by Jon Lindenauer
Thus far, in no particular order, these were my 5 favorite races of 2022, all of which I plan to complete again in the future. I am not affiliated with any of them in any way outside of the capacity of being a competitor. Please check them out if you get the chance (and, of course, you feel up to completing the distance).
The Lake Effect Half Marathon - Minoa, NY
I really wish I could hear the conversation which transpired when they first discussed holding a half marathon in the snowiest city in the country in the dead of winter. At any rate, I am glad they decided to go for it. For good reason, upstate New York has a lack of major races during the peak winter months. However, for anyone who happens to live in upstate New York and wants to chance it with a fun half in mid-February there is the Lake Effect Half Marathon. In the past it has traditionally been held in Syracuse (with the course showcasing the lake from its namesake), however, post-COVID the race has been held in the town of Minoa, slightly east of Syracuse. It is flat, fast and COLD. The latest running of the race included a steady downpour of sleet for the first few miles, though anyone who ran the 2022 Electric City 5 Mile might respond with "Oh there was some sleet, you say? That's cute."
The Syracuse Half Marathon - Syracuse, NY
Probably the biggest annual race in upstate New York would be The Boilermaker, but another fantastic example of a local community coming together for a race is the Syracuse Half Marathon. This year was my first time competing in the race and it definitely lived up to the hype of the fellow runners who had goaded me into doing it. This year it also served as the USATF Masters Championship for the half marathon, and so top talent from all over the country had flown in to compete. I am not yet masters age but loved seeing the energy and camaraderie of the masters athletes. Not to mention that the post-race festivities were really superb: plenty of post-race music, beer and food for the athletes. This is undoubtedly another one worth making an annual tradition.
Possibly a little-known fact is that the Boilermaker is part of a two-race series. The first is a low-key half marathon which follows gravel and bike paths out of the city along the canal on an out-and-back style course. It is a stark contrast to its companion race: it is quiet and scenic, and at one point involves coming to a complete stop going over a steel walking bridge. It is highly recommended for someone looking for a race that is less intimidating competition-wise in the town that is home to the Distance Running Hall of Fame.
The Singlecut Have a Drink on Me 5k - Clifton Park, NY
I have often said that living in upstate NY and not caring for craft beer is akin to living in Mexico and not caring for tacos or living in Italy and not caring much for pasta. The post-race festivities for this one are top notch: there is a stein-hoisting competition, live music and complementary beers - and as a frequent patron of their taproom I highly recommend their beers!
The Rock and Snow Bridge 2 Bridge Run
It is likely that if I could only run in one place ever for the rest of my life (outside of running races and getting to run on the treadmill when conditions are treacherous) I would choose the Mohonk Preserve. Their carriage trails are sprawling, well-maintained and have some of the most amazing views upstate New York has to offer. The Bridge 2 Bridge run is probably the most -riendly course the preserve has to offer (it only has one real climb, is fairly easy to navigate and ends at a lower elevation than it begins), and I can confirm the namesake is accurate, it does in fact include two bridges. If this experience is not immersive enough there is also a 50 mile ultramarathon which makes extensive use of the trailways. Having previously lived in the town of New Paltz (it is the nearest town of significant size in proximity to the preserve) I can confidently say that anyone seeking to go on a spring, summer or fall run-cation could not go wrong with New Paltz. The local trail system is incredible, between the preserve and the Rosenale rail trail (which has a gorgeous view from its trestle overlooking the water and the town) and the Walkway over the Hudson in Highland and the trail which runs directly in and out of downtown New Paltz itself, you would be hard pressed to find a general location which better highlights the splendor of running in the Hudson Valley. Speaking from experience, though, that splendor is much easier to appreciate once the run is over!
It appears I may have only run 15 races thus far this year (I think I mislabeled a time trial as a race because I did it in place of a race that was cancelled).
Races Run as of June 19
The Lake Effect Half Marathon
The Albany Irish Heritage Museum Ugly Sweat-er 10k
The Syracuse Half Marathon
Run 4 Your Life Schenectady Firefighters 5k
Electric City 5 Mile
The Erie Canal Half
The Bacon Hill Bonanza 10k
Singlecut Have a Drink on Me 5k
Rock & Snow Bridge 2 Bridge Run
Miles on the Mohawk 10 Mile
The Route 50 Mile
LifeSong Dash 5k
The Distinguished Service 8 Mile