I hadn't spoken with John before the interview, and found him funny and interesting. It's always fun to talk with people who have strong opinions, and I certainly got an earful when I brought up the state of running locally.
"I think what's happening in Western New York is wonderful. There are more people running that ever before, and it's marvelous," Chew said. "But the quality of running is so bad it's embarrassing. If we are going to be a viable national sport, we have to clean up some things."
Chew pointed out that while there are plenty of races in Western New York, most of them raise money for charity.
"The focus today is on raising money for somebody else, whether its leukemia, cancer, the Y. There's no money going into the sport," Chew said. "When I ran my first Turkey Day race, we lined up at the Delaware Y, gave five cents to Carl Roesch, and ran the race. All the money went to the local sports. At the end some money went to charities, but there was money to support the sport and bid the race.
"When I look at entry feeds are today, if I were a single runner, I'd barely have enough money to eat, let alone support running. ... We're the only sport I can think of where the money gets siphoned to other areas."
It's going to be a very busy weekend for races around Western New York this weekend. Funny how some June weekend dates are jammed, while others are rather empty. The activity actually started on Thursday night with the Gay 5K, which sounded like it had a chance to be a fun event. Now the rest of the calendar, courtesy of Buffalorunners.com:
* Alden's 5K Race for Scholarships, 13190 Park St. in Alden, 6:30 p.m. Friday, 937-9116. Me, I only run in Alden when it is 14 degrees out. That February day during a Winterfest remains about the coldest race of my life.
* Brian Dugan Memorial Scholarship 5K Road Race, Lincoln Arena in Tonawanda, 6:30 p.m. Friday. Make sure to drink up during the water stops.
* Woods Walk & Trail Run, various distances, 1420 Yubadam Road in Portville, 8 a.m. Saturday, 933-0187.
* Finn McCool 4 Mile Odyssey, Griffis Sculpture Park in East Otto, 9 a.m. Saturday, 830-6703.
* Run the 'Berg for Autism, 5K, 4236 Clark St. in Hamburg, 11 a.m. Saturday, 572-3613. There's a new course this year; I still remember all the turns on the old one.
* Salmon Run, 5K, Clark's Park in Wilson, 5 p.m. on Saturday, 751-6120.
* Derby Snap Fitness 5K Run, 6950 Erie Road in Derby, 9 a.m. Sunday, 947-9010.
* Juneteenth Run for Health, 5K only, 585 William St. in Buffalo, 9:30 a.m. Sunday, 830-6560. The 10K, run at the same time, has been cancelled. This is always a friendly race; I've done it several times.
* Girls on the Run 5K, UB/Amherst campus, 9:30 a.m. Sunday, 645-6815. I've followed Girls on the Run since it started locally, and can't wait to see how it's grown at one of its two races for the year.
* Tim Oehmler 5K for Kidneys, Delaware Park in Buffalo, 10 a.m. Sunday, 510-6702. Runners get a free pass to see the Zoo after the race.
And don't forget the Grace Race in Williamsville on Tuesday night.
-- Budd Bailey