There was a moment that really stood out to me last Sunday, right after the fifth wave went off, when I hurried back toward the registration area to help load the van with registration materials and hustle over to the finish line.
Except that I couldn’t help. Because it was all done. From my perspective, it was like magic. It just happened.
I often say that this race doesn’t happen without volunteers, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart.
Let’s take a look at the various “jobs” that we had to take care of, shall we? While my recap of the race is a look at the event from the runner’s perspective, this is what “backstage” of Paine to Pain looks like:
Updating web site (both tech and copy)
In person registration
Making wave assignments
Designing and ordering bibs
Setting up start/finish line banners
Staffing finish line medical station
Ordering tents and tables (start and finish)
Placing tents and tables
Organizing close to 200 volunteers
Data analysis to determine in August how many will show in October
Creating income statement
Writing checks and tracking invoices/payments
Finding restaurants to donate food
Getting that food to the finish
Ordering water/additional food/utensils/cups/plates for finish
Feeding people / staffing food stations
Manning three aid stations (and arranging for water for them)
EMT coverage for three aid stations
Establishing massage stations
Maintaining email list and sending out mass emails
Laying out, and then sweeping, ~800 flags
Finding/providing start line and finish line music
Obtaining insurance for every municipality and sponsor
Coordinating four police departments
Race day communications via ham radio
Finalizing results and fixing scoring errors
Are you getting the idea here, about what it is that you actually did? As I watched it all unfold, I was absolutely mesmerized. I would dump some project on someone — often a person with a full time job — and that person would just get the job done, consuming, usually, several hours of time.
All of your effort shows, and this is apparent if you take a look at the reviews. Year after year the reviews come in that you guys nailed those logistics, and this year, I think, more so than most.
Over the last three years we’ve averaged about 700 runners. They come in from 15-20 states and we often find runners now flying in to see family/friends on this particular weekend so that they can run our race. It’s what a community event is all about.
In my recap of the race I tipped my tricorn hat to the runners for having pushed through on such a humid, soupy day. But to our volunteers, I tip it twice.
After the race the reviews started to pour in. Yeah, they were good.
What can I tell you? Some folks practice hundreds of hours on a saxophone though they know they will never make money at it. Others paint canvasses knowing they will never sell them.
Me? Paine to Pain is my canvas. I’m glad that folks were able to enjoy the day. Here are a few of the comments I’ve collected about this piece of athletic performance art that you’ve been participating in. All email comments are reposted with permission, and if I find more I’ll tack them on later…
Just wanted to say thanks for having me out to P2P this year. The race was an absolute blast. Humidity crushed me in the last few miles this year, but I’ll definitely be back, I’m already psyched about trying to better my time over those hills. Congratulations to you for putting it together, I saw so many happy faces and it seemed like everybody loved the race, so a job very well done on your part. — (Steve Crnic, men’s #2 in 2017 and course record holder (2015), via email.)
Your race is FANTASTIC. We will be back next year to go after a fast time. The course is AWESOME, so well kept, the people are awesome, it’s just a fantastic positive environment. It’s one of my favorite races. LOVE the t-shirt and medal. Again, thanks for working with me to accommodate our pre-race issue around guiding. MUCH appreciated. — (Pam McGonigle, Paralympic champion and blind trail runner, via email.)
This was my 10th Half Marathon and my slowest by far…but I have fallen in love with P2P. Since I ran it on Sunday, I’ve told everyone who would listen that I will run this race every year from now on. There’s something truly special about it. I can’t stop thinking about the leaves, the smells, the challenges, the sweat, the pain…the smiles. I can’t wait to do it all over again. — (Natalia Ortega-Brown, via Facebook)
Will be back next year. This was the perfect mix of trail, endurance, speed and after race food stands. (Alkis Valentin via Facebook)
Despite the rain and humidity on Sunday, this was such a great race! So well organized, prime trail conditions, beautiful woods, and delicious food! Thank you! @painetopain (rangerricknyc via Instagram)
Simply put, my favorite race, and I have run a lot of races! Most trail races are too long for me or unable to hold a decent number of runners. Everything about this race is just right. I love the history behind it and the heart that is put into it. Such a great team and a great spirit! Who could have a bad day out there? (Seth Parrish in the comments to the Race Director’s Recap)
Thanks @painetopain for such a fun trail race! Great forest trail not far from NYC. (marcolui via Instagram)
My third consecutive Paine to Pain Trail Half is in the books (5th, counting the 2 earlier course checks)! I love this race – and the fact it’s practically run in my backyard only adds to its attraction. The wet (e.g. on again off again rain) conditions only added to the trail running atmosphere (Run Dangerously)
Two days later, I still can’t feel my legs. 💯percent worth it! #painetopain (bryn_gorberg via Instagram)
Paine to Pain is also a meaningful race for me because, like Escarpment, it exemplifies the communal spirit of trail running…Thanks to …the many other volunteers and sponsors for an awesome event! (Alan’s Adventure Reports)
Back up in New York for the 10th anniversary of the partially rainy, Paine to Pain Trail Half Marathon…Anyone that loves a mixed technical course, this one’s for YOU! (wilworksdc via Instagram)
I just want to thank you again for another wonderful experience (my 8th)! P2P is what really connected me to running and this thing just gets better every year.(Edmund Dee, via email)
Everything felt right as far as organization: the amount of parking, the starting line area, the amount of portapotties, the volunteers cheering along the way, clear signs, and a finish line festival on the New Rochelle High School track/football field. The free food was delicious, fresh, and offered to finishers and family members alike. Standard (delicious!) bagels along with good hot food from local restaurants. The medal is my favorite: it has a spinning figure of Thomas Paine! The t-shirt is moisture wicking but has that soft cotton feeling, with a fun design. I wish I could wear it all week.
