We Waddled

Another wonderful WA WA Wally Waddle 5K has come and gone. We had beautiful spring running weather. More than 200 people came out to Vassar Farms to take part in our morning of racing and fun.

Photo by Bob Kopac

First up was the kids 1 mile run with 38 finishers from ages 4 to 13. Eleven-year-old Matt Califano was the first boy finisher with a Waddle course record of 5:38.69 edging out 13-year-old Patrick Tirch by less than a second. Doriana Tirch was the first girl finisher in 7:27.

1 mile winners Matt Califano and Doriana Tirch . Photo by Bob Kopac.

Next up was the running of the rugby field with Wally the Turtle for the youngest kids. This is a great way for kids under 6 to engage in some healthy exercise and friendly competition.

Running of the rugby field. Photo by Bob Kopac.

With the kids’ races done, it was time for the Wally Waddle 5k. 168 people (and a few dogs) ran or walked the (mostly) dirt road course for pie and glory.

The lead pack: Noah Froh, Ethan Husted, and Adam Beach. Photo by Bob Kopac.

 First time Waddle winner, 17-year-old Ethan Husted, bested the field by nearly a minute running an impressive 16:50. Tara Farrell, also a first time waddler, was the woman’s winner in a stellar 19:37.

Overall Wally Waddle Winners Ethan Husted and Tara Farrell. Photo by Bob Kopac

All registered 5k participants were able to feast on donated bagels from The Bagel Shoppe and fresh-baked pie slices from Barton Orchards

Mr. and Mrs. Wally with a table of delicious pie slices.

Once the races were over it was time to hand out awards. Every year a special award goes out to our first male and female Camp WA WA Segowea alumni finishers. This year Desmond Teague, and Sarah Matzner proved to be the speediest WA WAs. We also honored 2 “Rock Star” volunteers: Liz Caravan for her annual support at the registration and face painting tables and Wally the Turtle for generally being awesome each of the last 9 years.

Wally getting his award. Photo by Bob Kopac.

As always, age group winners were treated to a home made pie and pint glass. Our amazing team of bakers make dozens of pies every year, pies that you will never find in a store, such as Nutella Pecan or Snickerdoodle Apple Cream.

Pie makers Elisha and Katie. Photo by Bob Kopac.

Please visit our Results Page to see all of this years finishers. It means the world to us that you choose to spend your Mother’s Day at the Wally Waddle. You keep showing up, and we’ll keep putting on the race and baking the pies.

Lastly a huge WA WA thanks to our many race sponsors. Businesses from around the Hudson Valley support us each year with cash donations or material support for the race. Because of their annual support, we are able to keep our 5k entries fees low, while still raising money for children in the Hudson Valley to attend Camp WA WA Segowea.

2018 Sponsors. Photo by Bob Kopac.

2018 Wally Waddle Sponsors

Adams Fairacre Farms
The Bagel Shoppe
Barton Orchards
Caffe Aurora
CPD Energy
The Derby
DSL Financial
Feldman Physical Therapy
The Hodos Family
Morris Associates
Radio Woodstock
Tubby’s Bathtub Resurfacing

See more than 700 photos from Bob Kopac (Click Here)
Read about the Waddle in the Poughkeepsie Journal (Click Here)

Why We Waddle

Swimming in a pristine lake, reading under the shade of generations-old oak trees, racing through the woods during a game of capture the flag, sleeping in a bunk-bed and drifting off to the croaks of bullfrogs or the far-off hoots of a great horned owl, living and playing with people of all backgrounds: that is Camp WA WA Segowea. Kids find their independence, make lifetime friendships, and learn how to live conscientiously in a community. Everyone’s experiences and journeys are unique, but Smith Park of New York (SPONY), believes Camp WA WA Segowea offers true, life-changing growth that should be accessible to all kids, from all backgrounds.

SPONY alumni and friends are the backbone of these experiences. They help to fund Camper Scholarships through events, social campaign fundraising, and through volunteer service. This is how Camp WA WA Segowea can give the summer outdoor camp experience to those that need a little extra help.


 The Annual WA WA Wally Waddle 5K and Kids Run is organized by WA WA Alumni in cooperation with the Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club and held on Mother’s Day every year at Vassar Farms Ecological Preserve in Poughkeepsie, NY. This popular family event directly funds Camper Scholarship for Camp WA WA Segowea. Registrations for the events, day-of raffles, and donations collected around this healthy, community event go towards sending children to Camp WA WA for two-week sessions. Your participation at the Waddle is not only important for the fun of having more friends to join us, but also to help us send more kids to Camp each summer.

