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Volunteer Spotlight: The Endless Energy of Rich Starace is Never Off Track

No one quite does hobbies like our Brookhaven Winter Park Volunteer and Resident Rich Starace. Just a brief conversation with this man will teach you that his force may not be one to be reckoned with. For instance, not only did he arrive early to groom the trails for our snowshoe race & Winterfest celebration in January, but he stuck around to compete by running the 5K snowshoe race and then — for good measure — went out Nordic skiing during the afternoon. Later that day, he happily joined his community at The View Restaurant for some celebrating.

Rich is a staple of our Brookhaven Winter Park team, the group of volunteers whose hard work and dreams have helped this park grow each year. He is no slouch either. He spends 6-8 hours a week throughout the winter grooming trails, works as a lifeguard at the YMCA and competes in major sporting events across the country. Last week, he placed fourth in his age group at the Empire State Games Sprint Winter Triathlon in Tupper Lake, where he put that competitive drive to test with a 5K run, a 10K fat bike ride, followed by a 5K cross-country ski trek. At age 60 last year, he placed first in his age group at a triathlon in Salt Lake City. He has participated in many other ski races like the Birkebeiner in Wisconsin.

Competition seemingly drives him, as he regularly swims in a master swim group and has competed in many open water swim races as well, including a 5 1/2 mile Great South Bay swim from Fire Island to Bay Shore, and  the 4.4 mile race across the Chesapeake Bay in Baltimore, MD. He also loves to fly fish, although it seems a little sedentary for this guy. 

“My favorite sports ever are cross-country skiing and swimming,” Starace said. “I will never get bored of those. They are free and a great way to stay in shape.”

It’s no wonder our Recreation Director Jen Zeisler said he is her “go-to” volunteer for most things. “He has an incredible energy about him,” she said. “He is always a person who will jump in and help and he’s happy to teach me while he is at it.”

Rich volunteers at Greenfield’s Summer Rec Camp as a lifeguard for water-related field trips. After spending nearly 30 years as a Business Education and 8th grade social studies teacher in Corinth, he loves working with children. He hopes to see the town continue to plan events to attract people to Nordic skiing. He loves the idea of broadening relationships with local elementary schools in Greenfield and Corinth to help kids experience the sport.

The trail he enjoys most is Brookhaven Winter Park’s Yellow trail, where he enjoys distance over the 12 kilometers of golf-course trails. He is proud of the dependable grooming and ever-pristine trails at Brookhaven. 

Starace said, “It is such a treasure to have this park that Greenfield can share with our residents and people from around the area. It’s just a great vibe to be around.” 

He revealed the best secret of Brookhaven Winter Park is that it is so cold up at Brookhaven that the snow seems to stay longer than anywhere else around.

Starace has lived in Greenfield since he got married 30 years ago to his wife Kathy. The couple have spent the past 21 years on Squashville Road and they have a grown son, Andrew, and daughter, Caroline, who now live out west.

“It is so incredible to have residents with this kind of passion and community spirit,” said Town Supervisor Kevin Veitch. “I’m enjoying getting to know volunteers like Rich and am so thankful he is a person we can count on. Greenfield is very lucky to have him.”

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