Gazettte Stockade-athon: Champs endorse course
The Gazette Stockade-athon’s reconfigured course has been met with approval by some past champions.
Without the benefit of a survey of a large sample of Stockade-athon runners, the reviews were positive, after race organizers shifted some key stretches of the 15k course to less-trafficked streets.
One of the big moves diverted the third mile and part of the fourth through Rugby Road, Wendell Avenue and Lenox Road, removing Grand Boulevard and the section of Nott Street that goes past Ellis Hospital from the route.
The other significant change was to shift the uphill for the fifth and sixth miles to Franklin Street and Vale Park, eliminating the long, straight State Street hill that had been an integral part of the course since the race was first run in 1976.
To facilitate those changes and keep the start and finish at virtually the same spots, the second mile looped around Duck Pond Drive instead of going through the finish chute and up the hill to Bradley Street.
Race director Vince Juliano said he expected some flak from people resistant to change to the historic course, but he altered it to make it more manageable for course marshals and police. Safety and smoothly conducting a 9.3-mile race on city streets is no easy feat.
Six-time men’s champion Tom Dalton ran the Stockade-athon for the first time since he won it at the age of 46 in 2004.
That year, a section of State Street, to Fehr Avenue, had already been removed, turning off State at the entrance to Vale Cemetery and climbing back into the park via Bradley. The Fehr Avenue hill had long been one of the most challenging aspects of the course.
Dalton said he prefers the latest configuration to the one that was used in 2004.
“I’m more a traditionalist, I really love the old [original] course,” he said. “But I’ve got to say, I prefer the one we just ran over the one we’ve been running the last couple years. The paved road up through the park was very, very nice. Going up Franklin Street, that was enjoyable.
“You come up Bradley, but I’m telling you, it’s not the killer that Fehr Avenue is.”
Mark Mindel, who won the Stockade-athon three of the first four years and helped design the original course in 1976, called himself a “stout traditionalist” who was strongly opposed to the course changes.
But after finishing the race — he’s the only person to have done so in all 37 runnings — he said he actually enjoyed the changes.
“The climb up through Vale was very scenic and not so abrubt! Two cheers for Vince! Now resting up for 38!” he wrote in an e-mail.
Fred Joslyn, who won the Stockade-athon in 2006 and was the runner-up in 2007 and on Sunday, to Christian Thompson, said he likes the new course, but considers it to be slower because there are more turns, in general, and the section through Vale Park is winding, as opposed to ruler-straight State Street.
The course still starts, finishes and turns around halfway through at the same spots.
“I don’t think the course is actually more difficult, but going through the park, you’ve got a lot more turns and narrow roads, and those are the kind of roads that, when you’re battling with somebody, you just decelerate into the turns and accelerate out of them,” Joslyn said. “Even though that sounds like a tiny thing to be doing in the race, you’re using energy going back and forth.
“If this was a 5k, rhythm isn’t as big of a deal. For a long-distance race, when you’re locked into that pace, you don’t want anything to disrupt it. It just hurts from a practical sense.”
“I liked it,” Dalton said. “It’s a good, solid course, it’s fair. People were saying it’s faster … you still have to get from the Stockade back up this elevation. Yeah, there’s more turns, but that’s fine.”
Joslyn applauded the race organizers for striking a balance
between accommodating elite runners and recreational runners who are just out for a fun day.
Some of the tweaks included adding a separated tent and facilities at the finish for the elite runners, and providing separate lanes for men and women at the start so the women wouldn’t have to elbow their way to a good forward position.
“That can be a hard mix,” said Joslyn, who competed in the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials this year. “Elite runners want to make money — unfortunately. But everybody else wants to come here and enjoy it and have a great time, and this does a little bit of both.
“Vince Juliano puts on one of the premier races in the country. It’s one of the few runner’s races that’s not a race that just tries to get people and then let them do their thing. The race cares about the runners, the race clearly tries to make this an enjoyable experience for everyone that’s here, and that’s what makes it awesome. I think that’s what makes it so much more fun to come and compete.”
Due to a registration error, the results of the female 15-19 age group results were incorrectly tabulated.
The top three in that age group were Kaitlyn McGarvey (1:12:11), Courtney Breiner (1:16:13) and Christina Kitlinski-Ho (1:17:28).