Race Starting Line Welcome and Remarks

[This is the prepared text for the 2021 race opening remarks – actual words uttered while in front of the starting line may be different — but this was the basis for it.]

Good morning! My name is Rob Cummings – I am the race director for this event. Welcome!

We have two events: first we will have the 5k runners go. After they are in the woods, we will release the 4k walkers. When the 5k & 4k runners and walkers are finished on the track, we will have awards. There are bagels, coffee, and bananas at the finish. And the prizes are tasty too so run fast! (2021 Results are here)

Let me tell you a bit about the course & trail.

RUNNERS will begin here at the JJMS field and head towards the pit field. Runners will do a circuit around the pit field and head back this way and then head into the woods trails. You will head downhill from there onto the main part of the Community Trail including most of the bridges and boardwalks. After you have gone through the main loop you will head back up to the pit field and then once more over the middle school field. This time when you enter the woods you will turn onto the brand-new Championship Bridge and head up the final link trail to the JJ Contest Track & Field for the finish line. 

WALKERS hang back until the runners return from their first trip to the pit field. It will be about 5-8 minutes. You can head out and follow the pink flags for the 4k walk.

Follow the pink flags. Course marshals are out there and can help 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. The Lewisboro Volunteer Ambulance Corps has a crew standing by to assist if anyone is injured.

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. Copia Home and Garden, APEX Fitness, Mid-Westchester Elks Lodge 535, and the Leatherman’s Loop are our gold sponsors. Lily’s Deli & Market of South Salem, State Farm Katonah, DrStu, 850 Wood Fired Restaurant, and Bradsell Contracting are our silver sponsors. Thanks to Cross River Pharmacy. King Lumber, Cross River Demon Shell, La Familia, Learning Resources Center, The Neu Group, Sal’s Service Center, Cross River Eye Care, Bacio Trattoria, South Salem Winery, Gossett Brothers Nursery, Studio23, Katonah Pasta, and Terex, who are our bronze sponsors. Le Chateau, Weinstein Pharmacy, Valet Cleaners of Katonah, Pizza Station, KVIS, and Charles Department Store are special sponsors. The Horse & Hound Inn in South Salem serves as our planning base of operations on Tuesday nights and has been one of our charter sponsors since the start of the race event in 2018.

Many members of both the high school and middle school track & field and Cross Country teams are running and volunteering today. Thanks for coming out athletes, teachers, and coaches.

Thank you to all of the wonderful volunteers — if you volunteered ONE hour or HUNDREDS of hours you have helped to move the project forward and helped make the race happen. Our donors – with over $45,000 raised since 2015 — have completely funded the course building including eight boardwalks and three big bridges.

All of the labor has been supplied by volunteers from the community and school. If you are here for the first time prepare to be amazed at the extent of this cross country trail. It might be the finest trail in the section — but I may also be a bit biased. I can tell you there is no trail like it and we are lucky to have the community support and district support that made it possible. 

Thank you to the many runners and families who donated to the development of the John Jay Community Trail. We are in the “Final Link Fundraiser” drive which started in 2020 and aims to raise over $5,000 to finish the final link boardwalk and trail. The price of wood has gone up over 60% or more in the past year and we are feeling the pinch of that. 

Next year John Jay Cross Country teams will host large home meets for the first time in decades. We have under $1,000 to go to reach our fundraising goal. Donations will remain open online through June 30th and you can also mail trail donations via check using the online form at jjtrail.org.

We will be working during the summer to complete the final section well before the Fall 2021 cross country pre-season. If you are interested in helping out, send us an email at jjtrailrace@gmail.com.

Back to run on the course for the first time in competition is one of the chief instigators of this whole trail. You can read all of the details on the history section of the JJTrail website, but for now I will just say that David Gordon, JJHS class of 2015, is the reason we are all here today. This course was his idea as a cross country runner in 2012. He presented it to the coaches and then the school board. He helped convince everyone that the course was achievable and necessary. He has travelled up from Philadelphia on a number of occasions since graduating JJHS in order to volunteer not only on the trail building effort but also has an EMT-qualified member of the Lewisboro Volunteer Ambulance Corps. Give it up for David!

As race director I get the perk of choosing who gets “BIB #1” for the race. This year the choice was clear – this runner has been a 5 year varsity starter for the John Jay Cross Country and Track & Field teams. As a key member of the team, she won two NY State championships and had many amazing races I have had the privilege to watch and photograph: Kelsey Crawford! In addition to all of this, she volunteered as student race director which involved planning meetings, publicity, and going out into the community and getting sponsorships from local businesses. Go Kelsey Go!

There are many more people I can think of to single out for thanks and recognition, but if I mentioned everyone who has helped so far we’d be here all day! There is a donor recognition page and a sponsor page for this year and prior years. A big thank you to everyone here and everyone who has helped along the way. 

OK — Lets get this race started!

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