At the start, they had five waves of runners and it was all done punctually, according to schedule. There was a colonial era band with drums and flutes, and for every wave a rifle/musket (?) was fired, which was very exciting. The trail description seemed accurate but I have no frame of reference to really know what “technical” means as far as trail running. I highly recommend this race! Sorry my photos are a little blurry, my phone was in a plastic baggie. (Rachael Pothula at RaceThread)
What a great day I had on Sunday; I was very happy to see you at the finish line; in fact, pretty happy to see the finish line itself! …congratulations on your tenth anniversary; I was intrigued by the race when I first heard of it, but it took me seven years to work it into my schedule (2014). Now it’s a favorite, to which I look forward every year. (Tim Guscott, via email)
Thanks to the race organizers, volunteers and local police! It was my first time running it and had a great time! I mean my time wasn’t great but I really enjoyed it and will be back next year. Great organization, great course and nice post race snacks! (Douglas Martin, via Facebook)
I wanted to thank you for another fun race. This was my second, and this time I brought my wife along! We both had a great time, and will be back again next year. And great food! (Peter Soboroff, via email)
It’s been a week or so since I ran my first trail race…and I still haven’t cleaned my shoes. They’re pretty filthy, but it almost seems like a badge of honor to keep them that way…Let me first say that this was a fantastic choice for a first race…the organization here was top-notch. At every point where we came out of the trail and had to cross a road, there were always volunteers guiding and cheering us on, while police held up cars and directed them when to go… much more here–> (The Lesser Known Runners)
And if you’d like to post a review yourself without my intervention, the comments are open.
Well that was something, huh? Temps in the 70s, a little rain and a billion percent humidity? I ran an easy eight Monday morning in similar conditions and I was dying out there!
Over the years I’ve often noted that I didn’t name this race the Cupcake Classic. There’s a reason for that.
I tip my colonial tricorn hat to those that braved the trail on our Yankee Doodle Sunday. This was not a day for course records (nobody came close) or personal ones. It was a day simply to test your inner strength and bring it home to the finish. That was one hard-earned medal.
A big part of being out there in such conditions is that people have the opportunity to remove themselves from the deadening impact of our increasingly interconnected electronic society and return the mind and body to its most basic roots. Using the mind and body like that makes you feel alive.
In fact, it’s the very reason I’ve always started this race with drawn-out, unamplified yells and musket shots. It is consistent not only with our colonial roots but a desire to take a moment to gather the mind as we return ourselves to one of our primal activities – running over the dirt and through the forests. To paraphrase John Muir, we are in the woods, and the woods are in us, kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver, filling every pore and cell of us.
May you all be able to savor the experience.
Now in case you were wondering what type of drama was taking place at the front of the race while you were sweating buckets elsewhere in that dirt (and some mud, it appears), it was this: The top three men finished within one minute of each other.
Breaking the tape was newcomer Arnaud Enjalbert of Manhattan in 1:23:22 on the musket, an extraordinary pace of 6:22/mile when you think about the heat and humidity and that this was his virgin P2P. Following him to the finish was course record holder Steve Crnic of Brooklyn (1:24:12), followed just 10 seconds later by another Brooklyn newcomer, Erik Reitinger (1:24:22).
On the women’s side, we also had a newcomer break the tape, Kelsey Luoma of Brooklyn (1:35:55 on the musket). Or at least she would have broken the tape if she hadn’t run behind me as I was holding it. It seems that NewRo Runners’ own Russell Cruz (men’s 50-59 champ) was dueling it out with Kelsey as they furiously sprinted down the stretch. Kelsey the Competitor was focused on Russell not the tape.
