Briarcliff Manor boasts a multitude of trails ideal for biking, hiking and running as well as a large population of residents who enjoy utilizing those trails. But sometimes people need a little motivation to get out there and run. That’s where the Briarcliff Manor Running Club (BMRC) comes in. Established in 2020, the club has become an incredible way for people to meet others, explore new trails and connect over a shared passion.
I recently spoke with Brian Harkins and Craig Motz, two of its coaches, about the club and some of its plans for the near future.
The BMRC was established in October 2020 when Harkins spoke with the Recreation Department about creating a running club for the community. “There’s so many trails, paths and resources, we thought it would be fun to open up a group to explore and take advantage of what’s right in our own backyard.” Along with Motz, two additional coaches, Maria Kucheryavaya and Davey Gibian jumped on board and the BMRC was born. “Craig had just moved to the area, as did Maria and Davey during the pandemic, and they were looking to connect with like-minded people with a passion for running and outdoor activities. We got together and started throwing ideas around of what the group would look like, and its grown from there.”
What began with the initial sending of one community-wide email and having 10 runners show up the first day, has now turned into a list of 75 runners. It was an organic, grassroots process to building these relationships, including by word-of-mouth. Motz shares, “We send an email each week with a new running location. We want to keep it fresh. Doing the same loop over and over can be kind of mind-numbing and we want to keep doing new routes.”
The group has meet-ups twice per week–8:00 a.m. on Saturdays and 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays. They meet at various locations and average 3-6 mile runs. “We do everything from beginner to intermediate with options to shorten or lengthen your run as needed”, says Motz.
Both Harkins and Motz have some favorite trails in the area. “We take full advantage of the Rockefeller Preserve”, says Motz. “13 Bridges, Swan Lake, Buttermilk Hill–it’s beautiful.” The group also runs the North County Trail up to Millwood, Rockwood Hall, Old Croton Aqueduct and even the hilly roads throughout the village. All of the coaches live in the Briarcliff area and have found it to be a great place to set down roots. “The schools, parks and the outdoor activities attracted us”, says Motz, who lives in town with his wife and young son Miles. “The area has a lot to offer in terms of community and raising a family here–we’ve met some really great people and families through the running club.” Harkins, who’s lived in Briarcliff for seven years, wholeheartedly agrees.
The creation of the BMRC has led to many new connections and opportunities for everyone involved. They’ve started participating in various races throughout the area including the Sleepy Hollow Half Marathon, Sleepy Hollow10K and The Leatherman’s Loop in Cross River and have also collaborated with the Croton and Rivertown clubs. “There are lots of people training for the NYC Marathon, as well as other races in the area and we’re here to help everyone. We are trying to connect everyone as well as promote local races and create new ones”, says Motz.
Harkins is planning some upcoming informational sessions as well. “We’re thinking of putting together some sessions on nutrition, training habits, sleep and recovery. We’d like to have a physical therapist come to provide information on stretching and exercises.”
There’s also talk of working with the Village to hopefully establish a 5K race this fall.
Harkins continues, “The initial thought for the club was that there were so many resources and so many great people running on their own but I’d hear people say, I wish could run more but need motivation. Getting a group together helps people be more accountable–even for myself.” The BMRC has even created a Couch to 5K program for runners of all abilities. “People from all walks of life joined and they all developed friendships–I was very happy to see all the people come together”, said Harkins. “Some joined the club from never having run at all.”
The BMRC and its coaches are happy to introduce residents to one another and to different parts of the area, including its amazing trails. As Harkins says, “People who have lived here for so long will say they never knew some of these trails existed.” Creating connections and keeping things fresh are two of the things the Briarcliff Manor Running Club does best.
For more information please visit the BMRC social media channels.