How it all started
Mind The Ducks has a colorful history that started with a vivid dream, an urban park, and some very feisty waterfowl. The story begins in July of 2009 when an ultrarunner, Shelley Viggiano, had an all too real dream about a timed race in a small park favored more by colorful locals feeding ducks with their children, than by runners. Later that day, armed with a loaf of stale bread and her kids, she headed to Trout Lake in Seneca Park and walked a 1/2 mile loop, dodging 1 legged geese and aggressive ducks. There she found her dream: an absolutely perfect place for a timed race, snappy and ill-mannered birds not withstanding.
After some thought, she determined twelve hours to be the magic distance – long enough that one can’t phone-in a good performance, short enough that locals could sleep in their own beds that night. Enough time for budding marathoners to beat a cutoff, or for beginning ultrarunners to make the 50k or 50 mile distance without fear of being lost, lonely, hungry, thirsty, or uncomfortable. Everyone would be together all day – it would be one big running party! A little bit of digging through the archives showed that a timed race hadn’t been done in Rochester in decades – further reason, it had to be done! Viggiano brought her idea to the board of her running club at the time, Ultrarunning Matters, who unanimously approved and appointed her race director of the newly christened Mind The Ducks 12 Hour (MTD).
From it’s inception MTD has been all about the participant’s experience. If each participant didn’t have the best eats, greatest prizes, and most fun – the race director took it personally. The idea was to present an event with over the top support that costs less than an average big city marathon. In addition, Mind The Ducks has never been a for-profit venture and each year the proceeds have been donated to local charities. Wonderful things happened during the 2010-2012 races under Viggiano’s direction: lasting friendships were made, new ultrarunners were christened running around Trout Lake, and a national record was broken. MTD was not held during 2013, however, it was Viggiano’s desire to have it continue with a new race director. It had to be someone enthusiastic about running, dependable, detail oriented, and with big visions. She found that in Gil Robs who took over in 2014, bringing big changes with him – a new venue at North Ponds Park which allowed for more participants, better amenities, and a 1 mile course. Some things, however, will never change at Mind the Ducks-great support, reasonable rates, and good times.