• April 24th, 2016 • Ward Pound Ridge Reservation • Cross River, NY •
30th Leatherman’s Loop
A touch of frost greeted organizers in the pre-dawn light as the full moon set in the western sky. The peace symbol was at rest, flags stilled in the morning calm. Anticipation among the handful of early organizers was in the air as the showmobile was opened up. Tables were set, the food arrived, and the sun peeked out over the hill for the 6:01am sunrise…
The arrival of the sun brought the temperature up quickly to mid-40s which would get up to 60 degrees by the end of the race. The pre-run team of Bill Bradsell, Mitch Stein, Mike Markhoff and Ken Littlefield headed out to check all was still set on the 10k course before the runners made their start. Cars filled up first the lower lot and then gradually moved over the meadow.
Runners came in from 287 towns and cities from 18 different states plus Canada and Sweden. Runners came from places as far away as Florida, Texas, Georgia, Vermont, Wisconsin, Maine, Virginia, Arizona, California, and North Carolina.
The Town of Bedford (including villages of Katonah and Bedford Hills) had the most local representation with 201 runners registered followed by Lewisboro (including villages of South Salem, Waccabuc, Goldens Bridge, and Cross River) at 139 runners. New York City, Pound Ridge, and Brooklyn rounded out the top 5 runner addresses.
After runners checked in and picked up their bibs, many donated food items at the “Help Feed The Leatherman” tent — a food drive for the Community Center of Northern Westchester’s (CCNW) food pantry. Eight years ago David Ceisler of Katonah approached us with this idea. He wrote compellingly about how the Leatherman depended on the kindness of strangers to help with his food needs. It is a natural fit with the Loop philosophy of lending a hand. At the end of the Loop, David’s car was overflowing with over 500 pounds of donations. Thank you to all the runners who pitched in.
Mike Paletta welcomed the crowd and cautioned everyone about the trail hazards and wished everyone a good race. Mike then handed off the microphone to “El Copadre” Tony Godino who introduced the ten runners present with more than 20 Loops under their belts. He also introduced his wife Judy Godino, head registrar for the Loop and Rob Cummings who is the Loop Technical Director. He also introduced “The Old Leather Man” (aka Dr. Russ Schneider of Gurnee, Illinois) who was in town to see us all again and would be available for photos after the Loop. He then introduced the King and Queen of the Loop: Tommy Nohilly and Kerry Arsenault who have 9 and 7 Loop wins, respectively and were running again.
Tony then explained the giant 100′ diameter peace sign constructed of pink Leatherman’s Loop 30th anniversary flags on the grass below the meadow. He asked runners to take a ‘piece of the peace’ and plant it in their own back yards. Peace has to start somewhere and we can set an example for others and spread the peace around.
Danny Martin, the Loop’s spiritual advisor, was back in his customary position on the ladder extolling the virtues of living in beauty with our lives and recognizing it in all things around us. Danny also had a call out to Bobby Kaps, a longtime Loop runner struggling with the fight of his life against brain cancer. His friends in the “Knucklehead Runners” group, including Jim “The Clown” Funk were on hand to run for Bobby and bring the message back to him. Danny then led the runners in the Navajo/Irish Blessing after revealing the bad news that he won’t be running this year due to recent heart surgery. But he said the good news was he will be back to run in 2017!
After everyone had been introduced, Tony remembered one last runner who he wanted to recognize and have him start the race. He called out Joe Stanley from the crowd. Joe is a special runner who has run all 29 Loops from 1987-2015, and who was on hand for his 30th consecutive Loop. Joe got up on the ladder and led a countdown (countup?) by fives: “5… 10… 15… 20… 25… 30!” to start the 30th Loop. And they were off!
A record field of over 1,300 runners started out on the Meadow towards “First Mud” just past the first trailhead. Weeks of dry weather was interrupted Friday by a torrential rain that soaked the course back to a more seasonal level of sponginess.
John Lawrence called to runners with a yodel from across the river as the masses streamed on towards the first hill. We’d see John later playing fiddle at the bottom of the Pine Forest.
