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Running notebook: Save the date

One of the lessons that's often preached to new race directors come in the form of picking an uncrowded weekend. The first two weeks of April are a good example why.

Last week, there were five 5-kilometer runs on the buffalorunners.com calendar. This week, there's one. Maybe having more of a balance would have worked for some of those races last week. In fairness, sometimes races have to go on a specific date because of a tie-in with the sponsoring organization. But usually, it good to look around a bit when setting a date.

By the way, the North Tonawanda Health Fair 5K attracted 271 runners last week. Perhaps the $10 entry fee for non-residents had something to do with that.

By the way, Sunday's Shoes for the Shelter Race was a News' Runner of the Year event. Aileen Hoak is two for two in wins already in the series, so she seems serious about having a good year.

Here's the short schedule for the weekend:

* Run Along Jericho Road 5K, 184 Barton St. in Buffalo, 9 a.m. Saturday, 374-3018. This takes a not-often-traveled path around the West Side. I think I heard a few different languages along the way, and some of the old architecture is very interesting. Good cause, too.

* BPAC 6-Hour Distance Classic, Northtown Center in Amherst, 8 a.m. Sunday. This event always bring out an impressive cast of runners, who score points just for running a good portion of the event - let alone finishing it.

Coming up on Sunday, I'll continue my conversation with Olympic gold medalist Frank Shorter, who will be in Boston again to be part of the television coverage of the marathon. His memories of last year make for dramatic reading, I believe.

-- Budd Bailey

Running notebook: What's the secret?

Here's a story about the nicest surprise of the 2014 race season so far.

The Mustache March was held on Saturday in Kenmore. First-year races sometimes struggle (to put it mildly), but this one didn't. The cap of 500 runners was hit well before race day, and the shirt promised to the first 200 runners were gone weeks before the start. About the only problem that I saw was one that many races would like to have - the building was a bit small for the crowd.

Let's hope it's the first in a series of success stories of 2014.

The calendar has flipped to April, which means the racing season begins in earnest. Here's the weekly rundown, courtesy of buffalorunners.com:

* Health Fair 5K Run, 1500 Vanderbilt Ave. in North Tonawanda, 9 a.m. Saturday, 807-3715. This has to be the cheapest race of the year, with a $5 charge for residents and $10 for non-residents. At a time when race fees have been going up, we'll see how this strategy works.

* Niagara University 5K Run Against Hunger, Dwyer Arena, 10 a.m. Saturday, 286-8711. It's nice to see Niagara back on the race calendar.

* Feel the Spirit 5K, 921 Cleveland Dr. in Cheektowaga, 11 a.m. Saturday, 380-0231. This is the current champion for most turns in a 5K race, although the Mustache March isn't far behind. The Feel the Spirit race also is very well done, with plenty of food and nice raffles.

* Boys on the Right Track 5K, 5324 Rogers Road in Hamburg, 8 a.m. Sunday, 316-1789. One of the earliest races of the year. No race-day registration, by the way.

* Canisius College Shoes for the Shelter 5K, Koessler Athletic Center, 10 a.m. Sunday, 888-2977. It's a News Runner of the Year series race. The course was moved last year out of Forest Lawn, and I can say first-hand that few people missed the big hills on the revised layout.

-- Budd Bailey

Running notebook: Justice coming?

For those of you who are still waiting for a refund for the half-marathon in Orchard Park in June 2012 that was never staged by the original organizer, help may be on the way.

The Indiana Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against Rapid Running, claiming that runners in five events including the one here lost almost $100,000 in entry fees. More details will be printed in Friday's editions of The News.

The weekly race calendar is still a week away from picking up, but here's what is going on this weekend - courtesy of buffalorunners.com:

* The Mustache March, 5K, Mang Park in Kenmore, 10 a.m. Saturday, 877-0477. Can't say I've seen many races that hand out mimosas after events, so this first-year race has a chance to be interesting even for the clean-shaven among us.

* Bemus Point 5K, Long Point State Park in Bemus Point, 9 a.m. Sunday, 488-0788.

Recently I had the chance to interview Frank Shorter, the 1972 gold medalist in the marathon. He certainly ranks as one of the most interesting people I've ever questioned, to the point where I couldn't put everything he said into one story. So Part One comes on Sunday in The News, when he discusses that marathon and its effect on him. Then in two weeks, I'll have his thoughts on the upcoming Boston Marathon. He'll be one of the television commentators for Universal Sports.

