by Shamala Kandiah Thompson
For the last four years I’ve been lucky enough to run and take photos in Rockefeller Preserve, or the Rockies as it is affectionately known, almost every weekend and in all seasons. And this past weekend I played guide there on both Saturday and Sunday. Much of the preserve used to belong to John D. Rockefeller Jr. and was given to New York State by his family estate in the 1980s. Covering 1,400 acres, it’s wide carriage trails attract runners, walkers and equestrian enthusiasts.
On Saturday Kelly, my regular Rockies running mate, brought along her friend Anne Marie who had flown in from London the day before. Anne Marie had heard all about running in the Rockies from Kelly and was keen to experience it for herself. As guide I had to decide on a route which would give her a good feel of the place. Partly because we planned to have coffee at the Blue Hill Cafe after the run we started out from the Stone Barns complex.
I decided on an easy start which would have us heading downhill past some well-fed pigs and placid cows destined for the Blue Hill at Stone Barns menu. My aim was to connect with the Pocantico River Trail and then to head up a long steady climb to the Visitors Centre. This bit I wasn’t looking forward to. Hills are my achilles heel. But some gain strength when faced with hills. Turns out, Anne Marie is one of those runners.
For anyone who is a Rockies virgin, Swan Lake, next to the Visitors Centre, is a must-see. Ironically I’ve never seen a swan there – just turtles and assorted birds. Passing the lake en route to Stone Barns it dawned on me but that there was no way of avoiding another climb. I guided us towards what I thought was the easiest route back. Unfortunately I turned too early and directed us up one of hte longer hills. I soon succumbed to the effects of not doing harder runs in the last couple of months, slowing to my hallmark uphill crawl that’s barely indistinguishable from a walk but Anne-Marie and Kelly kept going. The only thing that kept me moving those legs was the thought of caffiene and pastry at the end of the climb.
The following day I did a walk with friends who had come up from New York City to experince Rockies for the first time. Paul, meanwhile, ran with one of them, his Warren Street team mate Sebastien B. While the Preserve is just a 35 minute train ride from mid-town Manhattan they soon discovered it is a world apart.
Our leisurely circuit walk began from Old Sleepy Hollow Road, and headed straight uphill along Farm Meadow Trail towards Swan Lake and the Visitors Centre, passed barns full of hay, cattle and farm machinery, and followed the Poncantico River back to the car. The joy of my fellow walkers reminded how lucky I was to live close enough to run here almost every week-end.