Freihofer’s Race for Women Redux

by Kristen Hislop, Race Director

We received literally hundreds of comments from people who ran the race, volunteered or watched it. So, after a lot of nights being awake at 3 a.m. and up working when I can't fall back asleep because I am thinking about a detail related to the event, it really is all worth it. There is so much behind the scenes that people don't see. So much goes on before an event like this takes place on the streets of Albany. I am lucky to have volunteers who have worked with the race for years, alongside those who have just stepped in since 2020. Once you have been there and experienced it, it is hard not to return. When someone comes running up on race day after forgetting their bib at home, I rush them over to get a new bib. I try not to think - ouch – that it is a $3.50 hit to my budget. It is those little things that people don't realize. Someone writes, “I didn't come to the race. Can you just mail my shirt?” Well, at $5 a package that hits the budget hard. It is all a balancing act. I want to make the race more green. This year we gave out bibboards - reusable snaps - instead of handing out safety pins. I tried to find a sponsor who would appreciate their logo on the snaps, but with no success. Maybe a few companies will look at the photos and think about 2024! 

We know how much people love photos. At the Health and Fitness Expo and at the race we created a number of photo opportunities! We had an event photo booth provided by our sound partner - Raven Events - along with iHeart Radio's booth. Albany Braces sponsored our participant photos, which means that everyone will be getting free photos of themselves at the event (all tagged with their bib number). Of course, we will also share our event photos and video. HMRRC also had photographers on site and will be sharing photos.

                    Lizzie Predmore, Karen Bertasso-Hughes, Cara Udvadia

Sponsors and Expo

There are just so many moving parts to this event. I pulled in Nanette Hatch this year to help with sponsors, and then the Expo. That alone is a full-time job! Then we’ve added the Training Challenge. In 2010 I was asked to be the coach for a new program to get women ready for the 5K. It was based on the couch to 5K model. That first year we had 400 - - many more than we expected. Over the past 13 years we have had many continue, with others progressing to become mentors. This year I tapped two mentors to help drive the program. Eleonora Morrell and Carol Henry did an amazing job. We had 450 women in our 13th year as we added walking and run/walk tracks to the program. Once again, the Capital District Y sponsored the program and anyone signing up received a 12-week membership! That alone paid for the entry twice over (of course participants also got mentor-led workouts, a brunch, a custom shirt and an amazing experience). Of our 50 mentors probably 40% are graduates of the program! HMRRC members are welcome to join us as mentors (and receive some pretty good perks too).

Elite Athletes

You can't have the Freihofer's Run for Women without an elite field. Our attractive prize purse brings in nationally-ranked athletes. We thank the Hilton Garden Inn Albany Med for hosting our elite athletes (and the Recovery Sports Grill for giving ALL of our participants a free beer). Stephanie Rios, a local athlete profiled in Adirondack Sports and Fitness, has not traveled the elite run circuit, but together we put in place an awesome field. 7 women toeing the line had gone under 16 minutes for a 5K. We had a 2016 Olympian, Marielle Hall, and Meagan Krifchin, the winner and course record holder for the Vermont City Marathon just a week earlier. Our 2nd and 3rd place athletes from 2022 returned. Allie Kieffer and Cleo Boyd traded spots this year, running 7th and 8th. I always do a shout out to get help with our elite field. Colleen Brackett and Alyssa Risko jumped in to help shuttle athletes to the hotel. Renee Tolan and Lauren Carnahan helped wrangle the top athletes back to the tent for photos and press interviews. Jack Hislop was “voluntold” to act as morning chauffeur for the elites from the hotel. His highlight was having Tristin Van Ord, overall winner, tell him his car was really clean for a college guy!


We have to wrangle close to 400 volunteers for the event. Once again we got the best. After all, who doesn't want some Freihofer's chocolate chip cookies and a cool 'I work for NO DOUGH' shirt? Rachel Rourke returned, with help from Betsy Timoney, to make it all run smoothly. We had a number of groups and fantastic individuals (some of our Training Challenge mentors and participants) who made the week a success.

