All the years I live in the U.S. have been limited to New York City. Because of family obligations and such, I keep going to the same parts of the city over and over. There are places in the city, and right outside it, that I want to visit, just to see how different, or alike, things are there. When I learned that the Christmas Marathon was going to be held in Tibbetts Brook Park in Yonker, supposedly just 3 or 4 miles north of Van Cortlandt Park, Bronx, I made plans to be there. Yonker is one of those places I hear often and pass through many times but never actually go there as a destination.
Originally, I thought of taking the really long subway ride to Van Cortlandt and make the 3-mile trek from the Bronx into Yonker. It turned out I had a Christmas party on the same day and if I were to pick up a certain matriarch of the a clan she would be more likely to come. So drove I did.
For a techie person, I have an aversion for car GPS. Maybe it's because they do not work indoor so I cannot play with them at home. Instead, I have to set things up in the car, usually after a long wait for the thing to pick up satellite signal. I do not get it, Garmin makes both the car GPS and the sports watch, but the car thing always have trouble finding signal. So off I went to Tibbetts Brook Park in Yonker, Westchester, after only looking over a map on the iPad. I got onto I-80 then went west on Cross County Expressway and got off at some exit just before the Cross County split into Saw Mill River North and South. There were no sign of Tibbetts Brook Park anywhere but I knew I needed to go south to get to it. I had to stop and ask for directions, twice, and finally made it to the park. Technically, the event was to start at 11 but since it was just a fun run, any time after 9:30, when the course was marked, could serve as start time. I got there at 10 and had plenty of time to drop off a gift for the grab bag and another for the toy drive. Dressed in a full Santa suit, I started running around 10:45.
The last time I ran with the Holiday Marathons group, I totally missed a turn and did not even finish one single loop. Instead, I took a short cut, unintentionally, which made my loop about 4 miles, not the 6.5 miles of the real loop. For the Christmas Marathon, I relied mostly on the chalk marks on the ground and they were very obvious, even for someone like me, near-sighted but cannot run with glasses because they do not stay on unless I run with my head held high.
The course is both challenging and beautiful! A short distance from the start point, the runner is met with a steep hill. At the top of the hill, it's a slight descent that took a turn to the left toward the lake. One loop around the lake and the runner is back to the road that takes him back to the hilltop, including the slight ascent. The course is mostly on paved road. There was just a short distance of muddy road from the main road to the loop around the lake. Here and there there were small brooks and streams that whisper quietly in tempo with the runners' footfall and breathing. I stopped a few times to take photo of the scenery but my cell phone camera ran low on battery. Next time I will take a real camera and take more photos.
I would love to do a half-marathon (4 loops) but only had time to do 2 loops (about 6 miles). I did not think ahead and did not have any gu with me, so even if I had time it would be challenging, unless I make much use of the refreshment available, which includes bananas, oranges, and water. As luck would have it, the gift I got from the grab bag turned out to be all energy packs of various brands. Yippee!