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Meet Greg Borzilleri, owner of the Lake Placid Marathon and Half

May 31, 2019
By ANDY FLYNN - Editor (aflynn@lakeplacidnews.com) , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - The Lake Placid Marathon and Half is celebrating its 15th year on Sunday, June 9, and race director Greg Borzilleri sat down with the Lake Placid News on Thursday, May 23 to talk about how it's become a high-quality destination event for this historic Olympic village.

Borzilleri was on the shore of Mirror Lake - on the dock of his business, Mirror Lake Boat Rental - as he explained that the marathon traces its roots to Ironman Lake Placid, more specifically to Graham Fraser, Ironman USA president when the Lake Placid race began in 1999. He and Northwood School teacher Jeff Edwards thought a marathon would be a good training option for Ironman athletes. So Edwards and Brad Konkler founded the Lake Placid Marathon in 2005, operating it until the fall of 2016.

"(Edwards) decided that he was going to move to China as part of an Ironman relocation, because he was the vice president of operations for Ironman North America," Borzilleri said. "And they wanted him to move to China, so he said he didn't want to have to deal with a marathon while he was in China, so he said, 'Why don't you buy it?'"

Article Photos

Greg Borzilleri, race director for the Lake Placid Marathon and Half, poses at his business, Mirror Lake Boat Rental, on Thursday, May 23 after an interview about this year’s race, which is set for Sunday, June 9.
(News photo — Andy Flynn)

And he did. This year's race will be Borzilleri's third as owner/operator.

The Ironman connection hasn't changed. Borzilleri has been the race director for Ironman Lake Placid since 2012 and for Ironman Lake Placid 70.3 since the event was created two years ago.

"Those races pretty much define my role in the race business," he said.

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. When Borzilleri took it 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 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 on the Oval.

Other than the scenic beauty of the race course, it's that last hill up McLenathan Avenue that runners remember the most, "a slogging, steep, brutal hill," Borzilleri called it.

"And then, to make it even worse, we make another turn up on School Street to the School Street ramp, which is even worse at the finish line. The last quarter mile, you at least get to run on the track where it's flat and people are cheering. But those hills at the end are pretty tough."

Borzilleri said he gets feedback from runners about that final hill.

"We get grumbling, for sure, but there's also a sense of accomplishment."

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.

Those aid stations are operated by volunteers, many coming from local organizations, which get a donation from the race for their effort. Current groups include the Northwood School Alumni Association, Lake Placid After School Program, Shipman Youth Center, Saranac Lake Nordic, Lake Placid Central School Backpack Program, New York Ski Educational Foundation, Lake Placid High School Honor Society, Lake Placid Outing Club and Keene Central School.

In 2018, the field included 260 runners in the full marathon and 814 half-marathoners. Registration is still open for this year's race, and people have signed up from around the world, including South Africa, Australia, Ireland and more than 20 states or Canadian provinces.

"It's interesting to see that people come from all over the place to race," Borzilleri said, "and I think people love Lake Placid and they see the Lake Placid Marathon and say, 'Hey, we're going to give it a shot.'"

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 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 Lake Placid News is the marathon's official newspaper.

The event donates part of the proceeds to local nonprofits each year.

"It's always an animal charity and a person charity," Borzilleri said.

The money comes from a $2 registration surcharge, and it 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.

In addition, people can click a box online to donate to the North Elba Community Christmas Fund or March For Our Lives.

The race begins at 8 a.m., and the time limit is six hours.

Runners and walkers can learn more and sign up online at lakeplacidmarathon.com.

 
 
 

 

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