By Bera Dunau Staff Writer
---- — Cooperstown will be hosting its first ever marathon this summer.
“It just took a few years,” said Doug McCoy, events director for the Clark Sports Center.
McCoy and the Clark Sports Center are organizing the Race The Lake Marathon and Race The Lake Half Marathon. Both races will take place for the first time on June 14, and will be run largely along the shores of Otsego Lake.
“I think its a great opportunity for locals to get involved,” said Kara Arnold, a trainer at the Clark Sports Center who will be running the half marathon. “A lot of races are out of town that are big, long distances.”
“The lake kind of designed it,” said McCoy when asked about the route of the Marathon. “I just had to find a few other miles.”
The marathon’s route starts at the Clark Sports Center and goes through Cooperstown, before making its way up the west side of Otsego Lake. It then goes to Springfield, before looping back to Otsego Lake and proceeding down the east side of the lake, finishing at the Clark Sports Center.
“There’s a lot of different areas that the marathon is going to touch,” said McCoy.
Indeed, in addition to passing through the communities of Cooperstown, Middlefield, Springfield and the Town of Otsego, the route passes by such area landmarks as the Glimmerglass Opera, The Farmers’ Museum, the Fenimore Art Museum and the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
“It’s beautiful,” said McCoy, speaking on the course.”The scenery, the setting, the size of it.”
The half marathon will start at Abner Doubleday Campground, which is located just past the Glimmerglass Opera. Runners will make their way down the west side of Otsego Lake and finish, like their counterparts in the marathon, at the Clark Sports Center.
“The course is going to be really neat,” said Arnold.
Still, despite its scenic nature, McCoy said that the courses will be far from easy.
“It’s definitely a challenging course,” said McCoy. “There’s a couple climbs on it that are at least two miles.”
He said that the sheer distance covered by the two races made securing adequate staffing a vital part of making the Race The Lake Marathon and the Race The Lake Half Marathon possible.
“I wanted to make sure that we could actually staff it (the Marathon) … so the runners and the staff are safe,” said McCoy.
The race may also become a steppingstone for those interested running in another, far older, marathon.
McCoy said that James Gilmer, a member of the road running technical council for USA Track & Field, will be inspecting the route of the Race the Lake Marathon on May 3. If he certifies the course, this years race will be able to be used as a qualifier for next years Boston Marathon.
“As long as the course is exactly 26.2 (miles) and is chip timed it can be used as a qualifying course,” said McCoy.
In addition to allowing the race to serve as a qualifier for the Boston Marathon, getting the course certified will allow it to be advertised through USATF as a certified Marathon.
The race may also be noteworthy for another reason.
“As far as I know Otsego County hasn’t (had a Marathon),” said McCoy, who added that he hadn’t done the research to confirm this.
Whether this does indeed turn out to be the case, the race does appear to be generating excitement within the community.
“There’s a handful of bed and breakfasts and private houses on the lake, and they’ve called and asked if they can set up water stations,” said McCoy. “This has generated more interest that way … than any other (event) I’ve done.”
McCoy said that he would be accepting this help, as businesses and private citizens setting up water stations will free up volunteers for him to use elsewhere.
Arnold said she’s seen excitement around the event growing as well.
“Everyone’s coming and asking is this really true,” said Arnold. “It’s been spreading really quickly around the community.”
McCoy said that in this first year, he will cap the total number of runners participating in the marathon and half marathon at 200, although he does not plan to cap registration for next year’s races. So far, he said he has close to thirty people registered, but expects to have more as information about the race gets out.
“It’s my first race of this size,” said McCoy. “If I get 100 (registrants) I’ll be very happy.”
“I can totally see that,” said McCoy, when asked if he though the race would boost tourism. “It might bring people to this area who haven’t been here before.
He also said that he has been asked about lodging and accommodations by those registrants who are coming from out of the area.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of people interested in this,” said Arnold.
The marathon will start at 8:00 a.m. while the half marathon will start at 9:30 a.m. Entry fees for the marathon will be $55 before June 10, and $75 after. Entry fees for the half marathon will be $45 before June 10 and $60 after.
“We (Clark Sports Center) try to break even on races,” said McCoy, who noted that the Clark Sports Center organizes 10 to 12 races a year. “It’s not for a money raising thing, it’s actually for the community.”
He also said that they were looking for sponsors for the Race The Lake Marathon and the Race The Lake Half Marathon, both to provide prizes for top finishers and to alleviate the cost of safety equipment. While McCoy said that there has been interest, so far no sponsors have officially signed on.
Two prizes, however, have been announced. They are two pairs of New Balance sneakers, donated by the company. McCoy said he plans to raffle off one pair to a male and one pair to a female entrant.
“I can say that pretty easy,” said McCoy, when asked if this event was the largest undertaking he’s organized.
Still, don’t expect him to be among the runners come June 14.
“I will definitely be on the sidelines,” said McCoy.
Arnold, meanwhile, said that she is going to begin her outdoor training soon.
“It’s not easy to run long distances,” said Arnold. “I challenge myself with every run I do.”