkway Marathon gives us the opportunity to showcase our beautiful campus to runners, visitors and guests throughout the region. The course presents a unique opportunity for runners to start and finish the marathon from one of the most scenic stretches of the Hudson River,” said Tim Murray, Athletic Director at Marist College.
The Walkway Marathon and Half-Marathon races will build upon the well-established Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club Treetops to Rooftops 5K race that has been attracting hundreds of area runners to Walkway State Park annually for the last four years.
Keith Axelrod, President of Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club (MHRRC), said, “During last year’s Treetops to Rooftops 5k race, Race Director and MHRRC Board Member Sue O’Neil suggested adding a Marathon and Half Marathon. I immediately realized it would be a great idea to utilize the Walkway and the Rail Trails as well as Marist College to make it a great regional running event. Our members have been asking to bring back a full marathon and this is the perfect opportunity to do so. We are excited to help coordinate the three race event.”
Runners interested in registering for any of the Walkway Marathon races scheduled for Saturday, June 13th can do so by visiting the Walkway Marathon website at WalkwayMarathon.org. Registration will officially open on Tuesday, December 2, 2014.
Roger Robinson, a longtime columnist with Running Times Magazine, embraced the idea of the Walkway Marathon, adding that the event will help solidify the long-term alliance between running and linear parks. “Runners back in the 1960s were the first in the world to used disused railroads and old canal tow-paths for recreational exercise. The much bigger sport today continues to be active in the development of linear parks as safe and scenic places to run. With miles of trail, and the unique asset of the Walkway Over the Hudson, this race will be a leader in the ongoing alliance between running and the environment,” Dr. Robinson said.
Organizers also plan to pursue “green certification” for the race from Athletes for a Fit Planet, making it one of the first green Marathons in New York State. Sustainable practices, such as shuttling runners using Dutchess County Government’s public transit system’s hybrid buses, and race bibs and other elements made from recycled materials will be followed wherever possible.
Walkway thanked lead race sponsors Royal Carting and Health Quest during the press conference for their pledges of support for the new recreational venture. Additional sponsorships are available and interested parties can contact Walkway Development Manager Ellen Henneberry at (845) 454-9649.