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Its that time of year!

April 14, 2011 - John Stack

My favorite thing in the world is that I get to live in the greater Saranac Lake area. My second favorite thing is running (biking, hiking,swimming), specifically in this area. The two are intically intertwined.

When I moved up here 11 years ago, I was mostly interested in the winter sports, specifically downhill skiing. I figured I’d be able to keep in touch somewhat with the outside world, but thought I was going to the end of the earth and may actually get so bored I would pick up golf.. How wrong I was. Living in Newburgh, the only positive was access to Yankee games and minor league baseball. Up here, I have never been more busy or felt so at home. Anyway.

Its time to put away the XC skis and the snowshoes and the downhill skis. Time to put away the heavy gloves and crampons. Time to get out the mountain bikes and trail running shoes and road bikes. Get that wetsuit out of storage! This area has everything for the outdoor enthusiast.

What’s happening right now? Up in Plattsburgh, there is the second annual Plattsburgh ½ marathon that my friend Steve Peters is steering. Its doubled in size in one year and still sold out early. I’m running a ½ marathon with friends in Vermont next weekend - $16 fee day of race! What a country! The Tinman isn’t far off either. Do the whol thing or try it as a team or try the mini-tri portion. Starting first week in May Kenny of Placid Planet has the 8 mile bike time trials starting on Wednesday over on River Road. Brian from High Peaks Cyclery is again putting on mini-tris starting at Mirror Lake in a couple months or so. The summer brings the Lake Placid Marathon as well as the ½ marathon at the horse show grounds in September. Of course, the Mack Daddy of them all, the Ironman is in late July…

How about something different? Downhill Mountain Biking by Downhill Mike over on Whiteface starts up at Whiteface soon. The Flume trails next to Whiteface should be dry by the end of the month, and are great great trails. There is the Leadville 100 mountain bike qualifying race in June in conjunction with the Race up Whiteface bike race. As well as the Whiteface Mountain Uphill Footrace. Of course there are the fun runs through the summer here at the bandshell in Saranac Lake. There are also the countless canoe races, including the Willard Hamner and the 90 miler.

In my office in Newburgh, there were probably 45 people. One guy my age worked out a bit, played some basketball at the Y. Another couple people played golf. Some played volleyball and softball. I ran sometimes a couple miles at lunch and ran some 5k and 10K races. I was about as athletic as there came in that office. Then I move here. Only about 15 of us. Half a dozen are 46ers. Wilderness first responders. Backcountry skiers.Downhill Ski racers. Guys who do the 50K Loppet for fun. Run to the top of Cascade or hike Baker daily for their exercise. They hunt – black powder, rifle and bow. Deer and Turkey. Weeklong canoe trips. I was a stranger in a strange land. And that strange land was Nirvana. Heaven. Shangri La.

Here’s what it is like in Saranac Lake. About 7 or 8 years ago, I ran the Lake Placid Half marathon. I ran the race mostly with Karen Delaney. As we ran, she knew seemingly half the competitors. She would go ‘Oh, there is a girl who did Ironman. Oh that guy is an Ironman Hawaii qualifier. There’s another. There’s another. Hmmm. My friend Lisa is shooting for 50 marathons by 60. I think she is closing in. (On the race count, not the age!) My fiend Phil did the Tinman for the first time at age 57 or 58 a couple years ago and thought nothing of it. Its tough to impress anyone up here. Some of my friends say I’m crazy when I do a 10 mile run. My running peers? I think you have to claim you did the ironman with a terrible hangover with 2 flat tires on a Huffy banana bike running the course wearing Dutch wooden clogs. Then at best you may get a silent nod of acknowledgement as they continue their preparations to Unicycle the Placid Northville trail in 24 hours…and I wouldn’t have it any other way…


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