Do you dare run the ‘Leatherman’s Loop?’

(republished from old website)
Friday, April 13, 2001 • The Record-Review
By Don Heppner

The 15th annual Leatherman’s Loop, in Ward Pound Ridge Reservation on Sunday, April 22, 2001 at 9 a.m., is guaranteed to separate the intrepid from the not-so-intrepid.  The 10 kilometer race takes runners through streams, up and down steep slopes, over deer trails and across fields.

“It all started when I and three friends would meet every Wednesday morning in the Pound Ridge Reservation,” race organizer Tony Godino said.  “Our goal at that time was to run and get familiar with all the trails, including the deer trails, in the reservation.”

Over the course of a year or so the group found sections of the park they thought would be ideal for a challenging cross-country race.  “One of the friends I was running with, David Cope of Ridgefield, raced cross country for Lehigh University so he know a lot more about it than I did,” Mr. Godino said.

The friends put together a course that covered a distance of about 10 kilometers, or 6.2 miles, promoted it modestly and drew about 92 runners.  Over the years the event has grown so that it attracted more than 700 runners in 2000.

It is named after the Leatherman of local fame, an elderly man who rarely spoke but traveled a wide area working for his food, periodically bedding down by night in the reservation.  “I’m intrigued with his story, and even though he didn’t use words, he had a lot to say.  I’d like to keep his legend up front,” Mr. Godino said.

This year the organizers hope to have fliers about the Leatherman’s life to hand out to all runners.

The race is put on with the cooperation of Westchester County, which issues a permit that allows the racers to use the county park.  “The county is not involved as race promoters in any way,” Mr. Godino said.  “They allow us to use the park to run the race, and that is the extent of the county’s involvement.”

Last year’s proceeds went to Mianus Gorge Preserve Educational Fund.  This year Mr. Godino hopes to donate proceeds to a community farm called Cascade Farm, which is located in Patterson.  “My wife and I are both involved with healthy food and organic food, and these guys have started a 200 acre farm,” Mr. Godino said.  “The way this community farm works is you buy shares and get a proportional amount of whatever crops come in.  We will donate money for a full share, and that food is earmarked for needy families in the Brewster-Patterson area.  The farm is an unusual concept, but my wife and I believe in it, so we want to support the farm.”

Once a week someone from an agency or a local family can go to the farm and pick up a basket or two of food.  “We just have to coordinate with the two farmers to make sure the idea is a workable way to get the food into needy people’s hands,” Mr. Godino said.

As of Tuesday, April 10, about 300 daring souls had pre-registered for the race.  “We expect to get 300 or so people who will register on race day,” Mr. Godino said.  “We don’t advertise.  We are in race calendars in some of the running magazines.  This has grown strictly by word of mouth.

“We also don’t accept corporate sponsorship.  We’ve kept the race free of any of the corporations and commercialism which is the most unusual thing about the race.  It is a low key event.  But we do have t-shirts with a drawing of a scene in the park or something related to the Leatherman’s life in some way,” he said.

Drew Marchiano, former Pound Ridge police chief and now chief of police in Lewisboro, is the official starter this year, as he was in 2000.  “I ran in four or five of the races,” Chief Marchiano said.  “Tony Godino is an old friend and it’s a great morning.  I will do anything to support the race.  It’s the hardest hour you’ll spend around here.”

Pound Ridge Town Board member John Bria can attest to Chief Machiano’s appraisal of the hour or so spent running the loop.  Mr. Bria is a veteran of marathons and looks forward to running in the Leatherman’s Loop.  “It is good training for the Adirondack Marathon and, more important, it is good training for the election in November,” Mr. Bria quipped.  “Leatherman’s has similarities to a political race.  One has to navigate some difficult waters and there is a lot of mud.”

Mr. Bria said he actually enjoys the travails put upon the runner during the race.  “It is the most fun event,” he said.  “You are running off the road and it is a big field that goes through streams and mud, and you can’t believe you are taking your good running shoes through the mud.  There is a great stream crossing about two tenths of a mile from the finish.”

Mr. Bria, an artist, said that hs is his most creative when he is running.  “I don’t listen to anything but my heart beating and my breath, and I enjoy looking around,” he said.  “I get a lot of work done.”