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3.1-Mile Race Draws 50 Orthodox Jewish Women

Times Herald-Record

Running transforms Laykie Donin, clearing the Houston resident’s head and reducing the stress of raising four children and holding a full-time job.

“When I’m physically fit, I’m mentally fit,” said Donin. “When I come home (from exercising), I’m a much better mom.”

Running became a common ground for Donin and more than 50 other Orthodox Jewish women who gathered at SUNY Sullivan for a first-of-its-kind 5 kilometer walk and run.

The race was open to all women, but most who registered for the 3.1-mile race were black-skirted women and girls vacationing at Sullivan County’s bungalow colonies.

“It’s just the start of something so much more,” said Stephen Friedman, JRunner’s co-founder and president of Brooklyn-based JRunners, which sponsored the event.

Popularity expected to leap

The 15-month-old JRunners, which held a 140-mile relay race from Brooklyn to Loch Sheldrake last August, expects to lose money. But Friedman considers Wednesday’s race the building block for an even-larger all-women’s run next summer.

“I expect next year to have tons of kids, tons of adults,” he said.

It came about through the persistence of Miriam Wielgus, who ran in two JRunner-sponsored 5K races in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.

Wielgus, who summers at the Forestburgh Cottages bungalow colony in Monticello, approached Friedman about holding a women-only summer race in Sullivan.

“Usually we have to wait for the men and then the women get started,” Wielgus said as she sat under a tree while the remaining runners finished. “The camaraderie and all girls having fun, it’s terrific.” Wielgus brought along a number of girls from Forestburgh, including the youngest runner, 9-year-old Mimi Gornish. Brooklyn resident Libby Mendelowitz, 16, was also part of the Forestburgh contingent.

“I love the feeling,” she said of running. “You’re not even thinking; you’re just running.”

Manhattan resident Judith Sambol ran the race with her mother-in-law, Robin Bodek Rosenbaum, and won with a time of 23:02.

She had a medal placed around her neck and then posed for pictures before walking over to her mother, Sima Sambol, and 5-month-old son, Reuven Rosenbaum. She removed the medal and placed it around her son’s neck.

“Awesome,” she said of the race. “I’ve never won a race before, (and) I’ve been running for a long time.”



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