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After Recent 50-Mile Endurance Challenge, Newtowner Encourages Others To Get Active



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From staying in shape to getting competitive juices flowing, there are a variety of reasons people run races. For Newtown’s Carole Cascia, it was health issues that prompted her to start running four years ago.

Now an avid runner, Cascia is hoping to inspire others to lace up their sneakers and get active.

Cascia, 61, ran 50 miles — yes, a half-century worth of miles — to complete Rock The Ridge, an endurance challenge, held on the Mohonk Preserve in New Paltz, N.Y., on September 25. She was among approximately 450 participants.

“The challenge was just completing the whole 50 miles. The course had some elevation — about 4,000 feet — but had a generous time limit and was mostly on carriage roads so was very doable with the right training,” Cascia said.

The race took Cascia a bit under 16 hours — 15:44:48 to be exact. Talk about grueling. “Those last ten miles were tough. I had blisters on top of my blisters and it was painful,” Cascia said.

Cascia placed third in her age group, but full disclosure, she noted, there were only four women in her age group. That speaks to how impressive it is that Cascia took on the challenge. “The great thing about doing these crazy things over 60 is there isn’t a lot of competition,” she said.

“It is a beautiful course with some spectacular views. It was really fun as I had a lot of friends sign up as relay teams — each person ran one leg that was 13.1 miles long — and one friend who ran the entire 50 miles. We stuck together the last 20 miles or so and it was a big help to have company, especially once it got dark,” Cascia said.

“I heard about this race a few years ago, but never thought I would be capable of doing it. Last year in the midst of the pandemic I decided to sign up. It was a great diversion from everything that has been going on,” Cascia added.

Cascia started running about four years ago.

“Before that I had done one 5K and decided running wasn’t for me. About four years ago I started having some health issues related to my sedentary lifestyle,” she said.

“As a nurse, I feel it’s important to model a healthy lifestyle, so I decided I would start getting in better shape. I started walking every day, just three miles or so,” Cascia said. “One day I felt like running and started running a little and walking a little. I started signing up for 5Ks and sprint triathlons and really loved the events so continued. Up until this year, the longest running race I competed in was a half marathon. I did complete an Ironman 70.3 (a half Ironman) in 2019.”

The running enthusiast wants to encourage others to run or try out another individual athletic activity.

“I feel that a lot of people think they are too old or not athletic enough to start running, or biking or swimming, but I avoided exercise for most of my life — including gym class in high school — and I’m here to say that it’s never too late to start,” Cascia said.

“I think a lot of people resign themselves to thinking that getting older means developing health conditions, many of these medical issues are avoidable or better managed with the right diet and some exercise. I go to Thrive Sports & Fitness in Middlebury for strength training as well, as it’s such an important component to maintain good health as you start getting older,” she added.

Running has opened up the door to added socialization for Cascia.

“I started out training alone, but have made so many great friends through this journey that I often run, bike, or swim with others now. We have a lot of fun doing it,” she said.

“A lot of my training for this race took place in Huntington State Park in Redding. I’d run two mile loops, at one point in my training I ran 31.5 miles or two mile loops and had friends drop by to run some loops with me. Of course it was one of the hottest days of the summer. I felt like I could do about anything after I got that done,” Cascia said.

Cascia plans to run the Storybook Half Marathon trail race in Roosevelt Forest in Stratford this November. She is a school nurse for the City of Bridgeport and has lived in Newtown with her wife Lisa for about 30 years. They raised two children here, Colin and Lauren.

Sports Editor Andy Hutchison can be reached at andyh@thebee.com

Carole Cascia completed Rock The Ridge, a 50-mile endurance challenge, held on the Mohonk Preserve in New Paltz, N.Y., on September 25.
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