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Lake Placid Marathon celebrates 15 years

May 3, 2019
By ANDY FLYNN - Editor (aflynn@lakeplacidnews.com) , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - Just before Jeff Edwards launched the Lake Placid Marathon in June 2005, he expressed a wish.

"Hopefully this will be the start of a new tradition in Lake Placid."

Fifteen years later, that wish has come true, even after he and business partner Brad Konkler sold the race to Lake Placid's Greg Borzilleri in October 2016. Borzilleri is also the race director for the Ironman Lake Placid 140.6 and 70.3 triathlons in July and September, respectively.

Article Photos

Runners take part in the 2018 Lake Placid Marathon and Half Marathon.
(News photo — Lou Reuter)

"I think it's unique because for some reason the athletes who come here like the small-town feel of the race and they like the fact that they can get catered to and treated pretty well," Borzilleri said Wednesday, May 1. "I'm always trying to put my finger on what makes Lake Placid so cool and so special to many people, and I think the setting and the fact that the people here really welcome visitors."

The Lake Placid Marathon and Half began as a full (26.2 miles), half (13.1 miles) and four-person relay, but now it just offers the full and half races. Over the years, keeping the event in June seems to have been a good fit for the running community's calendar.

"I looked at the race calendars for events around New England and Canada and saw we had a perfect opportunity to fit in a new event in Lake Placid," Edwards told the News in 2005, adding that he hoped the race would serve as training for Ironman Lake Placid athletes.

Borzilleri said the race also fits the calendar for Lake Placid, which has a tourism-based economy with most of its visitors coming in the peak summer months of July and August and in the winter months for snow sports. Those slower times in the fall and spring are known as "shoulder seasons" in the tourism industry.

"It's been bigger in the past, but I think it's an economic driver," Borzilleri said. "It's scheduled for an off time of the year before the horse shows and coming off of winter, so it's good-fit event for the shoulder season."

This year's race - beginning at 8 a.m. Sunday, June 9 - will be Borzilleri's third time operating it since taking it over.

When he took over, to attract more runners, he made sure the marathon became certified by USA Track and Field as an official qualifying race for the Boston Marathon in April.

The course - described as "moderate rolling, some flat, with a few steep hills" - starts and ends at the Olympic Speedskating Oval on Main Street. From there, it takes runners past the 1932 and 1980 Olympic arenas, up the Main Street business district, around picturesque Mirror Lake, down Mill Hill to the North Elba Showgrounds, past the Lake Placid Airport and ski jumps, up and down the River Road (twice for marathoners, once for half-marathoners), and up the final hill to the middle-high school and the finish line.

There are 26 aid station opportunities along the full marathon course and 14 for the half marathon. The first four are water only and the remainder have water, sports drink, Clif products (energy gel and bars), fruit and other snacks. The time limit for the race is six hours.

"The numbers are down a little bit this year, but I think throughout the running world numbers are down," Borzilleri said.

When he took over the marathon, Borzilleri said the Lake Placid races have seen a major decline in participants, from a high of more than 2,000 between the full and half-marathons in 2010 to about 1,000 in 2016. He said he'd love to eventually get back above 2,000 runners. In 2018, the field included 260 runners in the full marathon and 814 half-marathoners.

Many runners travel to Lake Placid with their families, and with packet pickup the day before, it's a good time to offer a family race.

The Lake Placid Marathon and Half Marathon will once again offer a free Kids Dash on Saturday, June 8. Registration begins at 1 p.m., and the race starts at 2 p.m. at the Olympic Speedskating Oval. Kids of all ages are invited to show off their speed and fitness on courses of varying lengths.

The races are presented by Borzilleri's company, Mirror Lake Boat Rental, and sponsored by a number of local businesses. The event donates part of the proceeds to local nonprofits each year: an "animal charity" and a "people charity." The money comes from a $2 registration surcharge, and the money is split evenly. This year, the Joshua Fund is the animal charity organization, and the Community Supper Program in Saranac Lake is the people charity organization.

"We are grateful to have the Lake Placid Marathon and Half reach out to us to further our goals," said Marlene Martin, director of the Community Supper Program. "We have been providing free meals for 11 years."

Runners and walkers can sign up online from the Lake Placid Marathon and Half's page at www.runsignup.com.

 
 

 

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