2024 Recap

• Sunday, April 28th, 2024 • Ward Pound Ridge Reservation • Cross River, NY •

Full results are available here

2024 Photos are here

Thank you Loop runners, volunteers, park staff, and supporters for coming out and making this past Sunday a great event and a great day!

The group of cobweb crew (aka early morning group) members from our Sunday Runners group left at at 7:00am for a pre-run of the trails and course to check the markings and make sure there were no (unplanned) surprises to greet runners. Longtime Loop checker Mike Markhoff left a bit earlier at 6am to do his first of two loops on the day to survey the markings to ensure that runners could follow the course. The early pre-race runners found the course had been altered since being set late the day before — they fixed the alteration thus saving the day for the Loop runners and earning the unending gratitude of the race team.

Runners returned from a wide area

Runners came in from over 280 towns and cities from 26 different states plus England. Runners registered from states as far away as Texas, Utah, Colorado, Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Maine, Georgia, Illinois, Washington, California, Florida, Michigan, New Mexico, and Tennessee.

The Town of Bedford (including villages of Katonah and Bedford Hills) had the most local representation. They were followed by Lewisboro (including villages of South Salem, Waccabuc, Goldens Bridge, and Cross River). Manhattan and Brooklyn were 3rd and 4th. Pound Ridge was 5th for runner registrations. In addition to local towns in New York and Connecticut which were well represented, northern New Jersey has always sent a contingent of runners from towns like Paramus, Ridgewood, Hoboken, Westwood, Wyckoff, Verona, and Jersey City.

Runners pick up bibs and shirts in the Showmobile on Loop morning. (photo: Rob Cummings)

Pre-Loop

Race Director Rob Cummings welcomed runners to the race at the starting line. He warned runners of the potential dangers on course such as hidden underwater hazards, roots, rocks, and of course mud.

Rob introduced the runners to the 2024 official starters of the race: the Lewisboro Volunteer Ambulance Corps. The LVAC standby crew has been a mainstay at the Loop and in the community for decades.

This past year their community contributions became very personal for Rob when he suffered a heart attack and was rushed by LVAC to Northern Westchester Hospital where he had emergency surgery at the new cardiac catheterization lab where they insert a stent into his blocked LAD artery after performing an angioplasty.

For the LVAC crew, Westchester EMS, and the ER, cardiac, and ICU teams at Northern Westchester Hospital this is “all in a days work.” But their lifesaving actions meant the world to Rob and his family and friends.

Article and photo from lewisborovac.org

Rob thanked Tony and Judy Godino, the Leatherman’s Loop founders, then passed the microphone on to Danny Martin, the Loop’s spiritual advisor.

Danny, who has been the Loop’s spiritual advisor for over 20 years, welcomed everyone back. “Follow your breath … as you breathe in beauty … and breathe out gratitude…”

He led the Navajo/Irish blessing that he has made famous in the Loop. Beauty all around us.

Click to play Audio of Danny Martin’s 2024 Loop Blessing

[Click here to see another of Danny’s works: The Earth Charter by SoundWaters]

The Field

We had many returning Loop winners including two time winner Gerry Sullivan (and dad of 2022 winner Eamonn Sullivan who was also running), first loop (1987) winner Joe Stanley who has never missed a Loop, and two time winner Will McDonough.

For the women’s race we had past winner Ann MacDonald, last year’s winner Gabrielle House, and past winner Laura Coogan.

In addition to these runners, there were another 1,300 who toed the line — or close to the line — on Sunday. Thank you all for coming out and experiencing the beauty of the park, the trails, and your fellow runners.

The Race

Runners started out on the 1/4 mile Meadow towards the first turn at the entrance to the Fox Hill trail. The spring was wet early on but there hadn’t been too much recent soaking. Compared to last year’s rain conditions before and during the loop, this was overall a relatively dry running (at least on the non-submerged parts!). Probably a 4.5-5 on a mud scale of 1 to 10. [for reference, 2023 was a 9.5]

First river crossing. Youngest runners Pen and Alex Fisher are on the right. (Photo: spectator submitted)

The first water crossing was at a lower level than normal for this time of year, below knee deep with several large rocks hidden near the exit.

Kimberly Bridge had Carol photographing runners as they exited the to the picnic grounds. Runners then headed towards “The Pit.” Our favorite Mariachi Band performed to boost the runners at the 1/3 point of the race and help with the climb.

The water stop is just under the halfway point on the course. Just after that refreshing water is the famous Mud Flats. The best way through the mud is the straight-on straight-through route. No one has ever emerged from the mud flats without getting muddy. There was even a hidden Trail Camera taking photos and videos deeper into the mudflats.

As the mudflats end, the Cope-Godino bridge comes up next (built by Dave Cope and Tony Godino over 38 years ago — still standing!) The runners pass through Arsenault’s Alley and then up The Wall. This part of the trail is a 100 vertical foot 45 degree climb up an old sand quarry. At the top, bagpiper John Henken plays Scotland the Brave, Amazing Grace, and other songs which help pull up runners with the tones of the pipes.

After The Wall comes the Deer Hollow (DH) trail. The trails along this section are wide and rolling. Then they switch to a steady one-mile net uphill trail. This DH uphill is not super steep — and it does have some flatter sections — but it is a long net climb between miles four and five. After runners pass the highest point on the Loop course they have the treat of the beautiful Pine Forest which is noted as a favorite part of the Loop by many people.

Pine forest (photo by Michael Rodgers)

The switchback at the bottom of the Pine forest trail leads to the river trail then Gary’s corner and then the kestrel meadow.