According to Russel, as he made the turn off the street to the school grounds, he didn’t see her, and he started to celebrate before crossing the finish line. Kelsey was simply too powerful and strong when he realized it and finished with her ferocious kick.
Following were Laura Morrison of Wallingford, CT (1:36:57) and Morgan Lingar of Manhattan (1:38:26). Morgan repeated her third place finish from 2016.
By virtue of winning, Kelsey and Arnaud come back as my guest to all future P2Ps, for as long as I remain race director.
There are, by the way, thousands of free hi-res pictures from the race similar to what you see here, even if none of them have you breaking (or missing) the tape.
There were many people and companies that made this event possible, and they deserve a shout-out before I get to the Race Director’s Prize. We can start with our volunteers who worked tirelessly to plan and execute this day. They will get their own special posting.
We couldn’t put on an event like this without sponsors, including Westchester Road Runner, where hundreds of runners claimed their bibs before the race. They’ve been a sponsor every year since our inception.
There was New Rochelle Chevrolet again, with pace cars leading waves, and food back at the track. Montefiore New Rochelle Hospital staffed the finish line medical tent, Empress EMS was out there at the aid stations and Finish Line PT was handling the post-race massages. Professional Physical Therapy was at the start line. None of these folks are doing this for the money, but because they are an integral part of our community.
Also on hand at the finish was Half Time Beverage and Rye Beverage making sure you had plenty of water. Hudson Milk provided that outrageous chocolate milk.
Food came in courtesy of AJ’s Burgers and Texas Roadhouse, as well as subs from DeCicco’s Markets and bagels from H&R Bialy. These are all local businesses. Additional funding was provided by P2P newcomer Home Advisor.
Sporting goods giant Salomon was at our finish yet again, providing swag to our overall 1-2-3 and age group winners, and more swag was donated to overall 1-2-3 by REI.
Lastly, communications were provided yet again by our local ham operations, the Westchester Emergency Communications Association.
And you know that really cool 10th year anniversary shirt? Thank you Sean from Echo Design Lab!
And now, on to the Race Director’s Prize, given out in my absolute discretion to whoever I feel like giving it to, and for any reason. The prize is a free entry into next year’s Paine to Pain.
The prize has noting whatsoever to do with speed. Sometimes it goes out to those who were injured, and then proudly showed off those injuries at the end. This fits with my predisposition for people living life to the fullest despite the obstacles that life tosses into their paths.
With that in mind, last year there were two: With one going to a blind runner, Pam McGonigle (a 4x Paralympian, gold medal winner), and her guide, Nicholas Spiranza. Pam returned to run again this year with guides, and Nick went on to race his 9th consecutive P2P.
This year’s winner is Rev. Donald Paine. The name is no accident, as he learned about this race because he’s a direct descendant of Thomas Paine, whose farm you raced over at the start, now known as the Broadview hill.
But that’s not why he gets the award. Don was hit by a car some 15 months ago, busting up his pelvis, back and head, among other body parts. But he is also a marathoner, having run the NYC Marathon 28 times. And he is also the official spiritual advisor to the race, courtesy of NYC Marathon legend Fred Lebow.
After talking with Don, I created a Wave Zero. Because I’m the RD and I get to do that kind of stuff if I feel like it.
Don went off one hour earlier than everyone else. Then our speedsters who were going to fly down the trail at a sub 7:00 pace were given warnings to watch out for him moving at a significantly slower speed. Don told me after that that everyone showed courtesy and shouted out encouragement. You guys are awesome. Thank you from both of us.
Don didn’t have an easy time of it out there due to the weather and his pelvic injury, but I was still around when he crossed the finish line. Covered in pain. And perhaps some satisfaction (and a bit of glory) that he was able to partially overcome some obstacles that were tossed his way by the car that hit him.
Such people are an inspiration to all of us, and make us realize how small some of our “problems” and complaints might be. These people appreciate that you only get one go-around in this world, and there are no mulligans to be taken. You go out there and you do it, or you stay at home. Don was out there.
Same time next year? Preliminary race date (pending permits) is October 7th, once again Columbus Day Sunday. Keep an eye out for the stupid-cheap early bird special!
With a bit of luck, this answers all your questions, though some of you will refuse to read to the bottom and send me questions anyway:
1. Start Time: Wave 1 starts with a gunshot at 9 am, unless the musket misfires a couple of times and I have to holler “Go!”
