Woodstock Classic sees changes through the years – Daily Freeman

Woodstock Classic sees changes through the years – Daily Freeman

Steve Schallenkamp

The 31st Woodstock Classic 15K was on Sunday, May 28. This 15-kilometer (9.33 miles) road race has been run on the country roads between Woodstock and Saugerties since 1992.

Sunset at Minnewaska State Park Preserve on Wednesday, June 21, 2023, the day of the Shawangunk Runners Summer Solstice Run. (Photo Provided)

Looking at the 1992 results and comparing them to the 2023 results, the race’s location and size are among the few things that have remained the same. In 1992, the staging area was the Zena Elementary School, now the Linemen Institute of the Northeast. The closing of the school reflects the declining school-age population in the country. In 1992, “baby boomers” were still having children. Today, baby boomers have become grandparents.

The race in 1992 had 106 finishers, and in 2023 there were 110. However, those 110 have significantly different demographics than the runners in 1992. In 1992, 21 women competed in the race, representing 19 percent of the field. In 2023, women made up 46 percent of the participants.

In 1992, 17 of the top 25 runners were under 40, 68 percent. In 2023, only five runners in the top 25 were under 40 (20 percent). These numbers reflect the aging of the running population. The average age this year was 47. In 1992, 15 people finished under one hour. In 2023 there were two. On the surface, this suggests it was a much faster race in 1992. However, when you factor in age and gender, this conclusion is misleading or simplistic.

Running today is much more diverse, with way more older runners. The negative in all these numbers is the declining number of participants aged 20 to 39. Are younger Americans becoming more sedentary than their parents’ and grandparents’ generation? Will they lead less healthy lives?

Having been a runner all my adult life, I always felt that being fit, being healthy led to a happier, more productive, more independent life. What does this all mean for young people and our society? It suggests investing in pharmaceutical companies.

Two runners from this year’s race ran in 1992, Steve Schindler and Phil Canion. In 1992, Schindler was fourth overall in 56:02, and in 2023 he was 32nd in 75:33. Canion’s time was 78:34, and his place was 83rd. In 2023 he was 62nd in 86:05.

This year’s race was run under good conditions with mild temperatures and low humidity. The ORC’s decision to start the race one hour earlier than in the past proved wise as it began to get hot during the awards ceremony.

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The fastest men in this year’s race were Tommy Struzzieri (52:56), Ryan Kleitz (57:42), and Rob Roach (61:35). The top women were Kristin Sherwood (66:32), Gabriela Olivera (67:41) and Silke Eiserbeck (68:27).

Three teenagers came in the top 10: Joseph Nuzzo (1:06:04) followed closely by Jaco Kraft (1:06:06) and Rocco Maggio (1:06:07). The top age-graded performers were Silke Eiserbeck (80.11%) and Tommy Struzzieri (77.3%). A hearty welcome back to longtime area runner Gary Longhi, who finished 19th in 1:10:21.

The Woodstock 15K was the third race in the 2023 Onteora Runners Club Grand Prix. Many club members picked up valuable Grand Prix points. The fourth race in the Grand Prix, the Bernie Stahl Mile, is fast approaching on Wednesday evening, June 28, at New Paltz High School. For more information and to register, visit

Shawangunk Ridge

The Shawangunk Ridge is magical in many ways. It stretches from High Point, N.J., to Rosendale, N.Y. The Shawangunk Ridge includes two popular running venues, the Mohonk Preserve and the Minnewaska State Park Preserve.

The ridge was created 350 million years ago. Twelve thousand years ago, at the end of the last ice age, the four sky lakes of the ridge were carved out by receding ice sheets. You can still see the glacial striations left from that era.

The Shawangunk Ridge is sandwiched between the Wallkill River and Rondout Creek in Ulster County. In the 18th century, there were three communities on the ridge: Trapps Hamlet, which today is the Mohonk Preserve, and the Mance and Goldsmith settlements near what is now Cragsmoor.

Railroad construction in the 1800s transformed the area into an economic powerhouse and tourist
destination. In 1870, the Mohonk Mountain House was built, followed by the mountain house at Sam’s Point in 1871. At Lake Minnewaska, two hotels were erected, the Cliffhouse in 1879 and the Wildemere in 1887.

It was during this era that today’s carriage trails were constructed. The carriage trails weave throughout the ridge and, to this day, provide visitors with breathtaking views. Native Americans established many footpaths. In 1963 the Smiley family, the original owners of the Mohonk Mountain House and the resort at Lake Minnewaska, formed the not-for-profit Mohonk Trust to protect the ridge from commercial overdevelopment. In 1978, the trust became Mohonk Preserve. Today, the preserve continues the Smiley family legacy of protection and land stewardship.