-- Budd Bailey

Running notebook: A winning effort

Newspaper types are known for their sense of humor, particularly with old friends. So when I saw Tom Burns right after the Shamrock Run, I asked him if he had won - since it would have made for a great follow-up column. Remember, Tom had suffered a heart attack after finishing the race last year. Tom said he was well back in the pack but felt fine and was happy to finish.

Actually, Tom deserves plenty of credit for finishing the race and for his fundraising efforts. He raised almost $5,000 in donations for the American Heart Association. Tom was getting donations less than 15 minutes from the start of the race.

More money will be raised this weekend in easier ways. Here's the calendar, courtesy of buffalorunners.com:

* Fight for Air Stairs Clumb, 38 flights, One HSBC Center, 10 a.m. Saturday, (585) 666-1402. I've heard there's little harder in running than going up flights of stairs if you aren't used to it, so the people participating are in for a good challenge. Proceeds to the American Lung Association.

* Dyslexia Dash, 5K, 2491 Emery Road in South Wales, 12 noon Sunday, 687-2017. Most races bill a fast and flat course, no matter what the topography looks like. This races says it has a "challenging course." I've heard there's a hill that would feel right at home in the Rockies. We'll see. Don't forget Daylight Savings Time starts the night before.

--- Budd Bailey

Running notebook: Luck of the Irish

About a week ago, organizers must have looked at the long-term forecast for their Shamrock Run and shivered. The early indications were that the traditional start to the racing season would be held in temperatures somewhere around eight degrees.

The numbers before and after Saturday have held up. But recently, the forecast for Saturday's temperature jumped in terms of temperature. We might see something around 35 degrees by racetime, which would be more than welcome after the last few days.

I heard some comments about the race officials running out of sizes of their premiums pretty quickly, but new shipments showed up later in the week. I'd call it more of a long-sleeve tech shirt than a jacket, but it worked out well on the treadmill today.

Yes, the Shamrock is the start of the Runner of the Year series. The full schedule will be released on Sunday in the newspaper. Here's the weekend rundown from buffalorunners.com:

* Shamrock Run, 8K, 62 Republic in Buffalo, 12 noon on Saturday, 856-8613 x108.

* Slush Rush, 5K, Dods Hall at SUNY Fredonia, 9 a.m. on Sunday, 673-3471.

--- Budd Bailey

Running notebook: Catching on

I hope you saw the article last Sunday on Tom Burns, as he attempts to raise money for the Heart Association while running the Shamrock Run. It's been picked up by a couple of television stations, and his donations have gone well past $3,000.

If you are looking to help out the cause, click here to go to his website for fundraising.

Hope you managed to squeeze in an outdoor run this week when the temperature went above freezing. And let's hope the cellars are runners everywhere stay dry.

It's a short calendar for running this weekend, as usual. Buffalorunners.com has the information:

* Polar Bear 5K, 1691 Lockport-Olcott Road in Olcott, 10 a.m. on Sunday, 434-8887. The usual rules - beat the bear, get a special shirt. But the bear is always pretty fast, at least by bear standards. And losing to the bear can be, um, grizzly.

* Canisius Chilly Challege, 1180 Delaware Ave. in Buffalo, 12 noon on Sunday, 882-0466 x262. This is the 35th running of this race, which makes it one of the oldest races in area and worth a big plug here. It's always been well run, and they have a number of categories including teams and family combinations. Even St. Joe's graduates have been known to enjoy the race, even if they don't admit it readily.

By the way, the pickup of jackets for the Shamrock Run starts this weekend. Go to the website for details about the procedure.

--- Budd Bailey

Running notebook; Countdown to the season

It's February, which means two things:

1. It's cold.

2. It's time to look over the Runner of the Year race calendar, as I pick out this year's races.

There may be a change or two in the schedule, depending on how the dates fall as I try to come up with a balanced calendar. The tough part centers around the substitution of the Fleet Feet 15K for the Biggest Loser Half-Marathon. But I am quick to add that the season will begin on March 1 with the Shamrock Run, as usual.

I hope to have the schedule in place in two weeks for that weekend's column. In the meantime, you can read this week about a fundraising effort by a local runner at the Shamrock, and a brand-new area running club.

In the meantime, here's the one race on this weekend's slate, courtesy of buffalorunners.com:

* Snowball Run, 5K, 701 Seneca St. in Buffalo, 10 a.m. on Saturday, 440-7507. It's a new location for this event, as it shifts to the Larkin Center. This has been a nice little race in the past, so it's easy to wish it well in the new home.

