by Mark Mindel
In 1976 I was teaching English at Bishop Gibbons and working at the Schenectady Parks and Recreation in the summer to supplement my meager Diocesan paycheck. My co-worker, Chris Carroll, was a former runner at Gibbons. We were approached by Joseph Notar, a Schenectady City Councilman, about celebrating the country’s Bicentennial with a road race.
We came up with a run we used to do from Gibbons down Albany Street to downtown Schenectady and back up through Niskayuna, then returning to Gibbons. It was about a nine mile run.
We decided to start and finish at Central Park, using the high school cross country course start and finish of the Grout Run and our own Bishop Gibbons Invitational.
We ran down Bradley Blvd past St. Clare’s Hospital to McClellan, turning at Grand Blvd by Linton HS (now Schenectady HS). We continued past Ellis Hospital and Union College, my alma mater, on Nott St., crossing Erie Blvd. and taking Front St. through the Stockade.
We turned at Lawrence the Indian to State St, and climbed up, up, up to Fehr Ave. and back into Central Park, circled the park and entered again at the Main Gate by Wright Ave.
We then circled the Duck Pond and finished at the Casino right across from the Schenectady Parks and Recreation headquarters. It measured over 9 miles and became the now famous Schenectady Stockade-athon 15k.
I completed the first 43 editions of the race, coming in the top 10 the first eight years through 1983 and having won in 1976, ’77 and ’79.
The first year was interesting. Scott Ferguson, a Shaker HS senior, was leading the race by about 15 meters when St. Luke’s church let out and I caught him; we decided to tie, as was the way of the world back then. I tied with Jay Smith, an RPI senior, the next year, and won outright in 1979 over nemesis Larry Frederick in 47:22, in my best year of running. He also finished second to me at the Montreal Marathon two months earlier.
Son Scott ran with me as workouts while he was at Shen (2004 grad) and then began competing seriously in the Stockade-athon after running at the U. of Cincinnati. Scott has one more top ten finish then I do (9) with two third place finishes (2010 and 2022). His best time was this year, 47:59.
Daughter-in-law Sasha finished 3rd in 2013 in 55:40. In my final Stockade-athon in 2018 (#43) I ran with several Fleet Feet runners and Sasha, who was seven months pregnant with Dylan. Scott came back to join us after racing in Vale Park.
After injuring myself in the 2018 Turkey Trot (my 52nd straight since 1967) I hung up the racing shoes and have now become a steady bike leader for Josh Merlis and AREEP.
In 2019 I biked the course; 2020 was the COVID year and Fleet Feet held a virtual race which I biked alongside. In 2021 (Cara Sherman Udvadia) and 2022 (Karen Bertasso Hughes) I was lead biker for the female runners, which I hope to continue to do into my 70s and maybe beyond.
While speaking of history, Mark Mindel won the Montreal Marathon in 1977 and it made the NY Times!
Click on picture to go to NYT article