YONKERS, N.Y. – Running brothers Joe and David Bencivenga, one a current and the other a former White Plains resident, will challenge the Yonkers Marathon’s half marathon race Sunday, along with hundreds of competitors from Westchester.
“This will be my first Yonkers half marathon,” Joe Bencivenga said. “I am a veteran of 23 fulls and countless half marathons (more than 100). But I have not yet conquered Yonkers.”
Considered by many runners as one of the most difficult of long distance tests, the Yonkers Marathon-Half Marathon holds its 86th running this Sunday on a two-loop course that begins and ends on the Yonkers waterfront and rolls through Hastings-on-Hudson. Once considered a must-run marathon for the sports’ best, its hilly course and proximity to the New York City Marathon held in November may have depleted the field of runners over time.
The Yonkers Marathon was first held on Thanksgiving Day 1907. It is the second oldest marathon in the United States behind the Boston Marathon, and once hosted the national championships, as well as being a venue for the Olympic Trials in the 1960s.
“The Yonkers Marathon has a reputation for being a race with challenging hills,” Joe Bencivenga said. “So the challenge for me will be to pace myself and run within my limits and make sure I have enough gas in the tank to make it through the hills. David and I were recently teammates with nine others in the Green Mountain Relay, a 200-mile relay race in Vermont that featured some real challenging hills. I expect the Yonkers course to be just as challenging.”
The full marathon course is a double loop that runs north on Warburton Ave., through Hastings-on-Hudson, east up Main Street, south on North Broadway and then south along Nepperhan Ave. and South Broadway to the Bronx-Yonkers border, then north on Riverdale Ave. to the start/finish line. The half marathon is run in one loop and serves as a good prep for the New York run.
“This is my first half (marathon),” David Bencivenga said. “I set a goal to do one before the end of the year. It is exciting, although this race sounds frightening. I have been training on hills in Westchester and recently ran the Riverdale Ramble 10K and the Putnam Valley Classic eight-mile around Lake Mahopac. I do usually run shorter distances like 5K & 10K’s, but I’m going further and I feel great.”
Dobbs Ferry’s Mike Gibbons is hoping for the full marathon experience as a prep race for the ING New York Marathon. “I’m running the New York Marathon and haven’t run a full marathon before, so Yonkers will be my first test,” said Gibbons. “It’s going to be an experience. I expect people I know will be out on the streets cheering us on. I have a little soreness in one knee, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Steve Lastoe of NYCRUNS, a runners group in the New York Metrolpoitan area, said the event is being revived.
"The Yonkers Marathon is a wonderful event and we expect it to grow in the coming years," Lastoe said. "It's a great challenge."
For more information on the Yonkers Marathon and how to enter, log on at http://theyonkersmarathon.com or go to Facebook and Yonkers Marathon and Half Marathon page.