The first water crossing was still relatively low, with the big rock showing prominently on the left side of the crossing alley. At some spots the water was only a foot deep. The speedsters and steeplechasers made short work of this trail feature while the rest of us took a bit longer to make it across. One lucky lady was carried over by a chivalrous fellow who presumably knew her before they forded the stream. We are not sure if he did her the same favor in the mudflats or if she carried him…
Kimberly Bridge was alive with fans cheering runners on and encouraging everyone with exhortations of support. Runners headed onto the fisherman’s trail and then up “The Pit” for a taste of what was yet to come with The Wall a bit later. At the bottom of The Pit, a Mariachi Band performed to boost the runners at the 1/3 point of the race and help with the climb. Just before the water station runners hit the “Mudflats Preview” offering another small sample of what lay beyond.
The water stop is just under the halfway point on the course — and was a welcome sight on this dry and warming day. That newfound energy would come in handy for the Mud Flats which were next up on the trail. The flats are fed by several streams that flow via pipes under the nearby roadway. They drain over 100 acres of hilly woodlands and are constantly being refreshed with more water. Even in the wintertime, they seldom are without at least a little bit of mud. Sunday was no exception. With the fresh rain from Friday, the mud flats were in prime shape to suck the shoes right off runner’s feet and cause mayhem with balance and footing.
After the mudflats runners pass through Arsenault’s Alley just after the wooden bridge. Stomp the mud off your shoes and then you are ready for the next part of the course: The Wall. This part of the trail is a 100+ vertical foot 45 degree climb up one of Westchester’s only sand dunes and certainly the largest one (it is actually an old sand quarry). At the top bagpiper John Henken was beckoning with “Scotland the Brave” and “Amazing Grace” among other pieces to draw runners up the hill. Accompanying John were his personal Loop day driver Andy Hafter along with runner but EMT for the day Michael Rodgers who took some great photos from the top of Wall.
After The Wall, the race to the finish begins in earnest on the Deer Hollow trail. The trails following the wall are wide enough to pass easily and runners with gas still in their tanks begin passing runners. It’s a bit of a up-and-down roller coaster until the first left hand intersection when it becomes all uphill for just under a mile. While the uphill is not super steep, it is a long climb. Once at the top of this hill, however, the course doesn’t go any higher and gradually rolls downhill until runners reach the river again, passing through the beautiful Pine Forest on the way down.
John Lawrence was waiting at the bottom of the Switchback with photographer Hailey Ivey who was at her second photo site after beautifully capturing runners at the first water crossing.
The river trail leads out to the birdhouse meadow. Runners can hear the cheering fans before they can see them. On this Sunday they were treated to a new Splashdown feature that runners found out about the hard way: the big step. Winter was not kind to runners and eroded a spot that is usually a gradual slope into a watery trapdoor that caught many runners unaware. Fortunately the water was there to cushion their falls. And the crowd was on hand to cheer the big splashes when they happened!
Full results are available here and below are some highlights:
Lucas Meyer of Washington DC (originally from Ridgefield) won the 30th Loop with a time of 38:08. Eion Nohilly of Goldens Bridge, NY came in 2nd at 39:21. Third place went to last year’s winner Luis Francisco with a time of 41:09. Rounding out the top 5 were Charlie Stewart of Katonah (41:27) and Victor Da Costa Mendo of Scarsdale with a time of 41:58. Arnold Rufino of Tarrytown was 6th (42:55) and Nine-time loop winner Tommy Nohilly of Goldens Bridge, NY came in 7th at 43:25.
Laura Kline of New Paltz, NY won her third Leatherman’s Loop with a time of 48:14. Lindsey Felling of Larchmont was 2nd (49:43) Cathrine Levine of Pound Ridge, NY came in 3rd (50:39). Kathryn Nohilly of Goldens Bridge, NY came in 4th at 51:06. Jennifer Harvey of New York, NY was close behind at 52:22. Natalie Staszak was 6th overall (51:53) while Chelea Ellis was 7th overall. Seven time Loop winner Kerry Arsenault of Guilford, CT came in 11th overall and first in her age group (53:12).
The oldest finisher was Ian Beck at 80 — who won his age group. The youngest finisher was 7 year old Samuel Taylor wearing the #77 bib! Youngest girl was 8 year old Olive Intinarelli wearing #88.
Loop veteran Joe Stanley completed his 30th consecutive Loop — an unbroken streak from 1987 through last Sunday. A stunning achievement! Shirley Iselin ran her 21st Loop, the most for any woman and an unbroken streak since 1996! Other notable milestones: James Reilly ran his 27th Loop. Nick Ohnell ran his 26th Loop. John Partilla ran his 24th Loop. Doug Goldblatt, Tim Debany and John Krazneiwicz each ran their 23rd Loop. Paul Muessig hit #21. Geoff Steadman and Dan Wiley each hit #20 to break into the “dirty twenty” club.
