Marathon Man: Joel Friedman

With less than a month to go before the 16th Adirondack Marathon, Schroon Laker sat down with Joel Friedman, the race director, to discover what's new for 2012 for the weekend long event, which also includes the 5K and 10K  Races in Chestertown and a 1K  Kids Fun Run in Schroon Lake.

Read on to find out what keeps Joel awake at night, an inspiring story about a Pacer Bear, the planning that goes into the event and his reaction when last year's marathon was featured in an online advertising campaign by car maker Dodge.

How many have signed up so far?

It's too early to tell. I'm expecting a big, last minute surge. We were just featured in Running Times as the featured September race, so that's just getting out now. (Registration closes on Saturday, September 22)

From what countries are runners coming from this year?

We have Israel, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom
Any Aussies?
Not this year. You gotta start working on that! (laughs)

Do any of the runners have an interesting back story?

One of our Pacers Bears (runners who run alongside a runner to help them keep their pace). Julia Khvasehko, from New York City, had brain cancer and surgery. It took her two years to re-learn how to walk. She's run 40 or 50 marathons. Her message to people is to get out and show people how you can come back and do amazing things.

Tell me about the machine behind the scenes that organizes the marathon?

We have two levels. The executive committee and team leaders. The executive committee meets all year round and the team leaders start meeting in the Spring until race day. Our September meeting is coming up. Most of the things are done and in place and ready to go and we are just waiting for last minute tweaks and surprises.

What's new this year about the marathon?

Our 4 person relay. We are going to have four legs -- the first leg is 4.4 miles, the second leg is 8.7 miles, the third leg is 5.2 miles and the last leg is 8 miles bringing you back to town.

Is the 4 person relay becoming popular in marathons?

It is becoming more popular because you can now run a smaller segment of the race and yet be participating in a marathon.

Are the Taiko Japanese drummers back and how did they get involved in the Adirondack Marathon?

Yes the drummers are back. We learned about them from the Burlington Marathon and they are just so amazing we got 'em here and they have been here for years and years now. For our event there will be 6 or 7 drummers. They play non-stop from about 10 in the morning ‘til about 2 pm in the afternoon.

There are some runners who have run each marathon on since the beginning?

We have about 10 who do it each year. I don't know how many are coming back this year.

Besides bragging rights about winning the marathon, what else do you get?

You get a big bear, hand carved, an Adirondack bear, from a wood carver in Warrensburg.

How many volunteers will be working over the race weekend?

About 500 people. This is a community event, it's amazing how many people turn out and participate. One of the things that also helps is the support from Grand Union, who help with water and our finish line food. Coke has been a huge supporter with water on the course and power drinks. There a so many organizations and businesses in town that get involved, donating different things for the event.

People in town get involved baking brownies and cookies for the finish line, which runners love because they are not just getting this little box of a banana and a slice of pizza, you are getting real food. You feel the local touch of the event.

Tell me about the kick off events for the marathon?

We have a pasta dinner that night at the Word Of Life Inn dining room and earlier that day we have the Runner's Expo at the Schroon Lake Central school gym.

We just have a new add on event -- it's still coming together. The senior gear writer for Runner's World has asked if he can do a forum during the Expo. That should be really great.

How many vendors show up for the Expo?

The biggest vendor is the National Running Center and they provide every piece of running gear you can imagine and/or need, There are other groups including the Adirondack Sports and Fitness Magazine, who organize their own expo each summer and winter in Saratoga.

Were you surprised when the Adirondack Marathon was featured last year in an online video and contest by Dodge?

Wow. That was cool. It wasn't in our plans. All of a sudden the clue came up with the Adirondack Marathon bib and it blew us away.

What keeps you up at night? What do you worry about?

The health and safety of the runners is of critical Importance to us. It’s the single foremost concern…. making sure the ambulances are here, the road controls are in place and that everybody is participating and making sure that people don't drive down the road when there is a road closure.

Where and When. All of the details are here.

Saturday 9/22/12

5K & 10K Races in Chestertown

1K Kids Fun Run in Schroon Lake

Sunday 9/23/12

Marathon, Relay & Half Marathon in Schroon Lake