The addition of a sixth competition to the Syrathon 2010 race series changes the challenge considerably. Last year’s race series topped out at 26.1 miles, a mere 528 feet away from marathon distance yet close enough to bestow a New Times Salt City pun on it. Nearly 6,000 runners registered for the 2009 races, which coursed through 10 city neighborhoods, hundreds of acres of city parks and many unexpected vistas.
“The park at four miles into the Mountain Goat, Onondaga Park, I never knew that park was there,” says John Ferrini. “I’ve never been there before.” A novice runner, Ferrini was one of only 24 participants who completed the entire series; his fiancée Brandi Trumble is another. “What an incredible view of downtown and Carrier Dome from up there.”
Eliciting such a reaction was part of the reason the Syracuse Department of Parks, Recreation and Youth Programs partnered with Fleet Feet Sports and the Syracuse New Times on last year’s Syrathon. The city is full of greenspace jewels, many of which go largely unnoticed by both urban and suburban dwellers.
In chronological order, runners can participate in these races: the Tipperary Hill Shamrock Run, Saturday, March 6; the Mountain Goat Run, Sunday, May 2; Paige’s Butterfly Run, Saturday, June 5; the newest entry, the self-explanatory Inner Harbor 5K, Aug. 29; the Strathmore Parks Run, Sunday, Sept. 26; and the Eastwood Park-to-Park Autumn Run, Sunday, Oct. 17.
Now about the new challenge. The addition of the Inner Harbor 5K to the mix means 3.1 more miles to the series total. And 29.2 miles is closer to an ultramarathon 50K distance. What to do? “With this new race,” explains Matt Werder of Fleet Feet, “the challenge becomes covering 26.2 miles, and you have to run in four of six races to get a Syrathon shirt. And those who run all the races also get a medal.”
And now, participants can take pride in the fact that Syrathon is an award-winning entity. On Thursday, Feb. 18, word came down that the race series won the Central New York Recreation & Park Society’s Exceptional Program Award. The Parks Department, led by Commissioner Pat Driscoll, will receive the award at a luncheon this Friday in East Syracuse. No word yet if Syrathon won on the state level as well.
While they appreciate the technical-fabric shirts and proudly display their medals, Ferrini and Trumble didn’t run every Syrathon race for those goodies. But they helped. “One thing that was nice was the drawings at each of the races for gift certificates and different prizes,” notes Trumble, who works as a licensed practical nurse for Family Medicine Associates Cicero office. “My name got drawn at one of them, and I won a gift certificate from Phoebe’s restaurant.” Courtesy of The New Times, by the way.
As for running every race, that wasn’t part of any plan. “It didn’t start off as intentional,” Trumble adds. “But after we did the first run, we thought, we’ll do all of them. And they were all good races. Each race, the activities that they have and the amount of volunteers and support for each, were wonderful.”
With such variety of distances and venues, it’s surprising only 24 runners completed all five races. “I can’t believe more people didn’t do all the runs last year,” says Ferrini, who owns Vacuums Galore, 680 Old Liverpool Road, Liverpool. “Most of those races are the bigger ones in Syracuse anyway, and we were going to race them regardless. My problem is my shop is open on Saturdays, so with a Saturday race, I’d have to open late.”
While organizers would like to see greater participation in the entire series, everyone is eligible to win prizes donated by each entity. Before each race, visit the Fleet Feet table and enter your name for a drawing for such goodies as Fleet Feet gift certificates, restaurant gift certificates from The New Times and recreational passes from the Parks Department. Like last year, there will be a grand prize drawing at the end of the series, including the chance to win a flat-screen television. The more races you run, the greater your chance of winning.
A good starting point for race registration is the race calendar at www.fleetfeetsyracuse.com. From there you can link to any of the race’s own Web sites, and register as you go. Registration for Tipp Hill, the Mountain Goat and Paige’s Butterfly Run are now open. Remember, too, that your fee will help support nonprofits that are linked with each of these races (see accompanying story).
Whether you compete to win, are a mid-packer or just want to get started, each of the Syrathon races has something to offer you. Ferrini sums it up: “It’s wholesome, it’s clean, it’s safe, it’s fun, it’s good exercise and something almost everyone in the family can do. The running community in Syracuse is absolutely fantastic. It’s been great to do this, and it’s great to surround yourself with such a good group of people.”
Six races spread out over a seven-month period makes for a satisfying and full racing season. The beauty of living in Syracuse, however, is that there is usually a race almost every weekend, sometimes on the same day. While those races aren’t part of Syrathon 2010, you can use them to flesh out your running calendar and further enhance your fitness. And it ups the fun quotient considerably.
Tipperary Hill Shamrock Run, Saturday, March 6, 11 a.m., Burnet Park; a 4-mile run through the hilly, historically Irish part of town. A 1-meter (.6-mile) kid’s fun run starts at 10 a.m. Registration costs $20; $30 on race day; $5 for the fun run. Benefits the Tipperary Hill Neighborhood Association. www.tipphillrun.com.
Mountain Goat Run, Sunday, May 2, 10:15 a.m., Clinton Square; a 10-mile run up and down some of Syracuse’s most challenging hills. A half-mile kid’s chase begins at 9:20 a.m., and a 3K walk/run starts at 9:45 a.m. Some runners will participate in both the 3K and the 10-mile races. A post-race party, with free Michelob Ultra beer, begins at 11:45 a.m. Early registration costs $25, $40 on race day for the Mountain Goat; $14 early registration, $20 on race day for the 3K; $5 for the kids’ run. Benefits several charities set up through the Mountain Goat Foundation. www.mountaingoatrun.com.
Paige’s Butterfly Run, Saturday, June 5, 9 a.m., Federal Building, 100 S. Clinton St. The 5K run kicks off at 9 a.m., a 40-foot Caterpillar Crawl for children 5 and younger starts at 9:45 a.m., and a 5K fun run/walk begins at 10 a.m. The 5K run heads north on Franklin Street before winding through the North Side, and along the Inner Harbor, before heading back downtown. Registration before May 29 costs $20; after May 29, it’s $30. The Caterpillar Crawl is free. Paige’s Butterfly Run benefits pediatric cancer research and patient programs at Golisano Children’s Hospital at University Hospital. www.paigesbutterflyrun.org.
Inner Harbor 5K, Saturday, Aug. 29, 9 a.m., begins and ends at the Syracuse Inner Harbor at Van Rensselaer and West Kirkpatrick Streets. An 8:30 a.m. Children’s Rainbow Run is a mile long and is free. The 5K registration is to be announced and proceeds benefit It’s All About Children & Family. www.innerwealth.org.
Parks Run, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2 p.m. Four challenging miles in the picturesque and somewhat hilly Strathmore neighborhood. The run begins at 2 p.m. from Hiawatha Lake at Onondaga Park and climbs Woodland Reservoir before heading back down; kid’s fun run immediately follows. Race fees are to be announced and proceeds benefit the Greater Strathmore Neighborhood Association and Sarah House, 100 Roberts Ave. www.strathmoreparksrun.com.
Park-to-Park Autumn Run, some of the prettiest 5 miles you’ll find anywhere, takes place Sunday, Oct. 17, 10 a.m., during the height of fall foliage season. Especially nifty here is a hill leading up to the Henninger High School track, which you circle once on your way to the finish line. Registration rates are to be determined. Proceeds benefit the Eastwood Neighborhood Association. www.eastwoodneighbor.com.