BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND: Originally posted in 2005, this New York Times feature on watching the world's greatest race and trek has been updated for the 2014 Patch Sprint.
With the rapid rise of the Patch Sprint - the annual adventure race held each Memorial Day weekend in Willsboro, NY - has come the influx of hordes of spectators jockeying to find the best spot in which to view the epic event.
The 2014 edition of the Patch Sprint is scheduled to take place Saturday, May 24, and fans are expected to travel from as far away as England and Texas to witness the well-trained athletes racing, trekking and kinder-sprinting their way along the course.
To assist the gallery in selecting the optimum place in which to watch the race unfold, we turn to long-time Patch Sprint spectator and Willsboro native Delbert Sayward Cross:
“Oh Jee Chri let me tell you bub, that there race is one sumbitch to watch,” says Cross. “You’d think dem der racers are runnin away from a bear or deer an shit. I say to grab a cooler of ice cold Genny and a couple a beef jerkeys and enjoy ta show!”
With suggestions from Cross, the Patch Sprint committee has issued the following guide to spectators (Note- Many spectators choose to watch parts of the race from several different location. Plan accordingly.). Click on the READ MORE link to view the guide:
THE START: Located at the pillars at the entrance to the Camp Pok-O-Moonshine driveway, activity lasts throughout the morning, with three starts (8:00, 9:00. 10:00), and all the runners and trekkers passing by at the course’s midway point.
Bonus- Most convenient place to view every participant... Watch nervous racers tie, untie and re-tie their shoes before the start.
Rating: * * * *1/2
THE 1812 HOMESTEAD: Another spot where the racers appear twice, the homestead is traditionally the place along the course where the pack begins to thin out as athletes are jockeying for position. As some racers choose to stop briefly at the aid station located here, lucky spectators will get a close-up view and perhaps even an autograph.
Bonus- The opportunity to pet the sheep, look at the pig and do some shingle making.
Rating: * * * * *
MT. POK-O-MOONSHINE: This is where the Patch Sprint concludes for every division. An informal party is held each year, with snacks, beverages and a full group photograph. You will find a panoramic view of the entire Patch Sprint course and get to witness the unofficial presentation of the trophies.
Bonus- The chance to see sore, tired, lactic acid-deprived runners grunt, sweat and possibly puke. If it's anything like it was in 2013, you can also see some serious cases of Hypothermia!
Rating: * * * * *
THE BARE SPOT: This is another place where you may see the athletes pass by twice. The bare spot is located very early on the course, so the racers and trekkers are still filled with optimism. If you plan to watch from here, you need to set out well in advance of the start of the race.
Bonus- An incredible view of Long Pond; Excellent photo ops.
Rating: * * *
THE BACK SIDE OF SUGARLOAF MOUNTAIN:
You may find it extremely difficult to access this spot, but the reward comes in seeing runners and trekkers stumble, fall, get gouged by branches and find themselves hopelessly lost.
Bonus- The chance to experience a bit of the adventure race feeling of the participants.
Rating: * ½
REBER, NY: Located six miles from Willsboro, this tiny farming community with the palindromic name has many times in the past been the quitting point for racers who had strayed far off-course. Maybe 2014 will serve up another lost racer, and you can be there to witness (and help)!
Bonus- In case of rain, there are many barns to duck into for cover. If you get thirsty, there are cows to milk.
THE BASE OF POK-O: The last aid station is located here where racers and trekkers fuel up for the final push. This is also the starting point for the “Kinder-Sprint” for racers aged ten and under (11:00am). For those not wishing to climb to the finish line, this is your final chance to see the racing.
Bonus- The opportunity to talk about the Red Sox with Scotty Mac, as well as warn non-Patch Pok-O hikers what they're in for on top.
Rating: * * *1/2
ALONG THE COURSE: A quick check of the race course map will reveal several spots where the racing will be fierce and the view spectacular. Pick your spot, and inquire at the start as to what time the participants will be passing by.