By Benjamin Gajewski


The Oak Tree Half Marathon started out as a onetime special event to raise awareness of the Genesee Valley Conservancy’s 15th anniversary. The yearlong “celebration of the oaks” featured several special events, including the first Oak Tree Race.


Area runners appreciated the local race and the unique course enough that organizers decided to make it an annual event. Now, eleven years later, the Oak Tree is a major fundraiser and helps support public nature preserves and private forest and farmland conservation projects throughout the Genesee River watershed. The race is assisted by the Geneseo Central Cross Country team which also benefits from the funds raised.

Organizers are pleased to again have the Oak Tree Half Marathon featured on the Rochester Runner of the Year series. As the longest event in the series, the half marathon is a great chance for distance runners to pick up points against runners more oriented toward the shorter races on the series.

The half marathon course offers runners a unique experience and set of challenges. A flat and fast starts takes runners into the historic village of Geneseo which shuts down for the race. Runners then return past the Geneseo Central School where they run through the pack of 400+ 5k participants as they wait for the start of the 5k.

As the 5K runners race through the streets of the Village, the half marathoners loop through the dirt roads in the Nations Road Grasslands. To say the course is scenic is an understatement. Over 3,000 acres along the course are permanently protected.
Half marathoners run past grass savannahs with 300+ year old Oak trees, past working horse farms, and sheep pastures. It may be the only course in the country that requires organizers to make special arrangements to ensure sheep will not be changing pastures via the roads during the race!


The several long downhill stretches along the dirt roads, of course, mean there are some hills to climb too. The main challenge comes at mile 11, when runners are tired and starting to think about the finish line.


Mile 11 climbs up Nations hill. The hill is spread over a mile stretch and adds a true sense of accomplishment
for runners. The reward is a downhill finish from mile 12 to the finish line, and a fast finish with the last 300 yards on the high school track.

Last year’s winning time of 1:08:27 would win many half marathons and despite the physical challenges, it is a competitive event for runners at every level and age.

Organizers are expecting competitive fields this year due to the RROY series and are further supporting competitive running by offering discount or free entry to elite runners meeting time standards. All race information can be found at:


Genesee Valley Conservancy is a nationally accredited non-profit conservation organization working to protect the habitat, working lands and open space in the Genesee River watershed. Founded in 1990, over 14,400 acres of natural habitat and productive farm and forest land have been conserved by Genesee Valley Conservancy. The organization also owns nature preserves open to the public year-round for low impact recreation. For more information visit