-- Budd Bailey

Running notebook: Brief respite

Tell me how many people had this experience this past week:

They saw the sunny conditions on Tuesday and went out for a rare outside run ... only to see eight inches of snow land on the formerly cleared streets and parkways on Wednesday.

And so ... back inside. I felt a little like the Groundhog in Pennsylvania, who saw his shadow and headed back into the ground. Six more weeks of this? Bah humbug, to mix a metaphor.

Here's the weekly race calendar, again on the very small side, from buffalorunners.com:

* The Lockport Y-10, 10 miles and 5 miles, 19 East Ave. in Lockport, 10 a.m. on Satuday, 434-8887. I often hear arguments that this should be a News Runner of the Year race. My reply is that the elements can play too big a role in this race to be a fair test. Besides, I like the idea that the season starts with the Shamrock Run. The Y-10 is a good race, and I'm happy it attracts plenty of runners who are loyal to it. I just don't see it as a great fit for the series. No disgrace in that; it will do fine without it.

* Olean Polar Bear Series, 5K, Wellsville YMCA, 1 p.m. on Sunday, 373-2400.

Finally, our sympathies to local runner Tom Proctor, whose wife recently passed away.

--- Budd Bailey

Running notebook: Shiver me timbers

Miss those morning runs in sub-zero temperatures earlier in the week? I didn't think so.

It hasn't been a particular easy winter for those of us who like to get outside on a crisp January day. Sunday's column is about a couple of people who seem to thrive under such conditions - the winners of the Penguin Run.

Even though the temperatures won't be in a single digits this weekend, this week's event should offer a challenge for those interested in a winter race. The calendar is from buffalorunners.com:

* Ice Man 2-Mile, Parkside Lodge at Delaware Park in Buffalo, 10 a.m. Saturday. The format for this race has changed for this one. As of this writing the weather forecast is for some sort of precipitation, but no one is sure if it will be snow, sleet or rain. That should add an interesting element to the proceedings.

* Mr. Ed's Super Bowl Warm-Up, 5K, Middleport Fire Hall on Main St. in Middleport, 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, (585) 798-3283. I really should get to Middleport in the summertime some time. It looks nice. I usually only visit on the morning of the Super Bowl for this race. Who wouldn't want to tackle the toughest hill in Western New York racing? Nice party too.

Finally, our condolences go out to veteran runner Fred Luongo, whose wife Melanie recently passed away.

-- Budd Bailey

Running notebook: Catching up

The winter break is over, at least in terms of races. That means it's time to revive the weekly running blog. We're a little behind here, so let's catch up on some stories before getting to the weekend race:

* Sympathies go out to the family of Jason DeJoy, who died earlier this month. He was a fine cross-country coach in the Rochester area (Pittsford Mendon) and a middle school teacher. DeJoy is best known in Western New York for winning the Turkey Trot in 2000 and 2001. Based on the tributes written about him across the state (he went to the University at Albany), he'll be greatly missed.

* The Mighty Niagara Half Marathon has announced that it is altering its finish line for its coming race in the fall. The race went through a muddy part of the state park, and one runner said the finish could be a bit "unpredictable." The course will stay on the roads this year. In addition, the 5K course has been changed to make it logistically easier - as in no more shuttles.

* I attended Thursday night's meeting of race directors in Buffalo, and the turnout on a cold night was very impressive. There must have been a couple of dozen new faces there who either will run races or who are thinking about taking on such a task. I had a chance to talk to some of them after the formal part of the program and detected a lot of enthusiasm. This can only be a good sign for running's immediate future locally.

* I've been an admirer of Diane Sardes and her fine photography at races over the years. However, I was always afraid that somehow one of her photographs would pop up in The News, since the newspaper didn't have the rights to her work and the photos do circulate among local runners. I managed to avoid that fate for several years, but the photo in Sunday's running column slipped past me. I did quickly add her name as a credit to the web version, but still feel suitably awful about my mistake. Consider this my public apology, with the hope I'll be more diligent in the future.

It's a short race calendar, but buffalorunners.com is on the job as usual:

* The Penguin Run, 5K, 2425 Niagara Falls Blvd in Amherst, 11 a.m. Sunday, 549-6307 x201. It sounds like this year's race will be appropriately named, since temperatures might not be a double digits. That would be a record low for running outside for me.

Which raises the question: How many people haven't stopped running outside this week, and don't plan to stop next week either? Drop me a line at [email protected]

-- Budd Bailey

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