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Running notebook: Double the elevation, double the shirts

I had the chance to take part in a race in Akron on Saturday for the first time ever. It's obvious that the Independence Run is one of the leaders in running in two categories: shirts and hills.

At registration, organizers handed out the usual shirt for this year's race. Then they added a leftover shirt from a race two years ago, plus a water bottle, plastic mug, pen, etc. I felt pretty spoiled.

Then the race took place, and I felt less spoiled. After a brief drop from the starting line in downtown Akron, runners went more or less uphill for the next two miles. Akron Falls Park really is nice, but I was too busy panting at times to appreciate. Outside of runs in Chestnut Ridge, I can't remember more hills - with the possible exception of the Bunny Hop in East Aurora. But at least the final mile was downhill.

The weekend got off to a good start on Thursday night with the Old Home Days 5K. Here's the rest of the weekend schedule from buffalorunners.com:

* Tuscarora Nation 10K Ru8n, Tuscarora Indian Reservation in Lewiston, 9 a.m. on Saturday, 940-0852. This always comes close to the 4th of July 10K in Lancaster. Considering how few 10K races there are, it's easy to wonder if this race would do better in a different time slot. But it has been around in July for several years.

* Tom Drake Memorial 5K Thunderbird Club Run, Mayville Lakeside Park, 9 a.m. on Saturday, 607-0328.

* Bonafest 5K Run, Murphy Building on St. Bonaventure Campus, 9 a.m. on Saturday, 790-0056. This is billed as non-competitive but times will be taken and posted.

* Peaceprints 5K, Delaware Park in Buffalo, 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, 856-6131.

* Tim Frank Memorial Canal Fest Run, 4 miles, 325 Franklin St. in Tonawanda, 10 a.m. Sunday, 510-3971. This race had been a fixture on Thursday night, but Canal Fest organizers decided to use it to kick off the proceedings. It's always a good time, and the course is not exactly Akron Falls Park when it comes to changes in elevation.

* FG III Memorial 5K, Evans Town Park in Angola, 11 a.m. on Sunday, 598-9121.

--- Budd Bailey

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