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Kopac's Corner

Dutchess County Classic 2002 Road Warriors

by Bob Kopac

The 2002 Dutchess County Classic was a well-run event, made possible by dozens of selfless volunteers. Although there were volunteers in many different areas, this article gives thanks to the traffic-control volunteers by identifying the volunteers at each intersection and telling some of the volunteers' experiences.

NOTE: Over 33% of the traffic-control volunteers were my co-workers. There were many other non-MHRRC traffic control volunteers. It would be hoped that more MHRRC members would help with traffic control.

Paul Cassitto, Dutchess County Classic director and also pre-race traffic-control director. When no one from the club stepped forward to be the traffic control director, the Classic director arranged the parade permits, road closings, and police protection. Paul has enough to do as Classic director without having to do pre-race traffic control. Here is your opportunity to volunteer next year and still run the race.

Kenny Odmann and Ralph Cassitto, race-day traffic-control directors. At 7 AM the day of the race, Kenny (Paul's friend) and Ralph (Paul's father) learned the responsibilities of the race-day traffic control director. Talk about being under the gun! Kenny and Ralph drove the course ahead of the runners, making sure volunteers were at the assigned intersections and handing out vests, flags, and walkie-talkies. Then, they swept the course...no, not with a broom.

Dick Hall, pre-race traffic cones. Runners, did you notice the many cones along the course? Each year Dick Hall places all those cones on the course for your safety before he runs the half marathon.

Pat DeHaven, CAUTION-RUNNERS-ON-THE-ROAD signs and checking on runners. Pre-race, I drove Pat around the course so he could put up the caution signs. After finishing the half marathon and coming in first in his age category, Pat drove with me around the course asking the ending runners if they needed help. Post-race, I drove Pat around so he could pick up all the caution signs. A triathlon?

Peter Curtis, checking on runners. Elite 5K runner Peter Curtis ran the 5K then swept the course looking for runners in trouble as he picked up empty water jugs from the water stops

PJ Darcy, 30-MPH signs on Noxon Road and Arthursburg Road. PJ put up all the signs, and then worked an intersection. Do the signs help? Some say people do not read nowadays, but the volunteers along Noxon Road and Arthursburg Road felt the 30-MPH signs were beneficial.

Ed Willett and Brian Willett, Robinson Lane and Paulette Lane. Ed said he enjoyed cheering the 5K runners as they came back. The 5K is an out-and-back race, and Ed and Brian were a mile from the Recreation Center.

Jen Darcy, 5K turnaround. Jen said 3 people asked for split times, but she was at her spot before the race started. Runners should not want the times...or the post...or the daily news, since the Poughkeepsie Journal sponsors the Classic.

PJ Darcy, then Rob Clark, Robinson Lane and service road behind Route 376 plaza. Last year I noticed several cars sneaking onto Robinson Lane by using the service road. This year, PJ Darcy and then Rob Clark laid down the law. PJ said one woman had been told by the policeman to turn around. As she approached PJ's position on Robinson Lane, it seemed like she was going to go straight ahead. PJ pretended his cell phone was a walkie-talkie. When the motorist saw that, she turned around. Little did she know PJ was probably saying, "Kirk to Enterprise."

Rob said there were about a half dozen drivers here. Some lived on Robinson Lane, and some wanted to see people at the Recreation Center. At least that is what they said. Next year I will let the volunteer use a lie detector machine.

Eileen Sylvia and Brian Murray, Robinson Lane and Route 376. Eileen Sylvia worked registration, then drove to this intersection to work traffic control, and then drove back to help out at the finish line towards the end of the marathon. She said runners who had completed the race and who were driving home thanked her for being there.

Brian said one runner told him, "Tell the race director this is an AWESOME race, dude!" I wonder how many runners came from California?

Nancy Swanson, Van Wyck High School. A mother of one of the runners stood at Nancy's position. The mother said she was astounded that so many runners said "Thank you!" to the volunteers. Nancy had a suggestion: the volunteer bikers should wear identification that they were Classic volunteers. She said she saw several bikers but did not know if they were volunteers or just bikers out for a ride.

Bill Fil and Rob Kurth, Hillside Lake Road and the 1st Brandy Lane. Bill Fil said that all drivers were cooperative except one. However, when Bill explained the situation, the driver became cooperative. Bill must have taken the Dale Carnegie course in public speaking.

Rob Kurth said, "My only impression is that the one-way traffic plan is great but needs to be enforced. And, Bill Fil should be Secretary of Labor." Next year, we'll ask volunteers to write down the license plates of any driver who refuses to obey the road closing and then report the drivers to the police. As to Secretary of Labor, I'll see what I can do.

