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Running notebook: Cash on the line

As you are about to read below, it's a crowded field of races this weekend. That's to be expected in September around here, perhaps our best month of the year for staging races.

The ECMC's Lifetime Foundation race is of the most interest. That event has tried to strategy of handing out prize money in an effort to attract runners. This year the number is up to $4,000.

I do wonder about that. Last year, that race did 213 runners. That's not bad, but remember the prize money comes off the top of any charitable donation. And it's easy to wonder if the mediocre runners out there (that would be someone like me) wouldn't find prize money attractive, since they'd have no chance of winning, and go elsewhere. The Linda Yalem Run, again held the day after the ECMC race, did more than 1,000 runners last year. Granted that race has a large college campus as a target audience -- more than 200 women and 150 women in the 15-24 age-groups took part in the event. Other races have tried prize money as well, with similar results. 

I like the idea of having some sort of 5K championship among local runners, featuring the best of the best, but I'm unconvinced that such a race leads to mass participation. Hope I'm wrong.

Here's the busy weekend slate, courtesy of buffalorunners.com:

* Give for Greatness 5K, Hamlin Park in East Aurora, 9 a.m. Saturday, 491-5794.

* Run in the Country, 5K, 3755 Tonawanda Creek Road in Amherst, 9:30 a.m. Saturday, 860-0524.

* ECMC Lifeline Foundation WNY Runs for Heroes, Parkside Lodge at Delaware Park in Buffalo, 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, 898-5800.

* Autum Challenge, Sprague Brook Park in Glenwood, 10 a.m. Saturday.

* Jill Mattice Memorial 5K Run, Cleveland Hill High School in Cheektowaga, 11 a.m. on Saturday, 435-9023.

* Parkside Oktoberfest, 5K, Delaware Park in Buffalo, 5 p.m. on Saturday, 838-1240.

* Bemus Point 15K, Long Point State Park's Upper Pavillion, 9 a.m. Sunday, 488-0788.

* Linda Yalem Safety Run 5K, Alumni Arena at UB's Amherst Campus, 9:30 a.m. Sunday, 645-2731.

* Miles for Haiti, 2-Hour Run, 9535 Clarence Center Road in Clarence Center, 2 p.m. Sunday, 868-1232. I'll have more on this race in Sunday's column.

-- Budd Bailey

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