On the day before and day of the race the need was high. Brian Yates managed logistics of getting the site set up and moving on race day. Josh Merlis and his team set the course and timed the event. Craig Evans, John Sestito, Joe Skufca, Steve Jones, Reid Hislop, Jack Hislop, and Darryl Caron worked as hard as anyone running the 5k! While on course Ravi Chauhan (HMRRC President) made sure the water stops ran flawlessly. Dean Karlaftis orchestrated the refreshment tents with skill, keeping everyone fed and happy. Then we moved to the post event festivities with Tracy Perry (longtime Team Utopia runner) emceeing the awards ceremony, supported by Nouara and Thiziri Bouzidi. Wait! You think that was the end? Oh no, we also awarded the Greatest Endurance Award to Nancy Gerstenberger (93) and her family with the help of Olivia Frempong and Black Girls Run! (BGR). That was after Olivia had worked the Black Girls Run! booth at the Expo, hosted an event at the Recovery Sports Grill, sang the National Anthem, and cheered for the over 200 BGR team members (and pretty much everyone in the race)! And you say you don't have time?

Kids’ Events

But no - we weren't done. Now it was time for the kids’ events! About 450 kids hit the streets in the Capital Kids 3k and FREE Kids Runs. They got to bump fists with Osito (the Bimbo Bakeries [owner of Freihofer's] mascot ) before the start. Age group winners of the 3K went home with Balega socks! Every kid crossed the finish line and got a box of Freihofer's chocolate chip cookies and their own Osito bear!! The Capital Kids 3k participants also received bib boards with their registration, which can be 'stored' on Osito (contact us to buy Capital Kids, BGR! or FRW bib boards at

This is a small sampling of the people who make this race great - a national treasure, I dare say! So don't delay - send Nanette (yes, I have roped her into more) and me a note about how YOU want to be involved to make this event even better.

Yes - we have likely left out some key people, but please cut us slack. In a week we will be recovered!

FreiRace2023.jpgFreihofer’s Run For Women 2023

by Christine Bishop
Despite dismal weather on June 3, 2023, women happily finished the Freihofer's Race for Women. Friend ran with friend. Generations of families ran together. It was a joyous event. In addition to this article, in keeping with a new Pace Setter tradition to have news added each week, there will be a more detailed article next week with more to savor, along with hundreds of pictures from the race to browse through. For full article, click here

Freihofer’s Run for Women

by David Monti for Race Results Weekly, Albany

ALBANY, N.Y. (03-Jun) -- In wet and chilly conditions, marathoners Tristin Van Ord and Jessie Cardin took the top two spots at the 45th Freihofer's Run for Women here this morning, an unusual result for a race where track athletes have traditionally dominated. Van Ord, 28, took the lead in the second kilometer and finished in a solid 15:54, six seconds ahead of Cardin. She set a personal best and won $3000 in prize money.

"Honestly, I just wanted to run fast; that's it," Van Ord told Race Results Weekly, her long braids still glistening from this morning's rain. She continued: "I knew I didn't want to be in the lead up that first hill, so I was like whoever goes out in front I'm going to stick right behind them and see how I feel."

It was 2016 Olympian Marielle Hall who decided to lead the field of 2400 women for that first kilometer, an uphill stretch on Washington Avenue which began at the New York State Capitol Building. Hall, 31, hit the first "K" mark in 3:11 with a pack of seven women close behind, including Van Ord who ran about a step behind off of Hall's left shoulder. Van Ord, who hasn't run a road 5-K in nearly three years, was right where she wanted to be.

"I just felt really good," said Van Ord, who represents ZAP Endurance in Blowing Rock, N.C. "After the first mile I was like, this is nothing compared to the marathon."

As the race turned left into Washington Park in the second kilometer, Van Ord took the lead from Hall who stayed close behind. Cardin was trailing by about 10 meters and she, along with her Hansons-Brooks teammate Anne-Marie Blaney, were working to keep contact. Cardin, who dropped out of the Boston Marathon last April with a medical problem, was using today's race to get back into racing and rebuild her confidence.

"Honestly, Boston was my second marathon and it didn't go the way I planned, unfortunately," Cardin said. "I just kind of came today being like, I want to rip my marathon band-aid off at some point, so I wanted to make it a good one."

