The Hudson River 50 Brings Trail Racing To “The Big Apple”

David Kilgore, trail athlete manager for On Running, is creating trail running opportunities in the heart of “The Big Apple,” New York City, NY. Kilgore, member of Team USATF at the 2019 Trail World Championships and third place finisher at the 2018 USATF 50-kilometer Trail Championships, has raced and explored trails world wide. Since settling in New York City in 2016, Kilgore has set his sights on creating a trail race to increase trail running participation in the area.

On October 1, 2022, Kilgore will be organizing the inaugural Hudson River 50 Mile, located along the scenic Palisades, a line of steep cliffs along the west side of the lower Hudson River, with impressive views of the George Washington bridge and Manhattan skyline.

Hudson River 50

Photo credit: Jacob Holguin.

Who Is David Kilgore?

Aside from directing the Hudson River 50, Kilgore’s running career has been an exciting journey that has led him to become a passionate trail runner, trail athlete manager for On Running and race director. In high school, Kilgore was a four-time Florida state champion in cross country. This early success led to a NCAA Division I college running career at the University of Colorado (Boulder), as well as a year at the University of Florida and semester at Oklahoma State University.

Post college, Kilgore lost touch with running but rekindled his passion with support from his girlfriend, whom he met in New York City. Since discovering trail racing in 2014, Kilgore has completed a variety of trail races and trail running projects including a 300-mile run from Los Angeles, CA to Las Vegas, NV, the 2019 Trail World Championships in Portugal and a race to the top of the Empire State Building. Some of his favorite trail races include the Ragged 50K in New Hampshire and California’s Fourmidable 50K.

Hudson River 50

Photo credit: Jacob Holguin.

Trail Running around New York City?

When most people think of trail running, they don’t picture a large metropolitan area such as New York City. Kilgore explains that trail systems in the New York City region are more extensive than most realize, “After living in NYC, I can attest that we have many beautiful outdoor locations, if you are just willing to go outside and explore. It’s more than just a mecca of concrete and buildings. The Hudson River trail that the race is held on is only two miles from one of the major bridges in the city, The George Washington Bridge. We want to shine a light on the epic trails that surround the New York City area.”

Kilgore describes the course in greater detail, “The course is a 26-mile loop which runners will complete twice. Runners climb out of a docking area underneath beautiful cliffs and follow single-track for about thirteen miles, then descend down a bridal path along the Hudson River. As runners climb back up they are treated to a scenic view of the George Washington Bridge and the New York City skyline.”

Kilgore has also found the New York City running community to be one of the best he’s ever been a part of, “I’ve spent most of my life in outdoor spaces, but once I landed in NYC I discovered how special a metropolitan area can be and how great the running community is here. There are professional road, track runners, trail and ultramarathon runners. It’s a huge melting pot for all types of runners.”

Hudson River 50

Photo credit: Jacob Holguin.

The Future of The Hudson River 50

At its heart, this race is an opportunity for the New York City running community to show its love for trail running, “We want this to be an inclusive, community event. We want to attract out-of-towners, but we also want this to be a celebration for the locals around trail running. Trail racing is almost non-existent in the city, but there are plenty of athletes interested in running trails if they had the opportunity to do so.”

The Hudson River 50 will be helping to preserve the nature and trails in the area. Kilgore describes the event’s sustainability efforts, “Another purpose of this race is to uplift the area we live in. We are partnering with Riverkeeper, an organization that preserves the Hudson River. The Hudson River is the heart, blood and life of New York City, and we hope to bring awareness to Riverkeeper and raise funds for them and the local parks department.”

As for the future of this event, Kilgore hopes the race can make its mark on the trail running world, “We want this to be a high performing event that attracts many top tier elites. In the next few years we want to put this race on the map. Currently, not many trail athletes are traveling to New York City to compete, but this could be a very unique avenue for people to come explore the city while also racing at a competitive event. We want to have significant prize money, accommodations and the best content around these athletes.”

The inaugural Hudson River 50 will award equal prize money for the top three men and women: 1st: $2,000, 2nd: $1,000 and 3rd, $500.

Hudson River 50

The Palisades and George Washington Bridge. Photo credit: Richard Bolt.

Course Preview Run A Success

An organized course preview run was held April 30, 2022 to promote the event. The schedule for the preview run included a guided run by Kilgore, post-run refreshments, a discussion with the Riverkeeper team and a shoreline cleanup. Kilgore shares his experience of the course preview, “It was a great gauge for everyone racing this fall. It was fantastic having Riverkeeper out to speak on ways they are aiding in keeping the surrounding areas clean, how we could make an impact, and this was a great kick off for their massive river clean up this May. We collected around 100 pounds of trash (150 if you count the wet couch we pulled out of the Hudson!). Almost everyone stayed for the cleanup, which was great!”

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