McClellan runs through pain to repeat as Great Sacandaga Lake half-marathon champ

PHOTOGRAPHER:

Tommy McClellan, a Gloversville native, crosses the finish line first at the Great Sacandaga half-marathon Sunday, May 15, 2022 repeating as the overall champion.

NORTHVILLE — Gloversville native Tommy McClellan is a stand-up comedian and one of the biggest pay-offs on stage is to make your audience laugh until it hurts.

The tables were turned when McClellan repeated as the overall champion of the Great Sacandaga Lake half-marathon Sunday — running through his own pain.

“Today was tough with my hip [tendonitis],” McClellan explained. “It was the constant struggle of me thinking of dropping out, but I don’t want to drop out, but I’m trying to be smart.”

McClellan captured the inaugural 2019 Great Sacandaga Lake marathon and had to wait two years for a chance to defend his title from restrictions in-place due to the novel coronavirus.

“There is something in me that is ‘don’t ever drop out,’” McClellan said. “It was just a fight with myself. I beat my brain today, I overcame the want to quit.”

Traveling back to Fulton County from Primos, Pennsylvania, McClellan covered the 13.1-mile course around Great Sacandaga Lake in one hour, 23.20 minutes.

His closest competitor was his running teammate Meg Champagne.

“Tommy saw I moved here [Saratoga Springs] and asked me if I wanted to run it,” Champagne said. “I’ve been doing 5k, 10k races in college [University of New Hampshire]. My goal was to be under 1:25, which I did in the most painful way possible.”

Champagne finished on the heels of McClellan at 1:24.4.

The course circles Great Sacandaga Lake and finishes in front of the Northville Fire Station on South Main Street, the recipient of the proceeds from former firefighter and race director Don Wood.

Wood also was a member of the Gloversville Police Department in the 1970s before moving to Vermont and working for the state before retiring. He took up running late in life before a knee replacement took him out of racing.

“I can’t run anymore, but I can do a benefit for the fire department,” Wood said. “I wanted to promote the beauty of the lake, the beauty of the community. This was our way to get people here that ordinarily may not come to Northville.”

Mayfield graduate Delaney LaFountaine raced her first-ever half marathon Sunday, supported and a little embarrassed along the route by her parents.

Her mom, Julie, made a sign with several pictures of Delaney on it and printed on it ‘That’s My Baby!”

“I had a feeling because this morning I saw a package from when you go print out a picture from Walgreens,” Delaney LaFountaine said. “ I saw that in the garbage, so I had an idea.”

The current Siena College health sciences student finished the half-marathon in 2 hours, 1.30 minutes.

“My husband [George] and I were on our bikes and we caught her at a couple different spots throughout the race to scream, yell, hold up the sign,” Julie LaFountaine said. “When we saw her turn by The Ice Cream Tree we cheered her on there, pedaled back [to the finish] as fast as we could and then I walked back until I saw her. I figured I would run the last bit with her.”

LaFountaine said her first half-marathon came at just the right time. 

“In February I wasn’t in the greatest place mentally, I needed something to give me motivation to work out, something to look forward to.  Why not run a half-marathon,” Delaney LaFountaine said. “Running is a great outlet you can’t cry when you are running.”

McClellan, a former volunteer coach with the Mayfield cross country team helped her train from afar.

“When COVID hit he gave me a training plan every week for the summer,” she said. “I credit a lot of my running to him because he taught me how to do it, how to train.”

Sunday’s weather, the crowd turnout and support from her parents was ideal.

“This is a great place to do it right near home, my nordic ski coach was here cheering me on, some of my friends’ parents were cheering me on, it was great,” she said. “It`s a full circle moment. I finished my semester last week [4.0 GPA according to her mom, Julie], finish this today.”

Another winner on Sunday was Molly Zullo, a Northville resident and owner of ADK Blend located at the finish line.

“I am grateful that we can help the runners recover from a 13.1-mile race,” Zullo said. “We have special supplements that we add to their shakes for them to recover quicker.”

ADK Blend offers a variety of smoothies, protein shakes, smoothie bowls and iced refreshers making it a busy morning for the business.

“I wanted a busy day, making money is nice,” Zullo said. “I’m just glad to help the runners recover.”

Wood hopes that the road race will help his hometown grow.

“Last night I got a call from a runner in Vermont, I said do you know where Northville is?” Wood said. “He said nNo, I’ll plug it into my GPS. He’s never been here before, those are the kind of people that we wanted to bring in. Introduce them to the beauty of the area as well as the camaraderie and the friendship of the people here in town.”

By Stan Hudy

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