GREENPORT — Runners braved chilly weather at the Olana State Historic Site on Sunday for the 11th annual Barry Hopkins Memorial Run, held in honor of the late Catskill art teacher who loved running at the site.
The 3.8-mile run started in September 2007 as a tribute to Barry Hopkins, who died at 59 of Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the run’s co-director, Kathleen Balthazar, said, adding she and co-director Rich Gromek combined their two separate races into one in 2008.
“We decided to combine races and thus came up with the Barry Hopkins Run,” Balthazar said.
Hopkins started the Bilbo Frodo Birthday Run in 1978, dedicated to the characters from J.R.R. Tolkien’s books “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings,” Balthazar said. For the run’s 10th anniversary last year, organizers had a cake for Bilbo and Frodo’s birthdays.
“He introduced me to Tolkien’s work and our awards are Tolkien-based,” Balthazar said of Barry Hopkins.
Hopkins ran at Olana on a weekly basis and had a tree at Olana planted in his memory near Fredric Church’s palatial home, Balthazar said.
“This was his favorite place to run,” she said.
Every year, Balthazar enjoys the excitement during the shorter 1K run for children and the atmosphere of Olana, she said, adding Barry Hopkins remains influential to her.
“I became a runner because of him, I became a teacher because of him,” Balthazar said.
Before the runners kicked off, Balthazar warned them of trolls lurking on the grounds, referencing Hopkins’ love of Tolkien’s books.
“What will help you are the elves and the Hobbits. You see them, you’re safe,” she said.
When the awards were handed out to the runners, Hopkins’ widow Karen spoke about her husband’s love of running and Olana.
“He loved to introduce people to running at Olana, so this was the perfect way to make his memory go on and on and on,” Karen Hopkins said. “There are always new people that come to this race and we’re very happy there are, and you find the joys of running here.”
The first place awards were made of wood and painted, and second and third place winners recieved a sketchbook because Hopkins was an avid journal keeper, Karen Hopkins said.
“If you want to use it as an art book, a running journal, go for it,” she said.
Zury Oates, of Saugerties, won Sunday’s run and has been participating in it since 2011, he said, adding he enjoys the scenery of Olana.
“It’s different because it’s cross country and road,” Oates said. “There’s a lot of stuff going on.”
The run is well organized and provides beautiful scenery for participants, Faithe Anderson, of Saugerties, said, adding this year marks her second time participating.
“The whole vibe is nice,” she said.
Anderson didn’t require much training to prepare for Sunday’s run, she said.
“We just run a lot,” Anderson said. “We actually use this as a training race for other races.”
Chris Gallo, of Kingston, has participated in the run for six years and his daughter races in the children’s run, he said, adding it’s a great family-friendly environment.
“A lot of good people come out and do this run,” Gallo said.
Gallo didn’t know Barry Hopkins, but always learns about him during the run, he said.
“Every year I come here, I learn a little more,” he said.
The run is a family affair for Beth Golden, of Warwick, as she participates with her partner, his son and her father who lives nearby, she said, adding she has participated for two years and appreciates the scenery.
“It’s a beautiful course,” Golden said.
To reach reporter Daniel Zuckerman, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @DZuckerman_CGM.