Elva Girton, Hillside Lake Road. and Larchmont. Elva has staffed this intersection for the past several years. She said there was less traffic this year. Perhaps Elva has trained motorists to know about the race. No, that can't be it-drivers are oblivious. Elva said the traffic control vests help because they show authority. So does a gun.

Phil, Becky, Michael, and Monica Marrone, Hillside Lake Road and 2nd Brandy Lane. Phil and his children had a fun time at this intersection. Originally they were going to work half the race, but they stayed the entire time to cheer on the runners.

Barbara and Deanna Pignataro, Brandy Lane and Jennifer Lane. They have worked this intersection for the past several years. There were no problems here, as all runners made the turn, even the zoned-out marathoners.

Tony Pignataro and Jim Ventura, Hillside Lake Road and Clove Branch Road. Jim reported that there was no rain downpour at their intersection. Don't tell the volunteers on Robinson Lane and Lauer Road who had heavy rain. Tony and Jim reported that most drivers were nice, except for one driver who was angry that we had no signs at Route 82 and Clove Branch Road warning him that there was traffic delays ahead. Well, actually, I had posted TWO 1'x2' signs, in red, at Route 82 and Clove Branch Road warning about traffic delays and telling motorists to use Route 82 to Lake Walton Road. I saw red; how can we can make that motorist see red?

Anna Ryan and Omar De La Cruz, Jennifer Lane and Hillside Lake Road. Omar said he threw himself in front of a few cars to protect the runners. He said the runners were great. Anna said that everything went well except for the damp weather. She asked, "Can't you do anything about it?" I had: I had dictated that it only drizzle on Hillside Lake Road.

Ozgur Turkmen, Hillside Lake Road and Crown Hill Road. Ozgur said it seemed over 200 runners thanked him for being there.

Rich Iraca and Shelly Iraca-Roberts, Hillside Lake Road and Summit Road. Rich and Shelly drove all the way from Mount Tremper, NY, to volunteer. Rich said it was a nice experience-they were able to see all the people they knew. He said he held up traffic a little too long because he did not know who was the last half marathoner. [The sweep bike for the half marathon never showed up.] Rich said everything at the intersection was "smooth." Unlike Tina Turner's "Proud Mary" which is nice and rough, we like the Classic to be nice and smooth.

Joe Connelly and Julia Rivera, Hillside Lake Road and N. Hillside Lake Road. Based on experience, we assigned two volunteers at the exit of the massive warren of bungalows that surround Hillside Lake. Joe said it was fine except for a couple of "boneheads."

Pat and Chris Sell, Hillside Lake Road and James Dorland Drive. Chris massaged the leg of a cramping runner and was gratified to see the runner later at the finish line. Pat said it only drizzled at their intersection. She knew it had poured elsewhere because of the sound of the marathoners' squishy shoes.

Dan Gritter and Visda Vokhshoori, Hillside Lake Road and Rolling Green Lane. Dan said that runners were running on both sides of Hillside Lake Road, even though we had shut down only one side. Dan also said, "Cars were not acting appropriately." Any suggestions on how to handle these runners and motorists?

Charlie Mosco and Steve Perks, Hillside Lake Road and Arthursburg Road. When perennial volunteer Ken Hack had to be out of town this year, water stop coach Steve Perks volunteered to help Charlie with traffic control here. Charlie told all runners to stay on the left side of the road because traffic was active in both directions. Quiz: did runners listen?

John Muller and Bob Rother, Arthursburg Road and Noxon Road. Answer to the quiz: John said that about 30 runners ran on the RIGHT side of Arthursburg Road and then cut over to the left at the bridge. Nobody listens. Bob Rother said he never needed to cut over when he ran the Classic. Must be the new Xtreme generation.

Nivo Rovedo and Diane Buscaglia, Noxon Road and Dutchess Farms Road. Diane told me, "I enjoyed it!" She said she held up the "SLOW" sign to the drivers, but they did not listen. No one reads nowadays.

Nivo said that a lot of runners cross Noxon Road wherever they feel like it. Some crossed back and forth several times. Nivo suggested we put cones all along Noxon Road. Good idea, although I think runners still will ignore the cones. Maybe we need cattle prods?

Barb Clark, Noxon Road and Vincent Road and Beth Moses, Noxon Road and Kinkead Lane. Barb said she and Beth would stop a car, but the cars behind that car would go around the stopped car. Barb suffered an injury at her intersection. It was raining hard, she had her head down, and she walked into a branch. Keep your chin up, Barb!

Jim Johnston and Jennifer Ellis, Noxon Road and Stringham Road. Jim worked here for the second year in a row. He reported no problems. Jennifer recommended each volunteer have a SLOW/STOP sign instead of a flag. She would motion with her flag to have motorists slow down, but they would just wave back. Maybe they thought it was Flag Day.

