Rebuilding, one runner at a time

Recent Lake Placid Marathon finisher decline reflects national trend

Runners make their way up Main Street during the 2016 Lake Placid Marathon and Half. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

LAKE PLACID — Rebuilding the Lake Placid Marathon and Half back to its peak, after seeing a continual decline in participation over the past several years, is like running up the last hill on McLenathan Avenue before the finish line at the Olympic Speedskating Oval. It’s hard work, but it must be done in order to get a finisher’s medal hung around your neck.

That’s what Greg Borzilleri is banking on since purchasing the event last fall, and he’s making final preparations for the 13th annual running of the races on Sunday.

“I’m ready. I’m excited,” Borzilleri said Friday after a crew from the state Olympic Regional Development Authority helped put up a blue-and-white banner at the Oval, featuring a newly designed logo. “My goal is that it’s a rebuilding.”

At its height of popularity in 2010, the Lake Placid Marathon and Half tallied 1,913 runners and walkers, according to the results from that year. There were 382 people in the full marathon and 1,531 in the half. In 2016, the results show only 955 participants, 213 for the full and 742 for the half. As of Friday, Borzilleri reported that about 1,070 participants had signed up, with about 220 (21 percent) running the full marathon.

“It’s a very half-marathon oriented event,” Borzilleri said about the proportion between full and half marathon participants. “I think it’s typical for this race.”

Lake Placid’s decline in marathon participants, and the proportions between full and half racers, seems to reflect an overall decline in the U.S., according to a March 23 report by Running USA ( The number of road race finishers declined in the U.S. for the third straight year with 16,957,100 in 2016, a 1 percent decrease from the finishers (17,114,800) in 2015.

“Between 1990 and 2013, finisher totals quickly grew from five million road race runners to over 19 million,” the report stated. “Since 2014, the sport has seen a shrinking of sorts, as totals have now dropped under the 17 million finisher mark for the first time since 2012.”

Running USA CEO Rich Harshbarger was quoted as saying race directors have been reacting to the decline in numbers by getting more creative with their offerings.

“What we’re seeing is more of them increase value and create better experiences for their runners, partners, charities and communities,” he said in the report.

For the first time, the Lake Placid Marathon and Half is a qualifier for the Boston Marathon, a move that Borzilleri hoped would reinvigorate interest in the local race, although he hasn’t seen that expected Boston bump yet, he said Friday.

Still, with almost 1,100 participants signed up for Sunday’s races, Borzilleri is seeing more interest compared to a year ago, and he is just about ready for the 13.1- and 26.2-mile races on Sunday.

In addition to the new logos and redesigned finishers’ medals, Borzilleri will be giving out maple syrup to some of the top finishers this year, made by Michael Farrell at Cornell University’s Uihlein Forest sugarhouse on Bear Cub Lane. Also, event merchandise was purchased through Adirondack Awards in Lake Placid.

“I am trying to keep it local,” Borzilleri said.

Race details

A free Kids Fun Run starts at 2 p.m. today at the Olympic Speedskating Oval, with registration from 1:15 to 1:45 p.m.

Athlete check-in and packet pickup is from 1 to 6 p.m. today at the Lake Placid Conference Center.

Sunday’s race begins at 8 a.m. on Main Street in front of the Oval. The 13.1-mile course goes around Mirror Lake to Parkside Drive, state Route 73, River Road and back to the Oval by way of Mill Pond Drive and McLenathan Avenue, finishing at the Oval. Marathoners need to complete one extra loop from Mill Pond Drive to the end of River Road and back before heading to the Oval.

The cut-off time is 2 p.m. Awards will be available as soon as possible, but there will not be a grand ceremony.

In conjunction with the newly stated goals of the race, an “animal charity” along with a “people charity” will be the beneficiary of a $2 surcharge in registration fees. One dollar from each athlete’s fee will be donated to STOP Domestic Violence to assist their mission to provide direct services to survivors of domestic abuse and crime victims in the region.

Since 2005, the Lake Placid Marathon and Half Marathon has been the go-to road race for locals and visitors alike. Designed to provide a running experience similar to the Ironman Lake Placid event, thousands of athletes every year flock to the area to train.

The timing in early June, opportunities for cross-event training as well as the beauty of the area bring athletes, families, spectators and others back year after year.

For more information, visit online at

Detour information

-Main Street: Closed between Lake Placid Club Drive (Central Garage Mobil) and Mirror Lake Drive (High Peaks Resort) from 7:45 to 8:30 a.m.

-Mirror Lake Drive (between Main Street and Harbor Lane): Closed from 7:45 to 8:30 a.m.

-Mirror Lake Drive/Lake Placid Club Drive: Closed from Parkside Drive to Northwood Road from 7:45 to 8:45 a.m. Construction may affect road surface. Runners be aware.

-Parkside Drive: Closed from Lake Placid Club Drive to the Main Street/Morningside Drive intersection from 8:15 to 9 a.m.

-Route 73/Route 86 Intersection at Mill Hill: Expect delays from 8:15 to 9 a.m.

-Route 73/Sentinel Road/Cascade Road: Southbound lane closed from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. between the Mill Pond Drive intersection and Old Military Road intersection. Northbound lane open (use caution) to local traffic with minor delays expected at Old Military Road intersection. Businesses on Mill Hill (Subway) can be accessed from the Main Street direction throughout the event.

-Mill Pond Drive: Closed between Sentinel Road and McLenathan Avenue from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Local traffic only between Wesvalley Road and McLenathan Avenue from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

-McLenathan Avenue and School Street: Open to local traffic only; please use caution.

-River Road: Open to local traffic only; please use caution.

Alternate routes (8 a.m. – 2 p.m.)

-For northbound through traffic on Route 73 entering Lake Placid: Head west on Old Military Road at the ski jumps. Follow Old Military Road to firehouse and make a right on River Street. Make a left on Wesvalley Road and right onto Cummins Road to arrive at Main Street.

-For southbound traffic leaving Lake Placid on Route 73: Make right off Main Street at Cummins Road and left at Wesvalley Road. Make a right onto River Street and left onto Old Military Road at the firehouse. Old Military Road intersects Route 73 at the ski jumps.

Two-way vehicle traffic will continue throughout the event at the ski jump bridge on Route 73 with Old Military Road accessible in both directions. Runners will be confined to the shoulder on Route 73 between the North Elba Show Grounds and River Road.

Runners will proceed clockwise around Mirror Lake Drive on the inside lane from 8 to 8:30 a.m. Vehicles will be allowed around Mirror Lake Drive from Northwood Road to Harbor Lane during this period.