The roadway in Washington Park has several hills and tight turns, and the middle of the race looked more like a cross country meet. Van Ord and Hall were still together through 3-K (9:44) with Cardin a few steps back and Blaney several meters behind Cardin. Hall was in a good position, but she was feeling that something was off.

"I was trying to get out and set a fast tempo," Hall said of the first part of the race. She continued: "The legs just kind of fell out the last mile. The body didn't respond how I wanted it."

Hall began to fall behind, and was soon in fourth place. Cardin closed some of the gap on Van Ord who had a small lead at 4-K (11:20). When Van Ord turned right back on to Washington Avenue for the long, mostly downhill, sprint to the finish she was feeling strong and began to realize that she could win.

"I just kind of listened to my body and I felt good," she said. "The last, like, three minutes when I hit that I kind of peeked at my watch and it said two and a half miles. I'm good from here and I just have to roll."

Van Ord's time was a personal best by about a minute, while Cardin's time was a career best by 52 seconds. Blaney got third in 16:02, while Hall held on for fourth in 16:08. Another Hansons-Brooks athlete, Olivia Pratt, rounded out the top-5 in 16:09 putting three Hansons-Brooks women in the top-5.

For Cardin today's result was particularly important. She had to be taken to the hospital from the Boston Marathon course after falling late in the race, and emergency medical personnel detected that her heart rate was extremely slow. She feels fully recovered, but it was a scary experience that prompted some self-reflection.

"I really do believe that my gift is from God to run, and I believe it's a gift," Cardin told Race Results Weekly. "Having Boston play out the way it did I was very disappointed. A lot of tears, a lot of hard days afterwards, but I knew God allowed it to happen for a reason, and it's for His glory. So you know what? This doesn't make me any less of a runner, it doesn't make me any less-talented and less hard-working." She added: "Being able to have such success here today for such an amazing event, I want to come back here every year now."

Two hours after the start, 2389 women had crossed the finish line, up 22% from last year. The last finisher home was Nancy Gerstenberger of Albany. She is 93 years-old and clocked 1:22:23.

WOMEN (gun times) -

 1. Tristin Van Ord, 28, Blowing Rock, NC     15:54 PB $3000
 2. Jessie Cardin, 27, Rochester Hills, MI    16:00 PB 2500
 3. Anne-Marie Blaney, 29, Rochester, MI     16:02   2000
 4. Marielle Hall, 31, Providence, RI       16:08   1500
 5. Olivia Pratt, 29, Auburn Hills, MI      16:09 PB 1250
 6. Lydiah Njeri Mathathi (KEN), 37, Columbia, SC 16:16   1000
 7. Cleo Boyd (CAN), 29, Charlottesville, VA   16:17   750
 8. Allie Kieffer, 35, Austin, TX         16:32   500
 9. Melissa Lodge, 26, Providence, RI       16:43   400
10. Sheridan Wheeler, 18, Greenfield Ctr, NY   16:48 PB High School
11. Maegan Krifchin, 35, Cambridge, MA      16:51   350
12. Amanda Chambers, 23, Schenectady, NY     16:59
13. Emily Bush, 16, Saratoga Springs, NY     17:12 PB High School
14. Olivia Lomascolo, 22, Ballston Lake, NY    17:20 PB
15. Cara Udvadia, 26, Clifton Park, NY      17:30 PB
16. Abbi Raghubar*, 25, Voorheesville, NY     17:33 PB
17. Purity Munene (KEN), 36, Columbia, SC     17:57
18. Anna Steinman, 33, Springfield, MA      17:58
19. Emily Taft, 33, Albany, NY          17:58
20. Olivia Beltrani, 29, Troy, NY         18:01
21. Emily Burns, 26, Slingerlands, NY       18:03 
22. Diane Ryan, 41, Ballston Spa, NY       18:04  $1000m
23. Tricia Longo, 33, Halfmoon, NY        18:10
24. Karen Bertasso Hughes, 38, Selkirk, NY    18:14
25. Alycia Hart, 17, Gansevoort, NY        18:19
32. Jessica Charles, 41, Oriskany, NY       18:59  $800m
41. Meg Versteegen, 44, Schenectady, NY     19:17  $600m

*Formerly Abbi Wright
m = Earned masters prize money

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