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Summer Twilight Track Series Still Running Strong

SOMERS – Twenty nine years after its inception, the Westchester Summer Twilight Track & Field Series continues to give children and adults a chance to push themselves to the limit. Three meets in the series have already been held this month and three more meets will take place in the coming weeks.

One of the program’s directors is the man who started it, Somers High School Track Coach Roy Arneson. “It started in 1982 at Kings College and it moved to Somers when I started coaching there in 1985,” Arneson recalled.

Arneson said that prior to that another summer track series with the same name was held in White Plains for about 10 years. When that series lost its corporate sponsorship and got shut down, Arneson took the initiative to continue the concept. “I talked to the original group and asked if they cared about [keeping] the name and they said no, so we took the name over,” Arneson said.

The series is sponsored by Cortlandt Parks and Recreation and held in conjunction with the Taconic Road Runners, their insuring body. Arneson was joined by Yorktown High School track coach Keith Smith and Hendrick Hudson High School track coach Marcia Bailey in 1987, and the three have been running the meets together since then.

This year’s first meets were held at Hendrick Hudson High School on July 5, 12, 19 and the upcoming meets will be held at Somers High School on July 26 and August 2 and 9. The entry fee is $5 per event or $6 to compete in unlimited events. Youth events begin at 4:30 p.m. and include dashes and several distance runs, hurdles and relays, as well as field events such as Long Jump, High Jump, discus and shot put. The high school and open [adult] events begin at 6:30 p.m. and include many of the same events and some others such as 5,000 meter and two mile runs and the pole vault.

“We do all the field events, and that’s something that separates us from the other meets,” Arneson said.

Another part of the series is The Taconic Road Runners (T.R.R.C.) Track Series. The races include the 100, 200, 400, 800, 1,600, and 5,000 meter runs. The winner of the series must be a TRRC member. The TRRC is the insuring body for the meets. Ribbons are awarded to the top three finishers in all adult events and to all competitors in youth events. Team trophies are awarded to the top three youth teams with most points at all six meets. A team trophy goes to the adult team with the most points at all six meets. The events attract people of all ages, including many who have never run a race of any distance before and are curious to give it a try.

“A lot of times guys will come and bring their kids for the 4:30 session and they’ll say, ‘I used to run or I want to run’, and they’ll start coming to the 6:30 sessions," Arneson said.

Arneson said the program has helped prepare many of the area’s top runners before they were even old enough to start running in middle school. “It’s become a rite of passage for a lot of younger runners,” Arneson said. “There are kids who have been coming to the meets for seven, eight, even nine years.”

For more info on the series and the full listing of events and age groups, go to www.runner.org/twilight or contact Roy Arnesen at (845) 416-8075.

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