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The Gunks Cast Celebrates Fitness and Life in the Hudson Valley

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All photos courtesy of The Gunks Cast

The Shawangunk Mountains, located in Ulster, Sullivan, and Orange Counties, are an epicenter for fitness junkies in the Hudson Valley.  

Did you know that the Hudson Valley is home to top triathletes, endurance athletes, and runners? If you live in the Hudson Valley, you surely know the gorgeous Shawangunk Mountains. But what you may not realize is how essential the mountain range is to fitness connoisseurs, triathletes, and businesses throughout the region. The Gunks Cast, hosted by Glenn LaPolt and Jeff Weiss and produced by Tom Hein, explores the importance of the ‘Gunks for the region and those who inhabit it.  

Weiss and LaPolt recording a podcast episode

Who Is Glenn LaPolt? 

Glenn LaPolt is a beloved history teacher at Wallkill Senior High School and a New Paltz native. Growing up in the Valley was very influential to his love of running, biking, and swimming. “I’m a big believer in move a muscle, change a thought,” remarks LaPolt, who loves fitness for the physical and mental benefits. He is a big believer in fitness for everyone, including children, which is why he has started and is involved in many races and kids’ races, such as the SOS 4 Kids, here in the Hudson Valley. LaPolt has also racked up quite the race record himself, participating in two Iron Mans, multiple Half Iron Mans, the SOS Triathlon 12 times, The Blue Hill Cabin Challenge, and the Stage of the Eight Bridges, just to name a few. He even swam from the Poughkeepsie to the Newburgh-Beacon bridge (because why not, right?).  

The Gunks Cast Glenn LaPolt

Glenn LaPolt (front) and the podcast team at Pilates of New Paltz

“What makes the Hudson Valley and specifically the Shawangunks unique is the accessibility of the area. I can walk right from my backyard in New Paltz and end up on a trail or carriage road,” says LaPolt. No other place in the United States is quite like this area, especially when it comes to training for triathletes. It’s no wonder why so many endurance athletes train in the area.  

A Podcast Dedicated to the ‘Gunks 

The Gunks Cast podcast launched in April 2022 when Weiss suggested that he and LaPolt should do a podcast about the Blue Hill Cabin Challenge. Weiss is a fitness junkie himself, being involved early on in the Blue Hill Cabin Challenge, participating as race director for the SOS 4 Kids, and teaming up with LaPolt to help with other races such as The Under the Stars at Morningstar 3.5-mile run and the Recovery Ride Cycling event.

The Blue Hill Cabin Challenge is a race started by LaPolt. “I have a family cabin; I always loved spending time there. One day driving up, I got the idea of starting a [cycling] race to the cabin,” says LaPolt. The first race had seven of his friends, and the course was from New Paltz to Denning. Today, the event is very popular with a cap on 80 cyclists and four rides that can be chosen (the Cabin Challenge Full Monty, Cabin Challenge Originale, the Fondo, and the Fonduece).  

The Gunks Cast Running

There have been many notable guests on the podcast including Don Davis, the founder of the SOS Triathlon; Phil Vondra, who set the record for climbing 33 Catskill peaks in three days, 10 hours – which added to be a total of 32,000 feet of elevation and 104 miles of hiking; Elise Bacon, founder of Pilates of New Paltz; Mike Halstead, a local cancer/MS survivor who undertook a cross-country cycling tour for charity, and many others.

“This area is really home to the who’s who of triathletes, endurance runners, and climbers. There are all these amazing people living humbly among us,” notes LaPolt. His wife, Melissa, has also made an appearance on the podcast multiple times. She is an endurance athlete herself, completing the Iron Man, finishing the SOS Triathlon seven times, and being involved in putting on the SOS 4 Kids. Fitness is a family affair, as LaPolt states she is his “partner in crime.” 

The Gunks Cast Guest

Don Davis, Founder of the SOS Triathlon

The Gunks Cast will soon feature Katherine Switzer, the first woman to ever run the Boston Marathon and a Hudson Valley native, to discuss her experience. The podcast has also been known to record at local businesses near the Shawangunks, including Base Camp, Pilates of New Paltz, and Rabble Rise Doughnuts. A new episode of the podcast comes out every Tuesday morning.  

There are many ways to listen to the podcast, such as by searching The Gunks Cast on Apple Podcast or Spotify (or just listen and learn more here). Be sure to tune in to hear about major ventures that are in the works for the new year, including a fitness event to raise money for alcohol addiction.

Related: 3 Hudson Valley Podcasts Dig Into Food, Farming, and Local Fare

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