How the Mountain Goat Became a Syracuse Tradition
As a part of an early morning fitness class at the downtown YMCA a small group of people added a jog around a few of Syracuse’s city blocks. As their fitness improved, distance was added along with four city parks covering all the highest points in Syracuse. The two highest points are the water reservoirs in Woodland and Thornden Parks. Special t-shirts proclaimed the group, “Mountain Goats”.
In April of 1978 a group of about 40 decided to run all four parks at once, a distance of about 17.5 miles. Nineteen completed the run and received special ribbons that recognized them as “Super Goats”. Eighteen ran Woodland and Lincoln parks, a little over nine miles and were dubbed, “Nanny Goats”.
YMCA Director Walt Price thought a race would be nice and plans for a true road race in 1979 were made; the “fun to Run classic” which started at Columbus Circle. Dick Charles and Rodger Bowman were the first Co-Directors and were assisted by many volunteers from YMCA programs and the Syracuse Track Club.
A 10-mile course was designed using many of the characteristics of the original route run by the Super Goats. The reservoirs were included; it was to be a tough course that worked you hard and gave you a sense of triumph when you finished.
The event included a 3000-meter run/walk to go with the 10-miler. Jeff Wells, the 1977 winner of the Honolulu marathon was the celebrity guest and ultimate winner of the first official Mountain Goat race finishing in 50:12.
Over the years other running celebrities, who include Joan Benoit in the 3000 and Benji Durden, Jeff Galloway, Jerry Lawson (Goat record holder in 48:52), Maegan Krifchin, Marion Teitsch Sears, and Kevin Collins in the 10-mile have taken part in the challenge.
The course starting line has changed a couple of times over the years, however, the Mountain Goat’s character has not. The race can be run by anyone who has the mental and physical determination to get it done. Take the challenge and wear the Mountain Goat colors with pride.