Annual Johnson Jog takes historic route

JOHNSTOWN – With dry skies and cool temperatures, avid runners and novices alike took part in the third annual Johnson Jog 5K Run and Walk at the Johnson Hall State Historic Site on Saturday morning.

As racers lined up on Hall Avenue, men in period dress started off the race with cannon fire at the park entrance. Less than 18 minutes later, Eric Barnes of Canajoharie was the first person across the finish line.

Event Organizer Patricia Robinson said the event is a way to raise funds for community programs and restoration at Johnson Hall.

Robinson said between 40 to 50 volunteers were on hand to help with the race. The event was sponsored by the Friends of Johnson Hall. The Fulmont Roadrunners Club was on hand to set up the starting line and to help with the finishing results. Local organizations helping with the event included Frontier, A&E Sports, Fage, Price Chopper and many more.

Robinson said she often hears from people at the event that they no longer live in the area, or have not been to the site in years, but decided to come back for the race to support Johnson Hall.

“It’s very gratify to see how many people have a connection to the site,” Robinson said.

Robinson said a goal of the event is to get people to the area, and get the community interested in the historic site.

“[Johnson Hall’s] a beautiful site, and a focal point of our city,” Robinson said.

The course was designed to take runners past other city historic sites, an intentional move to highlight the many historically significant places the city has to offer, Robinson said. Participants filed past the Drumm House, Jimmy Burke Inn, Old Fort, the court house, library and St. John’s Church, all of which served as markers along the way to the finish line back inside the park.

Robinson said the event would hopefully draw between 150 and 200 people, with 100 runners pre-registering.

City Mayor Michael B. Julius said the event is a great way to raise the profile of the city and get people from across the area to come to Johnstown and Johnson Hall.

“It’s not about who wins or loses,” Julius said. “It’s about people coming out to have a good time.”

Runners Kathleen and Raymond King of Mayfield said they were running their first 5K, a personal goal of theirs.

Kathleen King said that after looking over information about the hall given to runners, her family hopes to come to the site more often. Raymond King said his children were looking forward to coming to the historic site for more events.

Kathleen King joked that for her first 5K, any finish time under an hour would be good.

Wade Wells, site manager of Johnson Historical Site, said the race is a great way to use the site and get individuals with different interests up to the hall.

“It means a great deal to us. It’s a great fundraiser for the friends and the money from sponsors and runners is used at the site for interpretative programs and the restoration project,” Wells said.

Wells said some of the projects going on this summer will be painting the outside of the building and installing new shutters on the ground floor. These shutters will open and close, meaning better protection to the first floor from light and weather, he said.