Bob Goldblatt will get credit for his 26th Loop after crashing with a knee injury within earshot of Splashdown. His fall unfortunately led to a Tuesday surgery. In order to claim that #26 we will require him to run an extra half mile in 2017 since he was that much shy of the finish line when he took his injury. Whether he runs it before the start or the at the finish next year is up to him. 😉
For a complete list of the “Muddiest Runners” check this page. Page will be updated with new inductees within a week.
We have lots of photos shared by our “Official Loop Photographers” and others on and around the course. Thank you to everyone who shared their photo memories of the day! You can become an official Loop photographer by taking lots of photos of the Loop and sending them in. If you have more than 100 photos from the Loop, we’ll make you your own album at the link below!
A detailed description of photos — by photographer and location — can be found here. Or you can click directly on our 2016 album site: http://leathermansloop.smugmug.com/2016.
Photographers Erica Leighton. Tom Casper, Ciorsdan Conran, Chris Reinke, Carol Gordon, Deborah Burman, Randie Shane, Michael Rodgers, Diane Bradsell, Rob Cummings, Chris Jaworski, Lee Willett, Rich Alter, and Patty McMahon were out snapping away. YOUR NAME CAN GO HERE AS WELL (if you send us your photos!). We have many different vantage points — the start, the mud flats, the pit, the first crossing, splashdown, the bottom of the pine forest, and others. Photo album link here.
If you have photos you would like to send us, the easiest way to get them directly to us is via this website link (http://smu.gs/1TxwrD9) where you can simply drag and drop the pictures. We have unlimited storage space at our photo site. Or you can send us links via Facebook or if you have your own albums on Flickr, Picassa, or another photo site send us the link. We appreciate all of the photos and love looking through them!
If you have any feedback, please send us a note at email@example.com. The only way we know to fix things is when we hear about things that went wrong. Don’t feel shy about feedback — that is how we make the event better. Your feedback is a gift you give to the runners next time around.
Thanks to Westchester County Parks and Ward Pound Ridge Reservation for hosting us for the 30th year. Once again we are indebted to the leadership and members of the Lewisboro Volunteer Ambulance Corps for standing by when medical help is needed during the event. We truly appreciate the dedication of the volunteers who give their time to come tend to runners each year.
Thank you all for coming out to run and to those who came to support your friends and family! We look forward to seeing many of you again at an upcoming race!
Tony, Judy, Mike, Rob and the Leatherman Harriers
The Loop is the first in the 2016 series of trail races called The Trail Mix.
Every runner in the 2016 Leatherman’s Loop is entered into the 2016 Trail Mix Series automatically.
Check these upcoming Trail Mix races (and some other favorite races of ours):
- A Mild Sprain 4.25M Trail Race (5/22) – Trail Mix Race #2
- Where the Pavement Ends 4.25M Trail Race (9/18) – Trail Mix Race #3
- Sarah Bishop Bushwhack 10k Trail Race (9/25) – Trail Mix Race #4
- Run The Farm 5M Trail Race (10/23) – Trail Mix Race #5
- Raven Rocks Run 10k Trail Race (11/13) – Trail Mix Race #6
Some more great local trail (and one road) races:
- Rock The Ridge – May 1st – Relay or One Person 50 Miler – Mohonk Preserve, New Paltz, NY
- The Running Goddess (5/22) 5k trail race at Lasdon Park in Somers, NY
- Where the Wild Things Run 5k Trail Race (5/1) Woodcock Nature Center, Ridgefield CT
- Rockwood Ramble 10k Trail Race (6/4) Rockefeller State Park Preserve, Sleepy Hollow, NY
- Church Tavern Biathlon 7mi bike/4mi road race (9/5) South Salem, NY
- Mt Kisco 5k road race (9/18) Mt. Kisco, NY
- Paine to Pain Half Marathon Trail Race (9/25) New Rochelle, NY
- After the Leaves Have Fallen Half Marathon Trail Race (11/6 estimate) Minnewaska State Park Preserve, Gardiner, NY
- For a broad curated list of trail races from Virginia through New England, check this list from Essex Running Club member Chris Jaworski here: http://sundayruns.org/races
- Last but not least – join us on our SundayRuns.org club website — we do group trail runs throughout the year Sunday mornings at 8am, Locations are available on the site calendar.
Link to see photos from 2016 (some still uploading, more to come!)