Rockland Road Runners Host Annual Women's Distance Festival

It was the 25th year of the event that raises money for the Rockland Family Shelter


Jonathan Farrell has volunteered to organize the Rockland Road Runners annual race to raise funds for the Rockland Family Shelter, but on Saturday he finally got to compete in it.

That’s because on Saturday, Farrell, vice president of the Road Runners, became the first male to run in the Rockland Road Runners’ annual Women’s Distance Festival.

“It was special, just really special for me,” he said after finishing fourth out of 500-plus competitors. “It’s just you out there running alongside all these incredibly strong and tough women, and it’s for a great cause.”

Farrell, who grew up in Nanuet but now lives in Hoboken, N.J., was allowed to run in the 5K race as part of a new wrinkle added to the race this year, now in its 25th year. He won the raffle called “One Lucky Guy,” in which male runners could purchase a raffle ticket for a chance to run in the event. Women’s Distance Festival Race Director Larry Wolf said they read about another race that ran a similar promotion and decided to try it out this year. He said they raised an additional $300 for the event through the raffle.

The event also featured a children’s run before the 5K started Saturday morning at Rockland Lake State Park. While he didn’t have a total for Saturday’s event, Wolf said in the past, the event has raised more than $15,000 in a single year for the Rockland Family Shelter.

“To bring to light the issue of violence against women has been the goal of the Rockland Family Shelter for the past 35 or 40 years,” said Carolyn Fish, executive director of the Shelter. “For the last 25 years, our message has been spread throughout the running community thanks to the Rockland Road Runners. The event is a staple of our year. With funding cuts, this event is a big help to us. We’re thrilled they’re still doing it.”

Fish said the money raised from the event goes to direct services. It’s used to continue operating a 24/7 hotline and the Shelter’s emergency services.

“Twenty-four seven, we want people to know there’s help out there,” Fish said. “All they have to do is call 845-634-3344 to reach our hotline.”

This year’s race was won by Caitrin Demchko, of Pearl River, who finished the race in a bit over 19 minutes. Demchko joined the Road Runners this year after taking some time off running. She previously ran at Pearl River High School and University of Rhode Island.

“It’s a bit slower than what I was hoping for, but for just getting back into running I’m okay with it,” she said. “It was just a great event overall and held for a great cause.”


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