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HomeProfessionalHigh Country's Van Ord No. 1 in historic Albany, N.Y. road race

High Country’s Van Ord No. 1 in historic Albany, N.Y. road race

By David Rogers. ALBANY, N.Y. — Over hill and dale, Tristin Van Ord of Blowing Rock-based ZAP Endurance won the historic Freihofer’s Run for Women on June 3, finishing the arduous road race course in 15:54.00 and ahead of second place Jessie Cardin of Rochester Hills, Mich. by six seconds. With the win, Van Ord took home $3,000 in first place prize money.

Although Van Ord faced stiff competition from a large number of female athletes representing professional race teams looking to earn prize money, the 45th annual event celebrating women and raising money to support breast cancer research greeted almost 2,500 competitors. The youngest was 7-yearold Natalie Newton (27:01.00) of Cohoes, N.Y., while the oldest was Nancy Gerstenberger, 93 (1:22:23.00), of Albany.

According to ZAP Endurance head coach Pete Rea, Van Ord’s net time was only 12 seconds slower than her personal best for a 5K run on a track.

“Running this distance in a road race, especially on a course like the won in downtown Albany, is a lot more challenging than running the entire distance on a flat track oval in a stadium,” said Rea. “That Tristan was able to run this 5K just 12 seconds off her personal best on the oval says a lot about where she has progressed in her training.”

For Rea, he admits that Van Ord’s win at the Freihofer’s event is an emotional moment — for him.

“Growing up in Connecticut, my mother is responsible for getting me into competitive running,” Rea said, reflectively, about what turned out to be a career decision for him, a career that included a stellar four years running in high school and then on to compete for the University of Connecticut . “When I was a kid, she belonged to a running club in our hometown, Farmington. For over 30 years, she and several of the club members would go over to Albany to run in the Freihofer’s Bakery Run for Women race that brought attention to breast cancer research.

“When Tristin got invited to compete in this race,” Rea added, “I told her she should go because it really is an historic event that attracts some really top notch athletes and they have pretty good prize money for the professionals. You can tell by the big smile as she crossed the finish line that she is happy she made the decision to make this trip.”

Next Up for Van Ord

As it turns out, Van Ord will stay in New York and race on June 10 against even tougher competition at a longer distance, running in the Mastercard New York Mini 10K For Women in, around through Manhattan’s iconic Central Park, including a sweep by the Guggenheim Museum and finishing near the famous Tavern on the Green Restaurant.

The first edition of the New York Mini 10K was in 1972, and won by the USA’s Jacqueline Marsh Dixon in 37:01.7. Organized by the New York Road Runners, the race has been run every year since except for a one-year hiatus in 2020 because of COVID-19. The 2022 edition of the race was won by Senbere Teferi of Ethiopia in 30:43. The course record of 30:28.6 was set by Morroco’s Asmae LeghZaoui in 2002. The last American to win the race was Sara Hall in 2021 (31:33). Hall also won the 2019 race (32:27).

Officially, Van Ord’s personal record (35:35)  for 10-kilometers (on a track oval) was back in 2018, in Charleston, S.C., when she was competing for Appalachian State.

“That was so long ago,” said Rea, “and a bit outdated for where Tristin is now because while she has not competed in a 10K race since then, she has been well under that mark in just the first 10K of a full marathon. For anyone who has been to Central Park, they will know that while it is a beautiful venue, there are elevation changes and sharp turns in several places so it is a challenging course. We are looking for Tristin to run 16:15 for each half of the race, so that would put her into the finish at around 32:30.”

The New York Mini is advertised by the New York Road Runners as “the world’s first women-only road race.” According to the NYRR website, “… event founder Fred Lebow named the race after the miniskirt, which back then was in vogue.”

The first event was called the Crazylegs Mini Marathon, reflecting the sponsorship of a Johnson Wax women’s shaving gel product branded as Crazylegs. Through the years, other companies and their products have carried the title sponsor banner, including Bonne Bell cosmetics, Oakley, and Advil that we could find. Now and for the forseeable future, the event bears the Mastercard name.





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