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Go for a run or have a beer!

The qualifier for the NYC marathon, Yonkers is the second oldest marathon in the country behind the Boston Marathon – but supposedly the hardest and hilliest marathon in the books!
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With mud run, new promotion, there’s optimism in Yonkers
Nancy Haggerty , nhaggerty@lohud.com 6:37 p.m. EDT October 13, 2016

Looking to maintain participation numbers this year and forecasting double- and triple-number increases soon, the new head of the Yonkers Marathon and its expanded races is promoting this year’s runs by providing a DJ, getting downtown restaurant participation with food and beverage discounts and offering registration discounts.

Unlike previous years, Yonkers will run races over two days, rather than one.They will include a costumed superheroes 5K and 2K and a 5K mud run (over obstacles and through mud) on Oct. 22 and the traditional half-marathon and marathon Oct. 23.

Race director Tom Cronin, head of Albany-based Success Public Relations, which won the bid to oversee the races for three years, has put on mud runs for the past couple of years.

The mud run, which is a new event, as well as a revamped 5K superheroes and new 2K superheroes family walk/run, all based out of Trevor Park, are expected to add more fun to what have largely been events for only hardcore runners.

Cronin sees the races as a promotion for a city on the cusp of becoming the next Brooklyn.

“It can be the next up-and-coming area for millennials and the coming generation who can’t afford Manhattan,” he said, pointing to new and planned Hudson Riverfront apartments.

This will be the Yonkers Marathon’s 91st running, making it the second-oldest marathon in the U.S. behind the Boston Marathon.

The marathon will be a qualifier for Boston, which reserves most of its 30,000 annual spots for racers who’ve run qualifying times at other marathons. Boston turns away many runners each year.

That hasn’t been a problem in Yonkers, in part, Cronin thinks, because the race hasn’t been promoted properly.

The Yonkers Marathon has been known for its hills, a turnoff for many. But Cronin is calling the race “The Toughest Marathon in the East” to promote it as a challenge. And the additional races are designed for those looking more for an entertaining race.

“It has had really serious trouble branding-wise,” he said. “It needed some oomph. The numbers have been stagnant or dropping. My bid was to make it a Yonkers weekend.”

Last year, 221 people finished the marathon, 557 the half and 104 the 5K, which was in its first year.

How many people will run this year is unknown.

Cronin didn’t sign his contract with Yonkers until late June, after his company was awarded the bid following Yonkers’ decision earlier in the year to end its contract with New York City Runs.

With race details not available early in the year, Cronin said, some runners registered for other races.

And there are plenty of conflicts around the weekend.

Many Taconic Road Runners members ran the Oct. 9 Hudson Mohawk Marathon and many others plan to run the Nov. 6 New York City Marathon, meaning they won’t be running Yonkers.

Oct. 22 is also the date of the Rivertown Runners’ seventh annual Sleepy Hollow Halloween 10K, which is expected to draw more than 1,000 participants, according to Rivertown Runners president and co-founder Todd Ruppel.

But Gregory Cohen, president of the Taconic Road Runners, termed Yonkers’ mud run an “exciting marketing opportunity,” expressing optimism it will draw many people.

Cronin, who is also public relations director of the Empire Sports Council, said his goal is to at least match last year’s runner numbers.

John Rubbo, executive officer of the Yonkers Brewing Company, the brewery and restaurant located on Main Street near the waterfront’s Van der Donck Park, where after-race parties will be held, is optimistic about race revisions attracting people.

“I think the additional new runs are a great idea,” said Rubbo, who said last year’s races “did a tremendous amount for business down here.”

“I was pleasantly surprised with the number of people who stayed downtown and had brunch or beer after running,” he said.

This year, his brewery is providing the dollar post-race beers to runners 21 and older both days and offering food specials throughout Saturday and Sunday, as are several neighboring restaurants.

It’s even opening two hours early, at 8 a.m., on marathon/half marathon Sunday, so fans can purchase breakfast and coffee.

“I think this is great for the downtown,” Rubbo said of the weekend.

Cronin believes it will be even better still in years to come.

“This has to be branded and developed. It will take three years to do,” he said. “It will become not just a historical race but will be an event that will be the focal point of the city. As the event grows, residents – Hispanic, black, white – will want to participate.”

Cronin predicted race numbers will double next year and triple the following year as a result of the promotion his company will provide.

As an added incentive this year, all police, firefighters, EMT workers and college students will receive a 20 percent registration discount on all races when registering online at http://www.theyonkersmarathon.com/race-day.html

Part of the proceeds will go to the family of fallen New York City Fire Department battalion chief Michael Fahy, a Yonkers resident killed on the job in September.

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