Please join us for the 9th Annual WA WA Wally Waddle 5K and Kids Runs.

    • Vassar Farms corner of Raymond and Hooker Ave.  Map
    • Sunday May 13th, 2018 (Mother’s Day)
    • Race Day registration 7:30-9:00 am
    • Kids 1 Mile 9:00 am (free if you preregister, $5 on race day)
    • Kids Rugby Field Rush 100 yards 9:15 am (free)
    • 5K Run/Walk 9:30 am ($20 preregistration $25 race day)
    • Awarding of the Pies around 10:30 am
    • T-shirts to the 1st 150 Registered 5k runners
    • Free games, face painting and balloon animals for the kids

Register online here

Vote for Your Favorite Pie!

Race organizers and volunteers wanted to do something exciting to celebrate the Wally Waddle’s 9th year. Taking the advice to “do what you do best,” we’ve decided to offer all registered 5K participants a slice of pie this year! We are pleased to announce a pie partnership with Barton Orchards, a wonderful Dutchess County business with locations in Poughkeepsie and Poughquag.

Barton Orchards has pledged delicious apple pies (a perennial favorite), but now we need your help. We want to know what other pie filling you’d like.

Please take a moment to vote for your favorite pie.

Which Barton Orchards' pie would you like to see (and eat) at the 9th annual Wally Waddle?

View Results

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Pie for all!

The 9th annual Wa Wa Wally Waddle is adding a new crowd-pleasing feature: a free slice of farm-baked pie to all registered 5K participants. A member of the Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club made the pie slice suggestion, and we are happy to oblige. Not to be left out, participants in the free kids races will receive a cupcake. Our tradition of offering home made pie prizes to age group winners will continue. Second and third places in the 5K age groups win Waddle pint glasses. The top 3 boys and girls in each mile age group will take home Waddle key chains.

The Wally Waddle 5K walk/run and free kids races will take place on Sunday, May 13th at Vassar Farm Ecological Preserve. The 1 mile kids run (free for pre-registered participants, $5 race day) begins at 9:00 a.m. The 5K ($20 pre-registered, $25 race day) begins at 9:30. Register online through the Mid-Hudson Road Runners club website (www.mhrrc.org) or in person on race day.

The Waddle organizers set a goal in 2016 to announce prizes an hour after the 5K starts. We have met that goal each year and will continue that tradition in 2018. We want to pack in a lot of fun, hand out exciting prizes, and get you home to enjoy the rest of your day.

In honor of Mother’s day, mother/daughter and mother/son teams will also compete for Caffé Aurora gift certificates. 5K times will be added up to see which families earn dessert and bragging rights. You can sign-up your family team here.

All Waddle proceeds go toward camper scholarship for Hudson Valley children to attend beautiful Camp Wa Wa Segowea. Camp Segowea has provided Hudson Valley children with memorable summers for over 100 years. The Waddle is organized by dedicated alumni who want to preserve the Segowea experience for families of all means.

At the event you can learn more about Camp Segowea, get your exercise for the day, tire out your kids, and spend a beautiful spring day at Vassar Farm.

9th Annual WA WA Wally Waddle 5k

It may not feel like it right now, but spring is on the way, and with it the 9th Annual WA WA Wally Waddle 5k and kids run. This Mother’s Day tradition will once again take place at Vassar Farms and features 3 races: a 100 yard dash with Wally for kids 6 and younger, a 1 mile race for kids 13 and younger and a 5k for anyone who can run/walk/hop 3.1 miles. Preregistration ends at midnight Friday May 11th.

9th Annual WA WA Wally Waddle 5k and Kids Runs.
    • Vassar Farms corner of Raymond and Hooker Ave.  Map
    • Sunday May 13th, 2018 (Mother’s Day)
    • Race Day registration 7:30-9:00 am
    • Kids 1 mile 9:00 am (free if you preregister $5 on race day)
    • Kids Rugby Field Rush 100 yards 9:15 am (free)
    • 5K Run/Walk 9:30 am ($20 preregistration $25 race day)
    • Awarding of the Pies around 10:30 am
    • T-shirts to the 1st 150 Registered 5k runners
    • Free games, face painting and balloon animals for the kids

Register online here

Running Down Adolescence

Adolescence is a tough time—socially, physically, you name it. I wore what my mom referred to as a “lemon face” for about 2 years. (We can now diagnose it properly as an admirable case of RBF.) Family members would tell my mom (in front of me), “She’ll grow out of it.”

