Registration is now open here for four-month challenge
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a partnership between the Empire State Trail and the nationally known Boilermaker race to create the "Empire State Trail Challenge" – a four-month virtual race where participants can register and log their miles to reach milestones tied to virtual progress along the Empire State Trail.
Earlier this year, Cuomo announced completion of the trail, now the nation's longest multiuse state trail. Following New York's historic canal systems and rail trails, the new recreational trail spans the state from New York City to Canada and from Albany to Buffalo, and gives bicyclists, hikers, runners, cross-country skiers, snowshoers and others a safe and scenic pathway to experience New York state's diverse landscapes.
"The Empire State Trail Challenge brings together two giants of outdoor recreation in New York state: our new, 750-mile Empire State Trail and Utica's classic Boilermaker race," Cuomo said. "As we continue to come back from the COVID-19 health crisis, the challenge is a great way to show how we can have fun and be ‘New York Tough’ at the same time. I encourage any interested New Yorkers to participate in this exciting event on our incredible new statewide trail.”
The Boilermaker organization has held a 15-kilometer running race in Utica since 1978, which has grown into one of the largest 15K races in the country, attracting 10,000 to 15,000 participants annually. With the Boilermaker and most in-person races postponed due to COVID-19, the virtual Empire State Trail Challenge initiative will engage participants and provide a unique race experience throughout the spring season.
Boilermaker Marketing Director Jordan Peters said, "Creating opportunities for healthy activity and lifestyles lies at the core of the Boilermaker mission. So it was a natural fit to work in concert with New York state to provide New Yorkers with an opportunity to get outside and participate in a safe and healthy endeavor while highlighting the features of the Empire State Trail."
The Boilermaker Empire State Trail Challenge runs through July 31. Participants can register now and begin logging their miles walking, running or cycling on Friday, April 9. Participants would complete the mileage of at least one leg of the Empire State Trail: either the Hudson Valley Trail: 210 miles (New York City to Albany); the Erie Canalway Trail: 350 miles (Albany to Buffalo); or the Champlain Valley: 190 miles (Albany to Canada Border at Rouses Point). Participants can sign up as teams or individuals. For more information or to register, visit the website.
Although people are encouraged to the explore the actual Empire State Trail, participants can run, walk or ride anywhere geographically, on local trails and running/bicycling routes near where they live to log and complete the challenge.
Each entrant would receive a T-shirt with their $25 entrance fee for a single leg of the trail. If interested, participants can register for additional legs at the time of registration or any time during the race period at $5 per leg. Challenge participants will enter their mileage on an online platform over the duration of the race window, reaching milestones tied to virtual progress along the Empire State Trail, and have the ability to share their experiences on social media.
State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, "The Empire State Trail Challenge is one of the ways we are building back better at our state parks and trails. Our parks and trails have been safe and healthy outlets for everyone during the pandemic. Whether enjoying a fun nature break with friends and family, or truly testing their limits, the Empire State Trail Challenge offers participants of all ages and abilities a rewarding and socially distanced opportunity to enjoy New York's outdoors."
Empire State Trail Director Andy Beers said, "The partnership with the Boilermaker is a great way to introduce the Empire State Trail to those across New York state and the nation who take part in the storied race every year. The Empire State Trail is an ideal pathway for runners, bicyclists and walkers to get outside and exercise, while learning about the iconic landscapes, local communities, and historic and cultural attractions along the 750-mile trail.
New York State Executive Director of Tourism Ross D. Levi said, "The Empire State Trail is the newest jewel in New York state's tourism crown and the challenge is an opportunity to promote the trail to those looking for unique ways to experience the great outdoors. We hope that events like the Empire State Trail Challenge inspire more people to utilize the trail as a centerpiece of a getaway to the many the communities it touches across the state."
The Empire State Trail website provides access to trail information along the 750-mile route, including segment descriptions and an online map identifying off-road trails connecting on-road sections, trail distances, designated parking areas, restrooms, nearby amenities and attractions.