The sun pierced the fog to shine down on 286 men and women as they prepared to race through the many trails of the Mohonk Preserve and complete the annual Pfalz Point Trail challenge.
At 9 a.m., at the Spring Farm trailhead, the runners began their journey to conquer the 10-mile course through woods, over rocky hills and across peaceful meadows, which would land them in a beautiful pavilion. The challenge is a fundraiser for the preserve, raising $24,000 this year, according to a press release from the preserve.
The race has been an annual event at the preserve for 25 years, however, it has only been ran on this course since 2002, according to 15-year-volunteer, Jason Taylor. It began as a race for local runners and was turned to a fundraiser for the preserve right around the turn of the century.
“The Pfalz Point Trail Challenge continues to attract a growing number of athletes who are eager to run on Mohonk Preserve’s beautiful trails,” Eda Sanchez-Persampieri, assistant director of events for the preserve, said.
Runners came from all over to participate. According to Sanchez-Persampieri, New Paltz brought the most runners followed by New York City. However, some did come from as far as Guaynabo, Puerto Rico and New Port Post, California.
Although 356 people did register for the race, 196 males and 160 females, there were some who could not make it. As Taylor said, “Sometimes life just gets in the way.”
Since this is a race there were, of course, winners. The runners were split up by age and gender leaving many chances to earn a prize.
The first place woman and man won a prize package including a freshly baked pie and the pie alone was awarded to the first male and female to cross the finish line from each of the seven age groups. Second prize was a year’s membership to the preserve and third was two one-day passes.
The overall male winner was Alexander Arslan, of New Hyde Park, who finished with a time of 1:02:38. Catherine Herne of New Paltz was the overall female winner, finishing with a time of 1:14:33.
Arslan, who has been running competitively for three years, said this was one of the hardest races he’s ever ran because of the steep rocky terrain. This was his second race in New Paltz, he previously ran around Lake Minnewaska.
When asked in an interview with preserve volunteers if he had time to enjoy the view, he said he was “suffering way too much.”
He said he runs an average of 120 to 130 miles per week and will definitely return to New Paltz to visit.
Herne, the female winner, does not run trail races often but said she felt this one was beautiful. She only recently began running competitively, running about 60 miles per week and heard of this race through the Shawangunk Runners Group.
“It was a tough race,” Herne said. “I had to watch my feet a lot.”
The race was primarily funded by sponsors such as Central Hudson, Hudson Valley Federal Credit Union, Stop & Shop, Eastern Mountain Sports and many more.
Runners and spectators enjoyed a chili lunch after the race.