Welcome and 2018 Race Start

(Since the temps were hovering around 34 degrees at 9am, I significantly shortened the pre-race remarks from what I wrote out. Here there are in their entirety.)

Pre race welcome & thanks at JJ5K

Welcome everyone!

I will be saying Thank You A LOT in this pre-race welcome.

Thank you all for coming out to run, volunteer, and watch the race on the first event on this brand new trail system.

Let me tell you a bit about the course.


RUNNERS will begin by heading towards the other upright on the opposite end of the field. Runners will go around the upright, keeping it on their RIGHT side and then turn and head back to this upright, also keeping it to their RIGHT side. (This will help stretch the runners out so not everyone enters the trail at the same time!) Then runners will head into the trail on the opposite end of the field. Later in the race you will come across this same field following the pink flags but you will turn uphill towards the contest field and the finish line.

The first 1/2 mile of the trail is still recovering from the late winter and early spring storms and hasn’t quite dried out yet… so YES, there IS mud in this trail race! My advice is to keep going straight through and don’t worry about mud or wet. Your shoes will be dry and have no mud by the end of the 5k since the rest of the trails after the first bridge are nice and dry — or at least they were yesterday when we set the course…

Follow the pink flags. Course marshals are out there and have walkie talkies in case of injury or getting lost. We also have course sweeps. If you are injured you can wait for a course sweep and they will help you out.

Thank you to the race committee: Bill Crawford, Doreen Crawford, Deborah Burman, Rina Pollack, and my lovely wife Ciorsdan Conran. Thanks also to our junior student race directors Cameron Crawford and Orion Cummings who sat through our boring planning meetings and helped get things moving with the runners at the school. Thanks to our t-shirt artist and JJXC alumni Alex Hall who designed the inaugural shirt.

Thanks to all of the course marshals in the woods who can’t hear us right now because they are in the woods! Thanks to everyone at the finish line and food tent — bagels, coffee, hot chocolate, oranges, and bananas await at the finish. Thanks to Barry Fagan and Becky Fagan — our official race timers. Make sure your number is visible when you cross the finish line! Barry & Becky live in town and direct and time another local trail race – the Sarah Bishop Bushwhack (10k) at Mountain Lakes Park (Sept 30, 2018).

Thank you to our sponsors – they help to underwrite the race and we are very grateful to have all of them as supporters of the new trail system and the race. Northern Westchester Hospital is our premier sponsor. They have a giveaway at the finish line plus some information about their wellness programs. Thanks to Cross River Pharmacy for not only sponsoring the race, but hosting our pre-race bib pickup yesterday. Thanks to John Jay Alumni Bill Bradsell of Bradsell Painting and Carpentry for his generous sponsorship — and Bill is here running today. Thanks to Cheryl Neuberger and Joanne Monteleone of Ginnel Realty who are big supporters of the John Jay Cross Country program. Thank you to King Lumber – when you pass over the new bridges you will know why we are such a great customer of King Lumber. Warren who works there is a John Jay alum and former JJXC runner. Dr Stu Weitzman was our first sponsor to commit and he’s running today. We have many other sponsors but I will ask you to check our web site (and below) for links and information.

Thanks to the Katonah-Lewisboro School District and Town of Lewisboro. They paid for the studies, mapping, and initial engineering documents for the trail project.

We have a few of the Lewisboro Town Board Members present today. Welcome Dan Welsh (who has been a hands-on volunteer getting the bridges built), Lewisboro Supervisor Peter Parsons, and Jane Crimmins who is running today. Kitley Covill, our District 2 Westchester County Legislator is also here to lend a hand. Thank you for coming and thanks for your support both in your official roles — and for helping out the project in a hands-on way.

I also want to thank our fantastic Cross Country & Track coachesCoach Tom, Coach Paul, and Coach Keri. They have done a great job with the team and the course.

Thank you to the John Jay Boosters Club! The race was cosponsored by the Boosters Club and the Cross Country and Track & Field teams. We recommend everyone join the Boosters Club which is a 501c3 charity dedicated to supporting students and athletics in the Katonah Lewisboro School District. The race is a fundraiser for the Boosters Club!

Thank you to all of the wonderful VOLUNTEERS that helped clear and build the trail and the bridges — if you volunteered ONE hour or HUNDREDS of hours you have helped to move the project forward. [Check the video about the trail and bridge building on our photos page if you haven’t already.]

There are many more people I can think of to single out for thanks, but if I thanked everyone who has helped so far we’d be here all day! I will mention a few of them by name: David Gordon who started this project with an idea in 2013. Together with Coach Tom Nohilly he helped get the town and the school district moving on the project. David graduated JJHS in 2015 and is now a junior at the University of Pennsylvania. His father Mark is here today to run the course and his mom Carol is volunteering as a race photographer. We made a special bib for David for today, even though he couldn’t run since he is busy studying for finals.

JJXC Team after sweeping the 2017 Westchester County Championships at Croton Point Park in October 2017.

Thank you to the many runners and families who DONATED to the development of the John Jay Community Trail. The two bridges would not be completed if it weren’t for your donations. All donations go directly to hardware and lumber for the fantastic bridges that will allow access to the other side of the river and the trails beyond that. All of the labor to build the bridges has been volunteer. The second bridge is the biggest undertaking and has an 88 foot length! Special thanks to the Page family and the Hackett family, who donated significant seed money to get the trail and the bridges going. Thanks also to the Carroll family who capped off the Bridge #2 drive with a big donation that got us over the span.

Runners and friends donated over $4,500 online to the bridge & trail building effort. We are in a drive to get an additional $12,000 to complete the community trail so the Fall 2017 Westchester County Champion John Jay Cross Country teams can host a home cross country meet! You can still donate now if you’d like. Donations will remain open online through May 31st and you can also send cross country trail donations via check using this form (download here). Let’s keep the momentum going!

Volunteer and Bridge designer Mike Surdej.

As race director I get the perk of choosing who gets “BIB #1” for this inaugural race. That person today is Mike Surdej, bridge builder, volunteer wrangler, and all around great guy. I’d like to thank Mike — we all owe him a debt of gratitude for driving this project forward and leaving a legacy for decades to come. I don’t exaggerate when I say this race would not be possible today without Mike’s tireless volunteering and advocacy for this community trail project. Here is BIB #1 – let’s give Mike this blueberry pie — and a well deserved round of applause!

OK – is everyone ready?…. set… 🙂

–Rob Cummings, race director

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