On November 7th, the 2nd Annual Rockies 5K will take place at Rockefeller State Park in Tarrytown, NY.
For anyone reading this who is local to the area, and is perhaps thinking of running this race - I ask that you consider refraining from doing so.
The park officials have recently implemented a ruling that bans runners around the Swan Lake portion of the park from 11 am to 5 pm on weekends and holidays. It seems that they will, in fact, even resort to herding runners off the trail.
The ban applies only to the 1.2 mile Swan Lake trail - for now, the remainder of the park is not off limits.
Apparently, they came to this decision after receiving multiple complaints about rude packs of runners, clogging the trails and overrunning anyone else who happens to be on foot.
Now, admittedly, I don't run at Rockefeller very often. But when I have been there I've never seen any evidence of such behavior. On the contrary, my running companions are incredibly considerate - we make a point to go out of our way to be as unobtrusive as possible. I can't make that claim on behalf of all runners, but I'd like to think that there are more polite runners our there than there are impolite ones. I would, in fact, go so far as to say that walkers are by far more difficult when approached on trails, as they often walk two or three abreast and do not move aside (whereas most runners will adjust to running in single file when things get congested).
So that leaves me to question why park officials would choose to alienate an entire group of athletes who look upon Rockefeller State Park as their open-air home? What makes my mode of sport less valid and more disturbing than walkers, cyclists and equestrians? I particularly question the justification that:
"the preserve is designated specifically for passive recreation such as hiking, horseback riding and walking, but the language does not mention running". - Alix Schnee, park manager (as quoted in the Journal News)
I wonder if Ms. Schnee has ever hiked, walked or ridden horseback. I certainly wouldn't classify any of those activities as passive - would you?
It pains me to suggest that anyone refrain from helping to fill the coffers of the State Park system - the budget cutbacks were felt all throughout the winter (they didn't winterize the restrooms at Rockland Lake, but thankfully our local running club arranged for Porta-Potties) and it seems as though boycotting the race may well be a case of "cutting of your nose to spite your face". But local runners need to take a stand and let park management know that the new restriction is unjust.
If there are rude and inconsiderate runners - then by all means police THOSE individuals who are causing a problem. But don't presume to punish us all. That may have worked in pre-K, but I can tie my own
shoes now. Treat me as an adult and I'll afford you the same respect.