CROSS RIVER, N.Y. – Now in its 26th year, the Leatherman’s Loop 10K Trail Run, held annually at the Ward Pound Ridge Preservation, has become so big that organizers now have to use a lottery system for participants to sign up.
“The reason we are shifting to a lottery is because the demand for running spots has outstripped supply for the past five years,” said Rob Cummings, assistant race director and webmaster of the race, which has become the largest trail race on the East Coast. “Each year the open registration has been open for a shorter and shorter time. In 2007, it took three months to fill while last year it took just 20 minutes to fill the open spots.
Registration for the lottery has begun and will continue through Monday. Runners can go to the race's website to learn more and sign-up for the lottery. Groups of people can sign up together so they don’t have to worry about anyone getting left out. The race itself, which has been directed by Mike Palleta since 2008, takes place on Sunday, April 22 at 9 a.m.
“We get a lot of local runners – over 80 last year from Lewisboro alone,” Cummings said.
In 2011, more than 1,100 runners finished the race. The Loop was first run in 1987 with just under 100 runners. Cummings said the 10 kilometer race, which translates to 6.2 miles, is sort of cross between a cross country race and a steeple chase.
“It goes through the trails and crosses the Cross River and that’s sort of the draw,” he said. “It’s more like a steeple chase, where you run a course that has a number of obstacles and water traps. It has the natural feature of trails like rocks, leaves and stumps. There are places where it’s extremely muddy and people have lost their shoes and we have found them the next year.”
Cummings said the race, which crosses between the towns of Lewisboro and Pound Ridge, differs every year thanks to the unpredictable weather that April brings. Sometimes it’s 80 degrees and muggy; other years it’s been 40 degrees and rainy.
“We are shooting for 1,100 this year but you never know how many you will get,” he said. “About 10 percent who sign up don’t come, especially if it’s a particularly nasty day.”
Coming back in 2012 will be last year’s winner, Tommy Nohilly. Nohilly has won the race seven out of the last eight years. In 2007, he finished second. Nohilly, a Goldens Bridge resident, was on the U.S. National Steeple Chase team and is the coach of the boys’ cross country team at John Jay High School.
Also returning will be Cindy Davis, the race’s first women’s division winner, who will run the race this time along with her two sons.
The race was named after the legendary local character, the Leatherman, who in the mid-19th century wandered a 365-mile loop around Westchester and Putnam counties.