40th annual Freihofer's Run for Women held in Albany

June 02, 2018 07:01 PM

ALBANY - For some runners, the Freihofer’s Run for Women is about competition. But for most of them, it's about camaraderie and clean, healthy living.

“It was anyone's race kind of and that's always fun to come into,” said Sarah Pagano.


The 26-year-old New Jersey native says she's had Freihofer’s on her running radar screen ever since she graduated from Syracuse University. When she crossed the finish line first on Saturday morning, three former Olympians finished behind her.

“Upstate New York is kind of like a home to me so it feels very familiar coming back,” she said.

Jennifer Rhines, 43, is a three-time Olympian. Admittedly past her prime when it comes to competing with the world's elite, she was still good enough to win the Freihofer’s Master's Division.

“I still enjoy challenging myself to do the best I can and that's something everyone can do," she said. "I kind of like sharing that with people and also my role as a mentor to some of the younger women."

One of the special features of the Freihofer’s Run for Women is that housewives and high school students are running side-by-side with Olympic athletes. It's not just sweat that's rubbing off -- it's a great deal of inspiration as well.

Long before the girls’ track and field team from Colonie High School arrived at the run, they read up on many of the elite women with whom they'd share the pavement in downtown Albany. That's how 13-year old Molly Lamendola became a fan of the legendary Joan Benoit Samuelson.

“I heard her story and how she was really motivated and it made me want to get out there and start running,” Lamendola said.

“It's really cool because when you see one of them you want to try to go up with them and stay with them and it makes you want to go faster,” added Mackenzie Travis.

 “Our sport is a two-way road. Everybody inspires everybody else,” Samuelson said.

Those are humble words of an Olympic champion that are heard loudly and clearly by 14-year-old Emma Gevfert.

“If I was going up against McKenzie, I'm not trying to beat McKenzie. I'm trying to motivate McKenzie,” Gevfert said.

“It's just a wonderful coming together and I credit Freihofer’s for giving women an opportunity way before we had a lot of opportunity,” Samuelson said.

In a race like Freihofer’s, every runner becomes a role model.


WNYT Staff

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