And they’re off!: The start of the women’s 5-kilometer event during the Festival of Races has hundreds of fleet-footed females hoofing it on East Colvin Street near Manley Field House.
If you’re not up to a 5K, then check out the MVP Health Care 3K Fun and Fitness Run and the Dermody, Burke and Brown Community Fun(d) Walk. The walk is a way for nonprofit organizations to benefit from the festival. “Any nonprofit can use our event for their fund-raising purposes simply by having their members go out and solicit pledges,” said Dave Oja, race director.
Dermody, Burke & Brown, a locally owned certified public accounting firm, is keeping records of exactly how much is raised. “I want to have some precise numbers,” said Oja. So far this year about 22 nonprofit groups have taken advantage of the festival as a fund-raiser. “We really try to be as open and diverse a nonprofit fund-raiser as possible,” noted Oja. As in previous years, the nonprofits keep 100 percent of what they raise.
All four events take place on the same course, which starts on East Colvin Street, winds down to Barry Park, then turns around at Euclid Avenue. The shorter events only use part of the course. While it may seem like a path chosen only for its length, it is actually a special course.
Unlike nearly all other road race courses, this course is marked ahead of time with the shortest legal route. Also known as the “tangent,” that shortest possible route is carefully painted onto the pavement in 166 stenciled sections to help runners capitalize on their efforts. “We want to give people who really care about their times the opportunity to do their best,” explained Oja.
The course is also mentally and physically easier than many other 5K courses. It is a flat course and it does not have any sharp turns, but it is not as monotonous as an out-and-back course or a track. “Physiologically and mechanically it runs like a straight-ahead course, but psychologically it runs like a winding course,” said Oja. “There are a lot of different sections that are easy to see as easy sections. It breaks up nicely into pieces that people can focus on.”
The comfort and speed of the course attract many top-notch athletes from around the country and Central New York. “The festival has very talented people every year,” said Oja. The presence of so many great athletes raises the standard and gives less experienced runners a higher mark with which to challenge themselves. “The big-event feel of the festival inspires people to put in more effort,” said Oja.
The Syracuse Festival of Races is as much for occasional joggers as for experts. “We want to make sure those people have as good a time as people who are veteran road racers,” said Oja. “This is the step through the doorway from being a runner and an exerciser to someone who participates in road races.”
Registration is required for the men’s and women’s 5K races, and costs $17 by Friday, Oct. 3, and $20 on Saturday, Oct. 4, and Sunday, Oct. 5. Registration for the MVP Health Care 3K Fun & Fitness Run and the Dermody, Burke & Brown Community Fun(d) Walk prior to race morning costs $5 for ages 17 and younger and $10 for ages 18 and older. Registration will cost $15 for all ages on race morning. For more information about the events or registration, call Oja at 446-6285.