The Dutchess County Classic has always been a family affair for the Perks.
Joshua Perks is traveling from Windham, New Hampshire to LaGrange for the 38th annual event, and trained for the road race under his father Stephen — who emerged a winner in the classic twice in 1981 and 1984.
Joshua Perks’ children, Hazel Perks, 6, and Rosie Perks, 3, are also competing in this year’s event, which is going to be held Sunday morning at Arlington High School in Freedom Plains. Joshua Perks is participating in the 5K, while his children are competing in the one-mile kids run. There is also a half-marathon. The kids race starts the day’s festivities at 8 a.m. The half-marathon begins at 8:30 a.m. with the 5K starting 15 minutes later.
There are a few subtle changes to this year’s event, including the location of the half-marathon finish line and the post-race awards ceremony, as well as the elimination of shuttle buses. Drivers can also anticipate road closures, as hundreds of runners descend upon the mid-Hudson Valley Sunday morning.
Joshua Perks already has the first part of the day mapped out.
“Both of my kids are doing the one-mile. I’ll probably walk or jog with Rosie and turn around early with her,” he said.
He’ll then take to running the 5K for the first time, after having run the half-marathon a number of times.
“Obviously, (the 5K) is a whole lot shorter,” Joshua Perks said. “I’m excited to run a shorter race. It’s something different.”
The Perks are among the hundreds of runners who will take their marks, get set and go. On Wednesday, race director Keith Axelrod said the event was approaching 700 participants.
Preregistration ended Thursday night, though runners are welcome to register on the morning of the race. Typically, the event draws more than 1,000 competitors.
This year’s flat course will look much like it did a year ago, save for a subtle change: The finish line for the half-marathon will be moved off Stringham Road to the parking lot of LaGrange Town Hall. The half-marathon course trails along Hillside Lake Road and circles north, back along Robinson Lane before the finish line at the Town Hall.
“It eases the issue with traffic,” Axelrod said of moving the finish line. “That slight change is important and helpful.”
The 5K will start and finish at the high school, as competitors will run along and turn back on Freedom Road.
The post-race awards ceremony is also being moved from outdoors to indoors. When the pylons are put away and the event concludes, runners can accept their medals and awards inside the Arlington gymnasium. In one last change, no shuttle buses will be available to take fans from the high school to the Town Hall.
Last year, shuttle buses were available, taking people from the high school to the Town Hall to watch the end of the half-marathon. But the buses created traffic problems last year — and Axelrod said not many used them.
Security for the event, however, will be similar to years past.
Safety will be enforced by officers from a handful of agencies. Axelrod said the LaGrange Fire District will be on hand, as well as EMTs and medics, with water stations available every 1.5 to two miles along the paths. The state police will also be present, along with the East Fishkill police.
And because of the event, motorists can expect multiple road closures.
Between 8 and 9:30 a.m., Dr. Fink Road will be closed. Freedom Road will be closed from Route 55 to the entrance of James Baird State Park for the 5K, and it’s expected to be off-limits from 8:45-9:45 a.m. Route 55 will briefly be closed to vehicular traffic from 8:35-8:45 a.m. at the Lauer Road intersection to permit runners to safely cross the intersection. Lauer Road will be open to traffic only.
From 8:30 a.m. to noon, Noxon Road, from the intersection of Robinson Lane to Stringham Road, will be reduced to one lane of traffic. Hillside Lake Road will have a designated area for runners on the north shoulder.
“It’s very well-thought-out,” Axelrod said of the security and traffic control. “We’re in good shape.”
And so are the runners.
Vanessa Murphy of Beacon is competing in the 5K, after deciding to start walking, jogging and running in May. While groups like the Perks are running for family pride, Murphy is running for her newfound love.
“It’s been an exciting, revitalizing journey,” she said. “I can’t wait for Sunday to kick some asphalt.”
38th annual Dutchess County Classic
Where: Arlington High School in Freedom Plains
Kids race: One-mile race open to children ages 12 and younger, 8 a.m.
Half marathon: 13.1-mile race, 8:30 a.m.
5K: 3.1-mile race, 8:45 a.m.
The annual Dutchess County Classic road race will be held Sunday morning and the Journal is your source for live updates. Reporters A.J. Martelli (@AJM_PoJoSports) and Stephen Haynes (@StephenHaynes4), and photographer Alex Wagner (@AlexHWagner) will be providing live updates, photos and information on Twitter. They’ll be looking to talk to participants, so if you see them, say hello.
Got any photos of yourself training you want to share with the Journal? Got a training selfie or a fun photo you’re taking on Sunday? Share those with us, too. Post them on Instagram with #dutchessclassic
Male and female winners of the 2015 Dutchess County Classic
Half-marathon: Jon Lindenauer and Lisa DeGuzman
5K: Marisa Sutera-Strange and Tommy Delaney
1-mile kids run: Brendan Myer and Isabelle Serrani