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In 1955, the Smiley family sold their property on the southern end of the Shawangunk Ridge to former employee Kenneth Phillips and his wife. When the resort industry declined, the couple faced financial difficulties and, in 1969, sold 7,000 acres to New York state.

The 1970s proved disastrous for the Phillips family’s ownership. In 1972 the Cliffhouse was abandoned, and it
burned down in 1978. The Wildmere closed in 1979 and burned to the ground in 1980. At one point, the Phillips family wanted to sell the property to the Marriott Corporation. Significant local opposition by groups such as Save the Mountain Minnewaska filed lawsuits stopping the sale.

In 1987, New York state bought the property and opened the Minnewaska State Park Preserve in 1993. In 1996, the Open Space Institute transferred 5,400 acres to the state and enlarged the park preserve to more than 22,000 acres.

The Shawangunk Ridge is often described as “one of the last great places on Earth.” I’m amazed every time I run on the mountain. It is like a time capsule that takes you back thousands and millions of years ago. It is a gift for area runners with its well-maintained carriage paths and age-old footpaths.

Summer Solstice Run

On Wednesday evening, June 21, the Shawangunk Runners Club held its annual Summer Solstice Run (8.6) miles at Minnewaska State Park Preserve. The race starts and finishes at the Cliffhouse picnic area overlooking beautiful Lake Minnewaska.

The course is challenging as the first 4.3 miles is an unrelenting uphill. The route winds around the lake and along the Hamilton and Castle Point carriageways. These cliffs provide stunning views of the Hudson Valley and Southern Catskill Mountains. You can see into five states on a clear day at Castle Rock.

Race day was perfect, with clear skies, low humidity, and moderate temperatures. The Mountain Laurel bloomed, and the 244 participants enjoyed a spectacular sunset. The top three men were Josh Merlis, who ran a quick 51:33. Following Merlis to the finish line were Jeremy Mbogo (52:27) and Ethan Kelly (52:59).

Michelle Merlis came in an impressive sixth overall in 54:36. Second place was captured by Pine Bush High School’s Shaylen Gossler at 1:01:11. Taking third was Troy’s Danielle Eckler in 1:03:48. Teenager Tyler Cooper came in fifth place with a 54:11 time.

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The top master runners (over 40) were Josh Merlis and Catherine Herne in 1:05:10. The youngest finishers were 14-year-old Philip Fitzpatrick (1:07:34) and 16-year-old Daisy Meier (1:14:09). The oldest competitors were 82-year-old Bill Rosenberg (1:53:54) and his partner, 75-year-old Rebecca Withers (1:53:55). Talk about aging well.

Perhaps the night’s most-impressive performance was by William Brosnahan, who used a standard wheelchair and completed the course in 2:19:07. Imagine grinding up the mountain as your wheels sink into the powdery shale surface of the trails.

Will was visibly exhausted at the finish, but what an extraordinary mental and physical accomplishment. His next race is the 15K Boilermaker in Utica. I know he’ll fly on those paved roads.

Lastly, I want to thank the Minnewaska State Park Preserve management and staff who treat this race as theirs. They always go above and beyond to help make it successful.

Marbletown Road Race

The 51st running of the Marbletown Road Race is on the Fourth of July in Stone Ridge. This 2.3-mile run is the oldest race in Ulster County. This gem of a race has retained a great hometown feel and spirit.

The race is point-to-point and runs from the Kripplebush Firehouse to the Marbletown Elementary School on Pine Bush Road. Registration is at the elementary school starting at 7:30 am. The race goes off promptly from the firehouse at 9 a.m. Be sure to give yourself time to jog/walk to the start, which is a perfect warm-up.

The race is the fifth Onteora Runners Club Grand Prix event this year. For more information, contact Larry Skalla at (845) 687-7862 or [email protected]. or Bob Johnson at (845) 489-670 or [email protected].

50th New Paltz Summer Series

From July 10 through Aug. 7, the five-week Monday night New Paltz Summer Series celebrates its 50th running. The series consists of four races and a fun run/awards night. The organizers have a few fun surprises for the 50th anniversary, but rest assured, the traditional courses at the Mohonk Preserve and Minnewaska State Park Preserve remain the same.

The series also includes children’s half-mile and one-mile races. For more information and to
register, visit

Steve Schallenkamp has been active in area running circles since 1966 as a runner, race director, volunteer and coach. He is a member of the Onteora Runners Club and president of the Shawangunk Runners Club.

  • June 25, 2023