Jim Williamson (CEO and president of United Way), Stringham Road and Memory Lane. I believe he is the first CEO to work traffic control! I called Jim the night before the race, and he graciously agreed to handle this intersection. Jim said he had a lot of fun.

Howard Becker, Stringham Road and Ehmer Road. Howard did double duty. First he handled parking at the Wappingers Recreation Center. Then he handled traffic control at this intersection. He said the parking volunteers at the Recreation Center were so protective of the runners, he had a hard time getting out of the park to get to his intersection.

Johnnie Lee and Lynne Kopac, Stringham Road and Todd Hill Road (east and west). Johnnie and Lynne used walkie-talkies to communicate with each other at this offset intersection. Communicate-and commiserate-as they handled the traffic for multiple soccer games that started during the second loop of the marathon. Johnnie has worked this intersection for several years. Johnnie said it would be very quiet, then suddenly there would be lots of traffic.

Lynne said people drove on Todd Hill Road as if they were still on the Taconic Parkway. Lynne said she is glad she lives in Dutchess County because so many people asked her how to get to the Taconic and to restaurants.

Sylvia Sutton and Tom Gibbons, Route 55 and Stringham Road. Tom said that hopefully he will be able to run the race next year. If so, we will need another volunteer here. Sylvia said the position was "pretty smooth" this year. She was amused when a runner told her, "Don't tell me 'Good job!' I don't want to hear it!"

Jean Sylvester and Cathy Temple, entrance Full Gospel Church. Jean said the only problem was when she motioned to have the churchgoers leave the church and turn onto Route 55, they went too slowly. Normally volunteers complain because cars go too fast, not too slow!

Bruce Wagar and Ceil Collopy, Route 55 and Lauer Road. Bruce said the policeman assigned to this intersection was excellent; he made the intersection much easier this year. Neither Bruce nor Ceil mentioned the flattened dead skunk at the intersection. At least I thought it was a skunk, as black fur drifted in the wind as more cars drove over the remains.

Ceil is the race director of the Saint Joe's Jog. She had called me to rent MHRRC club equipment, and she graciously volunteered to help at an intersection after I begged and pleaded. Around Classic time, anyone who calls our house is fair game. Pay heed, telemarketers!

Linda Bodley, Helen Chorney, and David Bishop, Lauer Road and Todd Hill Road. David was a spectator who ended up staying 4 hours at the intersection-a potential volunteer for next year! Linda says she is very protective of the runners. She had to jump in front of a car this year as the driver was speeding down Todd Hill Road towards 25 runners. David yelled, "He's not going to stop!" Linda replied, "Oh yes he is!" The car slid and stopped 3 feet from Linda's body. Linda said that was nothing. She said one year a car stopped 6 inches from her. Note 1: Volunteers, this is not recommended. Note 2: Don't tell her husband Claude!

Jordi and Laura Douglas and family. This is the fifth year that Lucas has been a Classic volunteer at this intersection. Lucas is almost 4 years old (think about it), and now has a sibling helper. We recruit them early! Jordi said his family had an easier time with the rain than the runners did. Jordi said, "We wind up with no voices [from cheering the runners] but go away with good feelings!"

Jonathan Heiles. Noxon Road and Lauer Road. Policemen, policemen, everywhere, and not a one to link... up with Jonathan. Last year we had a policeman at Noxon Road and Lauer Road to help runners get to the other side. (Supply your own punch line here.) This year, we had police at Noxon Road-Stringham Road and Noxon Road-Robinson Lane, but not at Noxon Road and Lauer Road. Will we make this mistake next year? To quote President Bush Sr., "Not gonna happen. Wouldn't be prudent." Jonathan said the rain made the cars speed up for some reason.

Bonnie Nussbickel and Russ Voigtlaender, Noxon Road and Robinson Lane. Russ, my former manager, drove all the way down from Kingston to volunteer. He arrived at 8 AM, far ahead of schedule. Russ said the weather was interesting-first drizzle, then dry and humid, then downpour. He told the runners to run up to the Elvis impersonators at the next intersection and dance with them. Many did-a duathlon?

Bonnie said the police officer at this intersection was very helpful. He parked his vehicle in the middle of the road with its lights flashing. When the officer had to leave at noon, Bonnie told the officer to just leave his vehicle and uniform. Talk about flashing!

Phil Sylvester, Noxon Road and Didell Road. Phil said everything was fine, except one driver blew her horn because a crazy driver stopped suddenly to photograph the Elvis impersonators. Hey, I just HAD to get a photograph!

There were many, many more volunteers, not named here, who worked registration, finish line, water stops, cleanup, etc. All these volunteers were the reason why the Classic was safe and well run. Yes, pun intended.