Until recently, competitive runners on Staten Island had to go to other boroughs if they wanted to run a cross-country 5k. But a group of Staten Islanders have been working to change that as their new trail already has runners feeling the burn. NY1's Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
Its official name will be Saddleback Hill, but the runners who've battled the steep incline inside Clove Lakes Park have given it an affectionate nickname: "Death."
"When I get to the top of the hill, it's a good part, because I get to go down for a little bit," said Brian Rowan of the Staten Island Athletic Club.
The steep hill is part of a new trail that some local runners have been pushing for. They note that the park has plenty of flat asphalt surfaces and also plenty of hills for those who want a more challenging run. But so far, the park doesn't have a cross-country trail that's exactly 5k. So many sports teams and competitive runners have to go to places like the Bronx's Van Cortlandt Park, when they'd rather stay close to home.
"There's always been a goal to try and make the course all trail as much as you can, off the asphalt," said Jim Hughes of the Staten Island High School Track and Field Association.
So the group chose a course, including some high school cross country trails, and others that were overgrown by vegetation. Then they asked the Parks Department to help clean it up. Over several months, volunteers put down wood chips from the park's own trees. Eventually, signs and distance markers will be installed.
A million and a half dollars from the borough president's office will bring the trail to professional grade.
"It'll have curbing and water drainage treatment and a hybrid material that will sustain, that will be sustainable for many years to come," said Mike Schnall of the city Parks Department.
While the trail isn't officially open yet, runners have been testing it out for several weeks to work out the kinks.
The borough president's office has promised funding for similar 5k trails to be built in the mid-island and on the south shore in the coming years.