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NYS: Thousands Come Out for Middletown’s Annual Run4Downtown

Published: August 21, 2023
Runners takeoff from the starting line in Middletown's 17th annual “Run4Downtown,” in Middletown, New York on Aug. 19, 2023. (Image: Jack Chen/Vision Times)

On Aug. 19, thousands of participants including hundreds of runners and walkers attended the 17th annual “Run4Downtown” (R4DT) in Middletown, New York.

The event, which was sponsored by Marshall & Sterling Insurance, challenged participants to run four miles through Middletown and aimed to raise funds for beautification projects to help revitalize the city’s historic downtown. 

The annual event, which was first held in 2006, is the brainchild of local business owners Dave and Anna Madden who own and operate Something Sweet Dessert Cafe in Middletown’s downtown core. 

Dave Madden (R), co-founder of the Run4Downtown, poses for a photo at the Marshall & Sterling both at the 17th annual Run4Downtown race on Aug. 19, 2023 in Middletown, New York (Image: Jack Chen/Vision Times)

Dave Madden told Vision Times that this year’s run was “one of our biggest and best turnouts ever“ and that it attracted participants of all ages.

“I think our youngest competitor today was seven-years-old and our oldest was 83-years-old,” he said.   

According to Madden, this year, the event attracted over 600 runners and thousands more who came out for the festivities. 

Runner, Shanna Bearirstl, poses for a photo at the 17th annual Run4Downtown in Middletown, New York on Aug. 19, 2023 (Image: Jack Chen/Vision Times)

One of the runners, Shanna Bearirstl, who originally hails from Middletown and who had run the race once before said this year’s event was “great” and that “It’s a really good event for the community, to give back.”

“It was a lot of fun. I did it with my family, my sister and my mom. My niece is here, so it was a really fun event,” she said, adding that Middletown appears to be “doing great.”

“There’s a lot of new businesses and this event definitely supports the community. So yeah, it’s looking good,” she said.

While most of the participants hailed from Middletown, the event attracted runners from throughout the tri-state area and even from as far away as North Carolina. 

NYS Senator James Skoufis (L), Economic & Community Development Director for the city of Middletown Maria Bruni (C) and Mayor of Middletown, New York Joseph DeStefano (R) attend the 17th annual Run4Downtown, on Aug. 19, 2023 in Middletown, New York. (Image: Jack Chen/Vision Times)

‘It doesn’t get any better than this’

Middletown’s Mayor, Joseph DeStefano, was on site to participate in the festivities and said he was impressed with how “wonderful” the turnout was and the picture perfect day. 

“Yeah! It’s a wonderful turnout. It’s wonderful weather; great participation by local businesses and local organizations,” he said.

“It is, I think, by far the largest event we’ve had, especially since COVID,” DeStefano said, adding that, “Everything fell into place this year. Everybody is happy, music’s playing, people are partying, enjoying the day with their families and it doesn’t get any better than this.”

He said businesses in Middletown are “doing well” and expressed gratitude for their participation in the event. “Businesses are doing well and they are sharing that with the public … we thank them for offering their services today and we thank the people for coming out,” he said. 

One of the businesses that sponsored the event was Equilibrium Brewery, an independently owned craft brewery with a taproom, beer garden, BBQ program, and retail space at 4 South Street in Middletown.

Andrew Yi (C) a runner in the race poses for a photo on Aug. 19, 2023 at the Ganjing World and Moon Festival table near the starting line of the 17th annual Run4Downtown event in Middletown, New York. (Image: Jack Chen/Vision Times)

‘Had a lot of fun’

Another runner, Andrew Yi, who once was team captain for the Monroe-Woodbury cross country and track teams and who now studies at SCAD in Atlanta, said he was encouraged to participate in the run by his mother.

“My mom sent it to me and I run cross country and track for college, so I wanted to come out and see what the community has to offer and participate and see my friends and have some fun today,” he said. 

Yi said the course was “a little harder than I thought” and that there were “a lot of hills.“

“But, it was a fun course and the people I ran with, it was a really good community and it was a really fun experience,” he said, adding that “Just to see the city of Middletown and everybody supporting all the local businesses, it was an amazing experience. I had a lot of fun today.”

Among the numerous businesses and organizations participating was Ganjing World, a video streaming platform not unlike YouTube, and organizers of the upcoming Moon Festival. 

Yi said, despite being unable to attend, that he is looking forward to hearing about the upcoming Moon Festival and praised Ganjing World.

“I am really excited to see what they have. Apparently it’s a lot like YouTube and they have articles and stuff and I am really excited to see what they have in the future and to see how the website progresses,” Yi said.

DeStefano told Vision Times that an estimated 2,000 people attended this year’s event, not including runners and walkers, and that the goal is to grow the event every year.

“We will do more every year. Every year we want it to grow, that’s the goal,” he said, adding that, “We don’t have any targets, just get better every year.”

Judy Tao contributed to this report.