If you don’t pick up your packet beforehand, please leave ample time before the race for parking, packet pick up, port-o-potties, bag check and schmoozing. We don’t really care if you schmooze, we just want you to get there earlyand not be frantically running up at the last second demanding attention.
2. Wave Start: Five waves, with 150-200 in each, leaving at 9:00, 9:03, 9:06, 9:12 and 9:15. All prior races have gone off exactly on time.
The race is electronically timed and we know from your chip where you’re supposed to start. Don’t screw that up. Your bib numbers and wave assignments are now on the website. You need to know your bib number.
Some runners in later waves will be faster than those in earlier ones. This is deliberate, and helps to fill the gaps between the waves, since putting all of the middle-of-the-pack runners in the same wave is counter-productive. We hate congestion on the trails.
3. Number Pick-up: We strongly encourage runners to pick up bibs and shirts prior to race day at Westchester Road Runner (our gold sponsor for all 10 years!) at 179 East Post Road in White Plains:
Friday: 5-8 pm
Saturday: 10 am-4 pm
Please pick up your own number and nobody else’s. Please bring ID. The only exceptions that allow you to pick up for someone else are: (1) they have the same last name or address as you or (2) you show a volunteer an email or text from them with a photo of their license and a note authorizing the pickup.
You will receive a free copy of Trail Runner Magazine while our supplies last.
In addition, Westchester Road Runner is offering 20% off non-sale shoes and clothes, at the time you pick up your number.
The store will also recycle old running shoes to charity. Rule of thumb: If you haven’t worn them in a year, donate them.
4. Number transfers are not permitted. Veteran P2Pers will remember that if you transfer a number, a kitten will die. And it will be your fault. We sold a ton of bibs stupid-cheap last year for $30, but only because we know many folks wouldn’t be able to use them (it actually costs about $45/entrant to put on the race). It’s fun to do.
5. Shirts are guaranteed to those who registered before September 1st. If you don’t get a shirt at check-in, you can pick one up after the race on a first come, first serve basis (depending on the number of no-shows). Our shirt policy can be found at this link.
6. Late Registration: If you have friends that still haven’t registered, well isn’t that lazy? And kind of pathetic for endurance athletes?
If they come to number pick-up on Friday or Saturday they can register. Depending on where registration stands at that point, we’ll make the call late Sat afternoon whether we’ll have race day registration. If we do, it will be at the start area between 7-8:30 a.m. We will not oversell the race and swamp the trails with too many runners. To register in person, print out this entry blank, fill in the first page, sign the waiver on the second page and bring it with you.
7. Parking is available in two parking lots and on the street. The lot in front of the High School will fill up early. The lot behind the High School on Clove Road is quite large, and has a walkway bringing you past the front of the school toward the start.
Don’t even think about parking on Broadview, as that is the racecourse. Click here for a printable map of the parking areas, which you can click again to enlarge. Please consider carpooling to alleviate congestion.
A taxi from the station should cost about $7. We expect many Manhattan/Brooklyn runners so keep your eyes open to share a taxi with other runners. Your mileage may vary on use of the phrase hook up.
Or use our Facebook page to see if you can hook up with another runner. Maybe you’ll get luckier than you can imagine.
9. Baggage Drop is available just steps from the start. You can check one bag, which will be brought to the finish line. Your bib will have a numbered pull tag that can be pinned to your bag. Please don’t leave valuables in the bags, as we are not responsible for them.
Emotional baggage, however, must be taken with you on the trail. There’s only so much our volunteers can do.
10. Course Markings: Our team of Trail Pixies expects to lay down about 500 bright pink flags with our Colonial Runner logo, placed at trail intersections and occasional intervals. Some people will insist on ignoring the flags and run off course anyway.
11. Toilets: Porto-potties at the start (get there early!), the 7.5-mile mark (Saxon Woods golf course) and the High School locker room at the finish.
12. Water/Medical: Water and medical attention will be available at only three spots during the race, in addition to the start and finish. These aid stations are at miles 4-ish, 7.5-ish and 10.8-ish. Carry supplemental water if the weather is warm/humid.
13. Mid-Race Drop-Out: If you get injured, or are too exhausted to finish, you should check in with a volunteer at an aid station. If you can’t make it to the aid station, tell a volunteer on the course. If you tell the police you are injured they will transport you to the emergency room, not the finish line.
14. The course closes: Sweepers will discharge police and volunteers, starting in Wave 5 and finishing in three hours. Please stay in front of the sweepers! We estimate that middle-of-the-pack finishing times will be your regular 1/2 marathon pace plus an extra 15 minutes to account for the rough terrain. If you’re slower than the sweeper you are on your own (but we will leave the flags in place so you won’t be lost, just lonely).