The cheers of spectators at Splashdown can be heard by runners as they approach. This year Mike Paletta was the chief cheerer drawing runners to cross the river. Rob photographed runners as they crossed and exited Splashdown. He also set up a GoPro at the water’s edge to record video of the runner crossings.

The final 200 meters over the meadow some of the toughest in the Loop, especially with newly water-cooled leg muscles. But the finish area has bagels, bananas, oranges, coffee, hot chocolate, and cold water just waiting to refuel tired runners.

Full results are available here – below are some highlights:

Alexandra Benedict crosses Splashdown on her way to winning the 2024 Leatherman’s Loop

Alexandra Benedict of Brooklyn, NY won her first Leatherman’s Loop with a time of 47:27. Margaret Coogan of Boston, MA came in a close second at 47:37. Joelle Reeves of Brooklyn, NY came in third at 49:21.  Fourth and fifth to finish were Eva Muzichenko of Scarsdale (50:03) and Gabrielle House of Wilton, CT (50:28).

Eamonn Sullivan (white shirt, bib #19) heads towards the lead spot at the start of the race.

Eamonn Sullivan of Wappingers Falls, NY came in first overall with a time of 39:46. Eamonn has won the race once before in 2022. Last year he came in second and he has several third place finishes. Tommy Ross of New York, NY (40:19) came second overall, climbing from 5th place in 2023.

Third place was Benjamin Morrow of Brooklyn, NY with a time of 41:37. Rounding out the top 5 were Peter Nicola of Amityville, NY (44:03), and Drew Accomando of Norwalk, CT with a time of 44:29.

The oldest finishers of this year’s Loop were Dan Ingegno of Shirley, NY and Shirley Iselin of Essex, CT – both at age 80. Both runners won a well-deserved pie for their age groups. Shirley is the first ever 80+ year old woman to finish the Leatherman’s Loop!

The youngest finishers were 8-year-old twins Pen and Alex Fisher of Bedford and Talia Nable (age 10) of Bedford, NY.

Loop veteran Joe Stanley completed his thirty-SIXTH consecutive Loop — an unbroken streak from the first Loop in 1987 through 2024.

Shirley Iselin ran her twenty-seventh Loop, the most for any woman — and also an unbroken streak since 1996. As noted above, she also turned 80 this past year!

Other notable milestones: James Reilly ran his 32nd Loop, John Partilla ran his 31st Loop. Tim Debany and John Krazneiwicz each ran their 29th Loops. Dan Wiley and Doug Goldblatt ran #26. Jim Kapp reached #26. Eddie “The Plumber” Donlon and Michael Markhoff each hit #23 this year. Joe Kapp and Erick Wilson hit #22 this year. Mark Stefanov, Jo Ann Hickey, and Kerry Tomson hit #21. Nobody hit the magic #20 this year – but we have four runners who can make it #20 next year!

For a complete list of the “Muddiest Runners” check this page. The page is current through 2023 and will be updated with new inductees from 2024 within a few weeks.

The Trail Mix Series

Trail Mix Series Medallion (click image to get more information)

The Leatherman’s Loop 2024 is the second race in the 2024 Trail Mix series.

Next up in the Trail Mix is Spring Run the Farm at Muscoot Farm in Katonah, NY.

All runners who completed this Leatherman’s Loop and Mudders & Grunters in March have been automatically entered into the current Trail Mix seriesRunners who finish 4 of the 7 races to complete the series are eligible for automatic Loop Lottery selection if they enter the 2025 Loop Lottery. See link for more details and links to other races in the series.

Volunteers

The race could not happen without 50+ volunteers on race day, pre-race, and post-race. Our volunteer team is always ready to help and when someone has an unexpected change of plans — there is always another person willing to step in.

Thank you to each and every one who comes out to help! We have a page dedicated to recognizing our Volunteers here (updates coming for 2024!).

Photos

We have lots of photos shared by our “Official Loop 2024 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 photos of the Loop and sending them in to us. If you have a lot of photos from the Loop, we’ll make you your own album at the link below and send you a coveted “Official Loop Photographer” long-sleeved t-shirt! Contact us at leathermansloop@gmail.com.

A description of photos — by photographer and location —  can be found here. Or you can click directly on our 2024 album site: http://leathermansloop.smugmug.com/2024.

We have many different vantage points — the start, the mud flats, the pit, the first crossing, splashdown, and others. Photo album link here.

Rob Cummings gives pre-race instructions and welcome, 9:03am Sunday, April 28, 2024 (Photo: submitted by runner (<- submit your 2024 loop photos 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 (https://leathermansloop.smugmug.com/upload/hVR8MF/2024) where you can simply drag and drop the pictures. We have unlimited storage space at our photo site for photos or short videos.

Or you can send us links via Facebook or if you have your own albums on Instagram, Flickr, Picassa, or another photo site send us the link or tag #leathermansloop and @leathermansloop. We appreciate all of the photos and love looking through them!

If you have any feedback, please send us a note at leathermansloop@gmail.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.

Lewisboro Volunteer Ambulance Corps

Members of the LVAC standby crew at the 2024 Leatherman’s Loop. (photo: Carol Gordon)

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 deeply appreciate the dedication of the volunteers who give their time to come tend to runners each year and help evacuate any injured runners.

Thanks again to Westchester County Parks and Ward Pound Ridge Reservation for hosting us for the 36th running of the Leatherman’s Loop.

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!

Peace,

Rob, Ciorsdan, and the Leatherman Harriers volunteers

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