The hills of the Ronkonkoma Moraine have been around for thousands of years. I’m sure many a conveyance has trekked up and down its steep paths. There is no written history of what has transpired on these streets called Adirondack, Berkshire, Rosemont, and Blue Point. What we do know is that at some point long ago, a group of tough as nails athletes decided to chart a course through these mean street to train their bodies into finely tuned running machines.
A man named Rich Hollmann, now in his mid 80’s, helped design a 10 kilometer course attempting to incorporate as many hills as possible. By the summer of 2010 the hills of Selden had become neglected by the running community. GLIRC was about to retire the training run posting in its monthly publication to make room for other group runs that were active and in need of exposure. I found out about this at a time in my running career where I was finally ready to add some hill work into my training. Like most of the runners I knew, hill running just wasn’t pleasant. You would do hill repeats over and over if you were lucky enough to live or train near some. I contacted Rich and he told me about the hills of Selden.
He said you had to experience them.
Talking about them did not do it justice. He said no one from his group ran them any longer, but he would gladly send me a detailed map of the course. I received it in the mail and went right out to drive the course with my wife Nancy first. GULP!! My heart raced, “what did I get myself into?” Nancy tried to dissuade me but there was no turning back. I had already found a willing running partner who I had just met at the LIMA 5K in early June 2010. I thought if Maryann Harkins was willing to give it a try then so was I!
We studied the course map and took off one Wednesday afternoon at 4:30PM. It was about 80 degrees and humid. By the time we were finished we were just glad to be still standing on our feet! We said we were crazy and would never do this again! By that weekend we recovered, and as most runners do we forgot how painful it was and went back out again the following Wednesday…and every Wednesday after that. Without each other’s motivation and inspiration we would not have continued training on this awesome course. Slowly but surely others came out to join us. A core group of about 20 warriors braved all kinds of conditions to meet the challenge of the terrain as well as the elements.
The group is now thriving with over 800 members doing the hard work at all times of the day and all days of the week! We went from a rag tag group to one that now sports team in training singlets and sweatshirts. We now schedule fun group activities like Birthday Runs, Prediction Runs, and Double and triple loop events. We also run three additional courses, the Slaughterhouse 15K, the Meatgrinder 20K and the 25K Scream Machine! The future looks bright for the Selden “hillbillies” as we refer to ourselves now. I hope there are many more chapters in our vibrant future. We sport young and not so young…swift and not so swift. These things do not matter. We welcome all who wish to feel the sense of accomplishment that those in the group feel every time they touch that light pole that signals the completion of your hilly journey. Come run the hills of the “Seven Sisters” and live the metaphor, “Running is life!”