I had friends, but I felt socially awkward and did not enjoy being me as much as I could have. A few years later, I exited adolescence much more sociable and confident. So what intervened? As I raise two girls and think about how to help them cultivate a positive self-concept, I’ve already exposed them to the two experiences that helped me most: running and attending overnight camp at Wa Wa Segowea.

Most kids or adolescents do not decide to run because of the scientifically-proven benefits, but those benefits certainly exist. A 2012 study in The Journal of Adolescent Health found that participants who ran for 30 minutes a day for three weeks had improved mood, sleep quality, and concentration. This Runners World article also captures how the confidence cultivated through running can extend to other areas of life—such as entering a school poetry contest or running for student government.

My lifelong friends Sarah Perks and Jennifer Richardson trail running in the late 90s.

I learned in 8th grade that one of my running friends, Sarah, went to this awesome camp called WA WA Segowea. It was (and is) on a beautiful private lake in the Berkshires, just over an hour from Poughkeepsie and Albany. I had to give it a try.

I learned to push myself physically through running, but camp had its own challenges. In the “senior village” my first year, I joined a dozen adolescent girls and two counselors on a 3-day Appalachian Trail hike. We covered 20+ miles with 25-pound packs on our backs. We coached each other up literal mountains and picked each other up after falling backwards on our packs, like upside down turtles with legs and arms waving helplessly in the air.

When we were not on the trail, we joined the full slate of camp activities. We overcame stage fright to participate in skit night. We learned to build a fire and cook on it. We boated around the pristine lake on the lookout for beavers and turtles. Through it all, we became more independent, we flexed our leadership skills, and we felt what it meant to be part of a community.

CITs in togas, 1995 or 1996: Lisa Perks, Jessica Moore, Sarah Perks, Georgia LoPresti Meckes, Boo Van Alstyne, Nerissa Steel.

Research affirms that overnight camping experiences can help kids be more resilient. Furthermore, parents report their that their kids are more independent and have improved peer relationships after experiencing summer camp. These findings all make sense. At camp, we weren’t turned inward, thinking only of ourselves and how others perceive us. We didn’t spend our time checking our phones, straightening our hair, or coveting our friends’ fashions. We were looking outward, getting to know others in our community– and getting to know ourselves better in the process.

The WA WA Wally Waddle 5K and free kids races bring together these two formative experiences: running and WA WA. The Poughkeepsie, NY race is a fundraiser and a friend-raiser for WA WA Segowea. Click here to register for the race, selecting Wally Waddle from the drop-down menu of races. All proceeds will go toward camper scholarships for local kids.

The free kids races are a great way to introduce kids of all ages to running, to encourage them to set goals and work toward achieving those goals. The 5K is also a great opportunity for people of all ages to maintain fitness and a sense of community connection. Come for the race, enjoy a spring day at Vassar Farm, get your face painted, and maybe you’ll be rewarded with a home-baked pie prize at the end.

Dozens of alumni will be at the race, including our inspiring camp director, Lily Mercogliano Easton. At the race, you can speak to Lily, to current campers, to parents, and to former campers about WA WA. You can also learn more and register online.

It’s hard to pinpoint the magic of Camp WA WA Segowea, but ask alumni and we’ll try. Some say it’s in the lake. I say it’s in the people.

2016 Results


The full results from the 2o16 Wally Waddle 5k and 1 mile kids run are available on the Results Page. Below are the winners for each race.

Overall 5k Winners
Mike Insler (5 time winner)
Melissa Guckian

Overall 1 Mile Winners
Frank Vanzillotta (2nd year in a row)
Olivia Serrano
Family Teams
The Millennium Falcons: Natalie Cartwright and Isabelle Serrano
Southview Sprinters: Traci Meyer and Brendan Meyer

Nominate a Pie

In the Wa Wa Wally Waddle’s first year (2010), you had to beat a Camp Wa Wa Segowea alumni relay team to receive a pie. In the second year, we settled on our permanent formula: pies to all female and male age group winners, with extra pies raffled off.


Pies have been the Waddle’s “special” from the start, the feature that makes the race memorable and unique. Sure, we have a great race date, a fast course in a serene setting, and other “extras” that make it an exciting morning, but we are known for being the pie race.

