LP Marathon is a ‘melting pot’

Runners pack the streets of Lake Placid at the start of last year’s Lake Placid Marathon and Half. (Enterprise file photo — Lou Reuter)

LAKE PLACID — The Lake Placid Marathon and Half will bring nearly 1,000 runners to the streets of the village Sunday, and the owner of the race says it couldn’t be done without the help of the community and volunteers.

Greg Borzilleri, who has owned and operated the marathon for the past three years, said that while nothing is new this year — as far as the course is concerned — there are a lot of international runners who seem to be drawn by the friendliness of the Olympic Village.

“We’re only about 30 off what we had last year, so we’re approaching the 1,000-person mark,” Borzilleri said earlier this week. “I hope to get there by the end of the week. It’s a little over 200 for the full and about 700 or 800 for the half.

“We’re going to leave it (registration) open right up until Saturday, the day before race. Unless we sell out or get a big rush of people.”

Borzilleri helped with the race before purchasing it three years ago, and despite being a qualifier for the Boston Marathon in April, Borzilleri said most people seeking qualification seek out easier courses than Lake Placid.

“We got it measured and officially certified, so it’s a Boston qualifier,” he said. “I didn’t notice a big jump compared to marathon entries in years past. So it’s kind of strange.

“I think it’s a tough course, and it’s kind of hard to qualify for Boston, so I think it’s kind of a bonus if you do. I think people look for the fast and flat and downhill courses to qualify, but I figured we wanted to step it up to be a top-notch operation.

“The course is the same as last year and the aid stations are the same,” he continued. “So it should be pretty smooth.”

Borzilleri said in addition to the picturesque setting, he and race workers and volunteers do a lot to make runners comfortable.

“I think it’s a pretty special race,” he said. “It’s kind of a premier race, where we offer a lot of giveaways. We have a pint glass, a T-shirt, some pretty cool medals. We feed them until they can’t eat any more.

“And I think that the crowd that shows up and town and just everybody makes it such a special thing. It’s similar to Ironman, where people get behind it and people — spectators and visitors and locals — seem to welcome it. It’s not a huge impact on the roads and on the residents, so they accept it and they say, ‘We’re an event town, so let’s roll out the red carpet.’

“It’s a community event, and I wanted to make it more of a community event when I instituted that $2 increase in entry fee to make sure we could give back to local charities. This year, we chose the Joshua Fund and the Community Supper program over in Saranac Lake,” he continued. “The runners are all so friendly to the volunteers, and they seem to have a good time and they’re smiling even though they’re killing themselves in a 13- or 26-mile race. So it’s pretty cool.”

Borzilleri said that as of Tuesday, Lake Placid had the most runners registered, followed by New York City, Saratoga, Schenectady, Syracuse and Rochester. He added that this year there are a number of runners traveling from around the world as well.

“People come from upstate New York, they come from the North Country, they come from the city,” he said. “This year we had kind of spike in foreign country registrations, so we’ve got three people from Australia, Canada, Columbia, Ireland, India, the Netherlands, Philippines, South Africa and the U.S.

“So it’s pretty sweet. We’re a melting pot.”

The race will start at 8 a.m. on Sunday on Main Street in front of the Olympic Speedskating Oval. Registration and check-in are on Saturday. There is a six-hour time limit. To register, visit online at www.lakeplacidmarathon.com.