Katonah man leads the pack at Leatherman’s Loop

(republished from old website)
The Bedford Pound Ridge Record Review
Friday, April 30, 2004

“I still can be surprised by this race,” said organizer Tony Godino after 18 years of running the Leatherman’s Loop Race at the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation.  This year’s racers set a new course record, and a fourth grader came in second place for the 18-and-under category, to name just a few of the noteworthy performances.

“It was a great race,” Mr. Godino said.

The Leatherman’s Loop takes the runner through streams, up and down hills, and over rocks, mud and roots for a 6-mile course that has proven chllenging to the most intrepid runners.

Tommy Nohilly, this year’s winner and new record holder, is a 37-year-old Katonah resident who vied for a spot on the 1992 United States Steeple Chase team.

Mr. Nohilly’s time of 38:33 earned him the course record even though the time set by Dave Dunham in 1993 was 36:51.  “We awarded Tommy the record because the course is a lot harder and longer,” Mr. Godino said.

Mr. Nohilly’s running resume is impressive.  “He came in fourth in the (1992) national tryouts and missed making the team by one place,” Mr. Godino said.  “Only the top three made the team.”

Mr. Nohilly repeated his 1992 performance, coming in fourth again in 1996 at the Olympic trials.  “He is number seven on the all-time steeplechase list,” Mr. Godino said.

“A steeplechase race,” Mr Nohilly explained, “is a 3,000 meter race with four barriers and one water jump per lap,” he said.  “There are 28 barriers and seven water jumps in all.”

The barriers are 36 inches high.  The water jump is 12 feet long and three feet deep with a 36-inch barrier directly in front of the water.

“He made the run in 38:33, which is the fastest time in many years, but he was going so fast at the start he mistakenly crossed a stream about one mile too soon,” Mr. Godino said.  “Fortunately, he was called back by the fellow who was running second.”

Mr. Nohilly retraced his steps to where he mistakenly crossed the stream and got back on course.  Even with the delay and backtracking, he finished about two minutes ahead of everyone else.  “That was his first trail race,” Mr. Godino said.

Mr. Nohilly said he didn’t get a chance to check the course before the race.  “I didn’t know we were supposed to follow the flags until after I made the wrong turn,”  Mr. Nohilly said.  “I came down the hill and saw the stream and figured I had to cross it.”

After doubling back, he was in sixth or seventh place.  Mr. Nohilly said he lost 30 or 40 seconds.  “I had to work my way back up,” he said.  “My legs were wet and I had to work to get back into the lead so I lost more time.”

While this was his first trail race and his first try at the Leatherman’s Loop, he was on the national cross-country team that competed in Ireland in 1999.

“The mud in Ireland was probably almost as bad as it was in the reservation,” Mr. Nohilly said.  He added that this event was a lot tougher than any cross-country event because of the roots and rocks and streams.

Another exceptional performance was turned in by Samantha Tracy, 9, a fourth grader at Bedford Village Elementary School who finished second in the 18 and under category.  “She ran with her dad, and her dad runs the race every year,” Mr. Godino said.  “Samantha’s time was an unbelievable 1:11:08.

Samantha seemed to take her accomplishment in stride, so to speak.  “I love to run,” she said.  She said she also loves to play soccer, lacrosse and to swim.

Samantha said that her love of lacrosse and the fact that her
teacher, Paul Carcaterra, is the Fox Lane lacrosse coach might not be a coincidence.

“I love school,” she said.

She particularly enjoyed running with her dad, whom she said is the best athlete she has ever seen.  If things go the way she wants, she will be stride for stride with her father next year.  “Anybody under an hour is doing really well,” Mr. Godino said.  “For a nine year-old to do it in an hour and a little bit is fantastic.”

For the first time, the race had an entire high school team entered.  Don Downey, girls’ cross country coach for Albertus Magnus High School in Rockland County, brought 30 girls.  “He drove the bus himself,” Mr. Godino said.  “They call themselves the Lady Falcons, and they competed with their coach.  The girls covered him with mud when the race was over.

Another notable runner was Tim Parshall, who is over 50 but finished 11th out of 740 runners with a time of 44:22.  “It is unbelievable that someone in their fifties can run this course in less than 50 minutes,” Mr. Godino said.  “He happens to be our resident artist for our T-shirts.

Another accomplished runner, Dan Ingegno, 60, ran the race in 53:16 earning him 105th place.

More than 740 runners finished the course this year, quite a change from the 20 runners who ran 18 years ago.  Every year Mr. Godino picks a charity or two to receive the proceeds from the race.  This year the Trailside Museum at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation will benefit, and Mr. Godino also intends to donate money for restoration of a recently discovered burial ground in Bedford.

“We are also going to support the Volunteers of America, which is a homeless shelter at the Westchester County Airport,” Mr. Godino said.