By Ann Friedman
Runners and walkers convened on Schenectady’s Central Park on Thanksgiving morning to participate in the 36th annual The Foundation for Ellis Medicine’s Cardiac Classic.
More than 1,400 people ran in the 5K Road Race, 100 in the 2 Mile Wellness Walk and 75 children in the 1 Mile Duck Pond Fun Run.
Debbie Ashby of Malta waited near the starting line for her family coming from Glenville with her two children, Andrew, 19, and Ryann, 15.
Ashby said her family has participated in the 5K Road Race for 10 years.
“Our family is spread out most of the day, so this is our time to come together for something we can be proud of,” she said. “It’s fulfilling.”
Ryann said her family makes and purchases props such as hats with turkeys on them to wear in the race.
“It’s a family tradition,” she said of the event. “How many people can say they spent the morning running a 5K?”
Andrew, a Siena student and former cross-country runner at Ballston Spa High School, said he used to run the Central Park course.
“I’ve seen more and more people every year and I always run into friends,” he said. “It makes me feel like this is something I can do with my kids someday.”
Robert Schmitz, community engagement and special events manager at The Foundation for Ellis Medicine, said the Cardiac Classic raised $45,000, which will be given to the hospital’s affiliate, Visiting Nurse Service of Northeast New York.
“It’s a great event for families,” he said. “It’s a good way to get everyone out to spend time together in the morning.”
Lucia Nicholas of Niskayuna ran the Cardiac Classic with her son, Gianni, for the second year in a row.
“It’s important for kids and adults to value their health,” she said. “Also, it’s important to be mindful of staying healthy for each other.”
Guilderland resident Wendy Decatur has been participating in the race for the past 10 years and said she’s seen the event grow every year.
“There are a lot more people now than the first year I started,” she said. “It’s a nice race and it’s for a good cause.”
Decatur added that the Cardiac Classic is one of 10 local races she participates in throughout the year.
“I’d like to see it continue to have high participation,” she said. “It’s been around a long time and anything fitness is important in our society.”
Like Decatur, Bridgett Frary of Niskayuna has seen more people register for the race every year.
“It’s gotten bigger and bigger,” she said. “It’s a neat way to start the day.”
Frary added that while there are other Thanksgiving 5K races across the Capital Region, the Cardiac Classic is special.
“It’s small and it’s a really pretty course,” she said. “I’d love to see it continue to get bigger in the future.”
Charlie Ragone, a student at the University at Albany, ran alongside Irene Thomas of Saint Rose.
“It’s a good fundraiser and it brings people together,” he said. “I hope more people do it.”
Thomas added: “I’ll definitely be doing it next year.”