OK 5K: Much More Than OK

by Jon Lindenauer

There are a number of races which their name proceeds them in such a way as to speak to what a person may expect from the racing experience.

Boilermaker – it is probably going to be very hot, the race is in mid-July and the course has barely any shade.

The Hard as Hell Half Marathon - I can attest to the fact that it is hard as hell and a half marathon.

The Lost Trail 5 Miler - I won the race but still got lost three times.

Then there are races where the name does NOT feel like an adequate description. I am all but certain the "OK" of the OK5k is an acronym for "Old Kinderhook" or something like that, but as the race has been discussed over the years some version of the following exchange has likely occurred:

"I heard you ran a race recently."

"Yeah, it was OK."

"Yeah, I am not a huge fan of running in races either."

Departing from the adequacy of the name, the race has a fairly rich and competitive history, with a course record under 14:50 for men and under 16:40 for women. The winner of the 2023 Corporate Challenge (a former Olympian in the steeplechase) holds the *second* fastest time on the course.

Personally, going into the race my goal was to stay within range of the top runners. I knew the winner would certainly break 16 minutes by a solid margin (this equates to a pace of roughly 5:08 per mile or faster). A week earlier the top woman at the Freihofer's Run for Women in Albany had run 15:54 and, that being a rare occasion of a local road race where I could only possibly be a spectator, watching that one for the first time definitely fired me up to be back out on the course. And as with Freihofer's, this was my first time at the Kinderhook event. I knew there were few turns but I had never run the course. It had been reinforced in my brain that it was FAST. I had already assigned my own nickname of "the you should really run better than okay at this one" 5k. My name did not have same succinctness but was at least goal-oriented.

As far as competition, I knew at least Ben Fazio (a standout RPI runner and the 2022 champion) and Chuck Terry (local running legend and winner of multiple previous editions of the race) were present. And as I expected, Ben surged out to the front right from the starting gun, leaving a flying-v of runners which included Kinderhook local Dave Vona, Nark runner Tyler Morrissey, Chuck, John Longo and me. Even as someone who had never done the race, this was visually an extremely easy race to strategize: the course turns left near the 1 mile point, then left again near the 2 mile point and left again near the 3 mile mark. Over and over through my college and post-collegiate running endeavors I have had the quote impressed in my mind from Mike Fanelli: "Divide the race into thirds, run the first part with your head, the second part with your personality and the third part with your heart." Where more perfectly could you appropriate this tactic? We all held together through the first mile. Ben made a big move ahead of the lead pack around the 1.5 mile mark and from there the pack began to splinter apart, with John Longo making his own power move at the 2 mile point. My main move in the race felt more like an anti-anyone-else's-move. In my latest previous 5k I felt flat, ran a disappointing time in a race which was supposed to represent a redemption to myself from the year before and got beaten out in the final fraction of a second. I promised myself that was not going to happen today. I told myself that when it was winding down to less than 1k to go, whether I was in 7th or 8th or 10th or whichever place, I was going to fight tooth and nail to stay there or climb higher. I wound up having my best finishing kick of any race thus far this year. Overall, it had gone significantly better than "okay." The sun shone bright that day in a town best known for being the home of the 8th president of the United States, and prizes were awarded in the form of slate black rocks, which also depict a cartoon of the eighth president in full running stride.

My fiancé and I treated ourselves to celebratory craft cocktails after the event from "Harvest Spirits" (which I highly HIGHLY recommend as an absolute gem of Kinderhook) where the owner had just participated in the 5k with his son and recounted with contagious enthusiasm how it had gone. My feelings regarding our experiences there echoed similar sentiments from the race: far, far above average. If I were to select a new name for the OK 5K, it would probably be something along the lines of the "this one is fast, flat and fun and you definitely do not want to miss it if you are a local runner who has never done it before" 5k, although I can certainly appreciate the fact that my name would not fit so well on promotional materials.


Top Ten Men

1

3608

Ben Fazio

27

M

Troy

NY

0:15:29

4:59

2

3246

John Longo

32

M

Waterford

NY

0:15:41

5:03

3

3699

Jonathan Lindenauer

35

M

Ballston Lake

NY

0:15:42

5:04

4

3769

Simon Powhida

26

M

Delmar

NY

0:15:46

5:05

5

3864

Dave Vona

40

M

Germantown

NM

0:15:50

5:06

6

3838

Chuck Terry

41

M

Albany

NY

0:15:54

5:07

7

3742

Tyler Morrissey

26

M

Clifton Park

NY

0:16:32

5:20

8

3861

Jamal Vazquez

25

M

Johnstown

NY

0:16:55

5:27

9

3686

Jacob Koplik

21

M

Delmar

NY

0:16:56

5:27

10

3529

Matthew Brown

23

M

North Creek

NY

0:17:26

5:37

Top Ten Women

3330 Emily Burns 26 F Slingerlands NY 0:17:50

5:45

3706 Tricia Longo 33 F Waterford NY 0:17:57 5:47
3771 Lizzie Predmore 29 F Malta NY 0:18:01 5:48
3151 Hayley Flemming 32 F Ghent NY 0:18:20

5:54

3580 Lara Cunningham 23 F Nassau NY 0:18:48 6:03
3548 Meg Champagne 25 F Saratoga Springs NY 0:19:10 6:10
3586 Michelle Carr 34 F Schenectady NY 0:19:48 6:23
3340 Allison Konderwich 33 F Valatie NY 0:19:51 6:24
3677 Molly Kane 22 F Rensseelaer NY 0:20:23 6:34
3245 Alison Heaphy 56 F Troy NY 0:20:58 6:45

 

Overall Results

ARE (Albany Running Exchange) Analysis

Awards Report

All proceeds from the OK5k Race are donated to local non-profit, charitable organizations. In its 20+ years, the race has provided over $142,000 to local non-proft organizations. All of those contributions go back directly to the Northern Columbia community, benefiting groups such as Boy Scouts, school clubs, fire departments, libraries, food pantries, fraternal organizations, youth organizations, rescue squads, historical societies, trails and fitness. Please continue to support this truly community-based event. It’s not just about running.


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