15. Post-Race: We should have lots of good food. Do we know how to treat you well or what? Check it out:
Post-Race Showers!We’ve once again arranged for the high school locker room to be opened so you can shower and change.17. No Dogs. We have dogs. We like their happy, wagging tails and we like scratching their bellies. They are the darlings of social media, though the cats think otherwise. Sadly, we don’t get to make the rules for the school grounds. That means Tucker, Princess and Snoopy have to stay home. (The fact that it is a school is also the reason we can’t have beer – so stop asking me! I tried!)
18. Volunteers: This event is put on by NewRo Runners. Our entire race committee, race director included, is volunteer. We expect 200+ volunteers on race day. Please be nice to them, they are working hard. Kissing volunteers is enthusiastically permitted. Kissees must be 18 or older to participate.
19. Free Photos: This year we once again have free professional photos from the race for you. Your kids, grandma or pet pot-bellied pig can pre-register for them at this link. This is the place you’ll go post-race to see if we got the shot that makes you look both tough and fabulous.
20. Feedback: We started with 50 people in 2008 and now routinely get over 900 entries and 700 runners. The vast majority of our runners learned of the race by word of mouth. We encourage feedback regarding the event to know what works and what doesn’t as we continue to grow and continue to rely on word of mouth as our main means of marketing.
Good luck out there on Sunday!
Race Director Paine to Pain Trail 1/2 Marathon
Westchester County, NY painetopain.com
Daytime phone: 212-983-5900
The Turkewitz Law Firm
228 East 45th Street – 17th Floor
New York, NY 10017
So you once again get stupid-cheap in exchange for a bigger risk of no-show due to injury or conflict because you have to go to the baby shower of your third cousin, twice removed, who you see once every two years at a funeral but you have been told that it’s a family obligation and you will be forever and a day remembered if you foul this up and don’t go to it.
Yes! I know that was a run-on sentence! Do I look like an idiot?!? Don’t answer that! It was a rhetorical question! I’m just excited! Can’t you see all the exclamation marks!!!
Registration is open for just three days! Did you get that?
And download your free online pics! Stick ’em on Facebook. Stick ’em on Instagram! Stick ’em to your toddler’s tushy!
And remember, if you blow this stupid-cheap early registration we will re-open on April 22nd, Earth Day, at our usual early-bird rate of $50. Still cheap! But not stupid-cheap! Stupid-cheap is a 40% discount off regular cheap!
And we once again thank our wonderful sponsors from this past year’s ridiculously successful race:
All runners are invited to join us for this trail run, whether you are signed up for the race or not, and whether you want to run the whole loop or just a section (see below).
The preview is not a race, but simply a guided running tour of the P2P course, hosted by NewRo Runners, who will do this run as one of our regular weekend group runs.
We’ll have multiple groups – which we coyly designate as fast, medium and slow, because tall, grande and venti didn’t seem right. The groupings will generally (and very loosely) be:
Fastest – training for 3:20 marathon or faster (or 1:30 ½-marathon)
Medium – training for 3:20 – 4:00 marathon (or 1:30 – 2:00 ½-marathon)
Slower – training for 4-5:00 hour marathon (All runners should be capable of running a 2:30 half marathon on the street – please, no walkers.)
There are no fees, no services, and you don’t have to be a member of NewRo Runners to join us. Just send me an email, or tweet (@PaineToPain) or mention it on our Facebook page, so that I have a general sense of how big our crowd will be and how many pacers we will need, and let me know which group you think you might run with. You can always change groups on the spot, or mid-run if you don’t like the leopard print shorts of the guy in front of you.
You can also run a shorter distance if you choose.
Important!! We do not meet at the starting line for P2P! We start, instead, at the trailhead for the Leatherstocking Trail. This is at the corner of Pinebrook Boulevard and Hillside Crescent in New Rochelle. (See map) There is parking available on Hillside Crescent.
There is one water stop along the way, at the Saxon Woods Golf Club, which has bathrooms as well, and is at the 6.8-ish-mile mark for this run (and the 7.5-mile mark for the actual race).
Your options are:
5.6 miles — Out and back on the Leatherstocking trail, which is marked.
10 miles — Stay with the group until we head south down the Hutchinson River Trail (after passing the water stop) and then bail out when at Pinebrook Boulevard. This is the same street we started on, but two miles away. Then run those two miles on Pinebrook back to the start. There are no turns to make after leaving the group.
13+ — The full monty. As an extra bonus, instead of running the Broadview hill at the start of the race, you get to run it at the end when you’re tired.
Please let me know if you will be able to join us.