For eight years, our wonderful volunteers have baked chocolate silk pies, apple pies, cherry pies, coconut cream pies, whoopee pies, berry pies, s’mores pies, and an assortment of other confections. We recently added gluten- and dairy-free pies to the mix.

Here’s my question for you all to answer below: What pies would you like to see at the 2017 Waddle? We’ll draw from the list and make some new ones to motivate our runners and walkers.

One of our goals this year is to announce our winners about an hour after the 5K starts. This means we’ll stay on target to get you home in time to have pie for brunch.

Thank you to everyone who has already registered for the kids mile or 5K. And for those of you who haven’t yet attended a Waddle: Give us a try. You might win a pie!

2016 Wally Waddle 5k

7th Annual Wa Wa Wally Waddle 5k and Kids Runs.
Benefiting Camp Wa Wa Segowea Camper Scholarship Fund
    • Vassar Farms corner of Raymond and Hooker Ave.  Map
    • Sunday May 8th, 2016 (Mother’s Day)
    • Race Day registration 7:30-9:00 am
    • Kids 1 mile 9:00 am (free if you preregister $5 on race day)
    • Kids Rugby Field Rush 100 yards 9:15 am (free)
    • 5K Run/Walk 9:30 am ($20 preregistration $25 race day)
    • Awarding of the Pies around 10:30 am
    • T-shirts to the 1st 200 Registered 5k runners
    • Free games, face painting and balloon animals for the kids

Please note the 1 mile kids run and 5k run start 30 minutes earlier this year. We have moved the times up in an effort to get people on with their Mother’s Day celebrations more quickly.

Register online here


What We Loved and What We Can Do Better

Happy Pie Winner.
Happy Pie Winner.

Every year after the Wally Waddle my wife Lisa and I spend much of the 5+ hour drive back to Rochester, NY discussing the race. We talk about what went well and what we can improve. After 6 years we still find little details that need tweaking and some big ones that’ll I’ll get to later. It is the nature of race directors to worry about all the things that didn’t go as planned. But it’s also important to remember the successes.

Happy Runner.
Happy Runner.

We had beautiful weather and a fantastic turnout. Every year the race draws more families as evidenced by the growing number of kids mile participants and family 5k teams. The best part of the Waddle for me is seeing kids, parents, and grandparents all taking part in the various races. Three generations of Perks were at the race. We had a Perks in each event as well several volunteering. My wife and my mom have both spent their last 6 Mother’s Days at the Wally Waddle helping make the day great for others.

First Camp Segowea Alumnus Zach Korzyk.
First Camp Segowea Alumnus Zach Korzyk.

One of the ways we measure success at the Wally Waddle is by how much money we raise to help send children to YMCA Camp Segowea. This year we raised $3000, all of which goes to helping kids in the Hudson Valley attend Camp Segowea. By running the Wally Waddle 5k you are helping kids have a camp experience in which they will learn, play, and grow. The kids and volunteers thank you for your support!

Connie and Mike our Waddle 5k Champions.
Connie and Mike our Waddle 5k Champions.

When Lisa and I do our postmortem on the race we typically find small issues that we want to correct: the food table needed more knives, we forgot the camp alumni prize mugs, we didn’t order enough XL shirts, etc. This year, however, we had a big glaring problem. Our timing tent blew over, all the computers crashed to the ground, and the chip timing system that normally spits results as soon as runners cross the finish line took hours to get sorted out (You can see all the results here). As a result many of you sat around in the hot sun for much longer than you should have to find out how you did.

As a runner there are only a few things I really need from a race. I want an accurately measured, easy to follow course and accurate, timely results. This year we failed to give you accurate,timely results and for that I am truly sorry. Although we had a manual backup system in place and we did eventually get the complete chip timed results, we made you wait far too long for awards. I appreciate the patience you showed sticking around for the awarding of the pies and promise we will do better next year. Next year we will award the pies just one hour after the 5k begins.


We have some other changes in store for next year’s Waddle, the biggest of which is moving all the races up by 30 minutes. In an effort to get people out of the heat and on with their Mother’s Day, we will start the kids 1 mile race at 9:00 am, the kids 100 yard Wally dash at 9:20 and the 5k at 9:30. The awarding of the pies will begin at 10:30.

From me and the all the volunteers who help put on the Wally Waddle each year, thank you for your support. We hope to see you next spring at a more tightly-organized Waddle.