It takes a lot to put on a Classic!

Planning for the Crystal Run Healthcare Classic 10K Weekend each year begins with the unfolding of the Classic Weekend itself. Each Classic follows a formula that has worked for many years, but the intrinsic elements are what continue to make each year unique, beginning with the inner circle of folks who keep things organized, and all of the volunteers. Without volunteers, professionally organized events, as well as all volunteer events, would not function as they do.

Each Classic Weekend is followed by one or two volunteer team meetings or debriefings. The debrief meetings are what lead to most of the choices that are made for the next year’s race. Questions arise, like: Next year, should the 10K and the 5K start at the same time, instead of one hour between starting times? Does elite runner prize money achieve its goal to generate more interest and participation, especially in the Classic 10K?

There are so many questions, opinions and solutions as to what is best for this wonderful weekend of traditions and history, that there is no perfect path. In the end each year, the only direction to take is the one the team chooses through consensus, which of course will never please everybody, and that’s okay. Hopefully, at the end of the day, great choices are made.

For 39 years, the Classic has been an experiment of ideas, opportunities and many times, luck. Ideas come from each person you talk with, what is read, seen and heard. Opportunities, like Olympian Rod Dixon sharing his ideas and participating in the execution of the KiDs Marathon and having just plain good luck with the weather.

There are so many things that cannot be controlled. Some volunteers cannot perform a function they have agreed to because something has come up, like family illness, at the last minute. A cushion is needed just in case, someone who can fill in and complete the task of the missing volunteer. For example, this year a couple of elite runners were given race numbers assigned to them, and unfortunately they pinned the wrong bib number on their singlet, which resulted in the wrong times being posted for those runners when they hit the finish. Last year, just after two miles, as the lead pack of runner’s made a right turn onto Monhagen, a pedestrian literally walked into them; thankfully, the pack reacted to the man as a brief obstacle and they didn’t miss a step. It always amazes me that the things we remember are not the successes and the positives, which are many, but instead we remember the negatives.

What also makes the Classic work are great community partners, like the Middletown School District, the City of Middletown, the Town of Wallkill and the sponsors: Crystal Run Healthcare; Orange County; the Rowley and Rivenburgh families; Mediacom; Formula H Motorworks; Goldstein, Lieberman & Company LLC; Fellenzer Engineering; KVI Uniforms/Weber’s; Neighbor RX Pharmacy; Crunch Fitness; Something Sweet; Fluffy Pupps; Winner’s Bracket; and many more.

Each fall season, usually after the New York City marathon is held, our team of volunteers stages a recognition dinner to thank everyone for their generosity, to welcome them back for another year and to give the proceeds for the Classic Weekend to some of the neediest charities in our area.

The most important thing to the organizers of this wonderful event is that the weekend is safe for all involved. The courses are tight when the runners and walkers are on the routes. The police and firefighters provide the support needed. Mobilife is everywhere just in case anyone has a health scare, an accident and to help prevent such occurrences.

It is an honor to be part of the team of dedicated volunteers who are the heart and soul of the Crystal Run Healthcare Classic 10K Weekend. We are looking forward to the 40th Classic in 2020!

Frank Giannino’s run column appears on Thursdays in the Times Herald-Record and recordonline.com/sports.