KATONAH, N.Y. — Bright and early Saturday morning, dedicated runners will be on their marks for the Katonah 5K Road and Trail Race.
Sponsored by the Katonah Chamber of Commerce and the Bedford Hills Chamber of Commerce, the race donates the proceeds from runners' entry fees to a different charitable cause each year. This year's charity theme is “Runners for Reading,” and the money will go to the Katonah Village Library and the Bedford Hills Free Library, both of which have suffered budget cuts.
Organizing fundraising events for the library takes “a lot of effort and time to accomplish, so we were delighted when this was offered,” said Rhoda Gushue, director of the Bedford Hills Free Library.
The race's 3.1 mile rolling, scenic route begins at Katonah Elementary School, meanders through the hamlet's quaint side streets, then heads into the Katonah Memorial Park trails and finally back to the school.
In addition to the 5K, the event will have races for youngsters who may not be able to handle all 5 kilometers: the one-miler for ages 7 through 12 and a race around the elementary school's driveway loop for ages 3 to 6.
Last year the race began at the park, said organizer and veteran marathoner Bettina Sementilli, who owns Cross Sport Woman in Katonah. While this year’s route is a bit different, she said, it is still a good mix of roads and trails. "Trails are really nice, because they're a little softer on your legs and feet," she said.
Annie Bai, a lawyer and runner from Bedford Hills, served as the race's co-organizer this year along with Frank Greene and Mike Bernadino. Sementilli who helped sponsor the race last year, met Bai at a running clinic she offers through her store. Bai, at the time, was a novice runner but quickly became hooked.
“Everything we do costs more money every year, and each year we’re working with less,” Gushue said.
Tying into the theme of supporting libraries and young readers, runners are also encouraged to bring a gently used book on Saturday to donate to the Open Door Family Medical Centers' early literacy program, "Reach Out and Read."