Caution. There will be bears on the Adirondack Marathon course this fall.
For the first time in its 15-year history, the marathon will offer runners “pace bears” to help them reach their goals.
More than 1,200 runners are expected to toe the line in the half marathon, marathon and marathon relay Sunday, Sept. 25, in Schroon Lake.
The marathon and half marathon are part of the Adirondack Distance Festival. The distance festival also includes 5 and 10-kilometer road races in Chestertown Saturday, Sept. 24.
About 1,600 runner are expected for the two-day event.
Past races have attracted runners from Japan, United Kingdom, Egypt, Alaska, California, Oregon and a host of other locales.
The marathon has been recommended by Runner’s World magazine as one of “Eight Great Events to Kick Off the Fall Racing Season.” The race was also listed in the book From Fairbanks to Boston, 50 Great U.S. Marathons as one of the top 50 races in the country. Prevention Magazine listed the Schroon race as one of the best “walker-friendly” events in the country.
The marathon, 26 miles, 385 yards, will start at 9 a.m. on Main Street in Schroon Lake. The single loop course circumnavigates Schroon Lake over challenging forest roads with lakeside views until it finishes back at the Schroon Lake town beach.
There is also a two-person marathon relay that gets under way at 9 a.m.
People who wish to walk the marathon course can get started at 7 a.m. The course will remain open until 3 p.m.
The marathon “pace bears,” experienced runners who will help guide other competitors through the course at a specific pace, get their name from the marathon’s distinctive awards — carved wooden Adirondack Bears awarded to overall winners.
Only two marathons in the New England Region offer pacer services to their participants.
“Pace bear” profiles are available online at www.adirondackmarathon.org
“Pace bears” are available beginning at the 3:30 finishing goal and in 15 minute increments all the way through the 4:45 pace.
“Their experiences and interests are varied and you will be assured of many interesting conversations along the way,” said Bob Singley of the marathon committee. “There is no registration necessary. You may join your preferred bear at the start –each will be carrying a finish time sign—or along the way. If you have been too optimistic and discover you are unable to keep up with your preferred bear, you may drop down to a more relaxed bear. Or if you are tired of going alone, you are welcome to join a group at any time.”
The marathoners have company over the second half of the course as the half marathoners will toe the starting line in Adirondack at 10 a.m. to race to the finish in Schroon Lake 13.1 miles later.
Marathon weekend begins on Saturday, Sept. 25, at 9:30 a.m. with 5 and 10-kilometer runs through the streets of Chestertown.
The races begin and end at the Chester Municipal Center.
Individual racers as well as teams can register on Friday, Sept. 23, from 7 to 9 p.m. or Saturday morning from 7 to 8:30 a.m. at the municipal center.
Also participating will be about 500 volunteers, who will man aid stations along the courses and work the finish area.
Packet pick up for marathon and half marathon racers will be Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Schroon Lake Central School.
There will be a running expo at the same time as well as local craft vendors.
There will be a pasta dinner, open to runners and others, that night at 5:30 at Word of Life. Tickets are available at the expo and at the door.
The marathon course records are held by David Herr of Canaan, Vt., and Simone Stoeppler of Germany. Herr ran 2 hours, 35 minutes, 38 seconds in 2009, while Stoeppler ran 3:04:08 in 2004.
The hand cyclist record belongs to Bill Schwarz, who rolled to a 1:45:32 mark in 2008.
The half marathon records belong to Eric Blake, who ran 1:10:43 in 2004, and Annette Acuff, who was clocked in 1:23:13 in 2007.