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The Woman Behind Sleepy Hollow's Running World

Kristen Idalski was never a runner. "Only if I was being chased," she jokes. Now, she not only runs marathons herself, she also "runs" most of the running world in Sleepy Hollow, getting hundreds of people out onto the streets for training runs and races.

The turning point came in 2007 when Idalski accompanied a friend to the Country Music Marathon in Tennessee. "I was completely inspired by her, and how she and everyone else was transformed over the course of the race." Idalski immediately signed up for the Chicago Marathon, running for Fred's Team, a charity that raises funds for cancer in memory of a friend who had died from the disease.

She couldn't have picked a worse race for her debut — that was the year temperatures climbed into the 90s, water on the course ran out and organizers shut down the race about four hours after it started. "I guess I was lucky, I finished before they started pulling people off the course," she says.

Her husband also caught the running bug, doing his first half-marathon in November. As part of their training, they fell in with a group of regular training partners. Idalski turned that into a formal running club, the Rivertown Runners.

"We've only been a club for less than a year, but we've got more than 40 members," Idalski says. "It's very much a grassroots thing, we're still growing. We like to do unique things and have fun." One activity that falls under that description is their summer beer runs on Thursday evenings at 6:30 and finishing at the Ridgeview Tavern, where the participants quench their thirsts with seasonal brews. In addition, they hold runs Saturday mornings on the Rockefeller Estate trails and will begin track workouts at Sleepy Hollow High School in June.

Idalski was also the driving force behind the town's two new races, a 10K held before Halloween last October and a half-marathon this March, which drew 600 runners. The club donated $10,000 from the race proceeds to provide 100 summer camp scholarships. Idalski squeezes all this in around raising four kids, ages 2 to 8, plus two dogs in "a very full house."

"Running has become a very important part of our family," she said. "This is a great running area, and it's so enjoyable being outside, and seeing the camaraderie that running develops."

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