You know road racing season is upon us when there is chatter of several thousands runners’ impending descent upon Tipperary Hill for the seventh annual four-mile race around the traditionally Irish neighborhood. Since its beginnings in 2006, the Shamrock Run, taking place Saturday, March 10, has unofficially kicked off the training run series for the longer and hillier Mountain Goat Run, scheduled for May 6. And so Syrathon goes through late October, with the Eastwood 5-mile race.
Four years ago, the brain trust at Syracuse City Parks and Fleet Feet approached the Syracuse New Times about joining forces for a race series that would encourage, and reward, participation in a number of races that run through, or adjacent to, city parks. And so the Syrathon race challenge was born. In the intervening years, Syrathoners have welcomed more and more runners, celebrated the wedding of a couple that has run every race every year, and witnessed the growth of the challenge to now include eight races.
Because Syrathon 2012 has added Valley Nature in the City, a four-mile run on Aug. 18, and A Run For Their Life, with 15-kilometer and 5K options, on Oct. 14, the challenge has changed. Runners who complete the longest distances of all eight races will have covered 42.5 miles and will earn the title UltraSyrathoner. Those less inclined, although still mighty motivated, can opt for the traditional Syrathon, accumulating 26.2 marathon miles throughout the March-to-October race series.
Either choice will give runners the chance to win prizes, earn a Syrathon T-shirt and receive a medal. UltraSyrathoners will have their names considered for a special, end-of-season raffle. If you want a Syrathon 2012 tech shirt, you must register for the challenge by June 2 and participate in every race. You can also enter for prizes at the Fleet Feet table at each race.
“We want everyone to feel welcome to participate,” said Chris Abbott, program director for the Syracuse Department of Parks, Recreation and Youth Programs. “Even if you do one or two of these neighborhood races, there’s still the race-day prize drawings and the atmosphere of running through a city park and a city neighborhood. If this is your first venture into road running, you’re still guaranteed to have a good time and improve your fitness.”
Here are the races in a nutshell. Since so many of them are later in the season, many details aren’t firmed up. We suggest you check back as race dates get closer.
Tipp Hill Shamrock Run. Four miles, with a kids’ fun run at 10 a.m., and the race at 11 a.m. Meet at the Coleridge Avenue entrance to Burnet Park. Saturday, March 10. Race day entry fee is $35; the fun run costs $5. Green attire is encouraged to help you get up those hellish hills; front-porch and street corner musicians make the trek even more enjoyable. tipphillrun.com.
Mountain Goat Run. The main event here (and the one that will help you become an UltraSyrathoner) is the legendary 10-mile run up and down some of the city’s fiercest hills as they lead into and out of Onondaga and Thornden parks. Goat race-day entry peaks at $50. If you’re not ready for that race, try the 3K through downtown; kids can enjoy a romp of their own. Festivities get under way Sunday, May 6, at 9:15 a.m. Prepare yourself for those hills during the training run series, March 24 to April 28. This year, a $5 fee will be charged to help offset the cost of police presence and traffic control. mountaingoatrun.com.
Paige’s Butterfly Run. A fun 5K run along portions of the Creekwalk and Leavenworth Park, for a terrific cause: the Center for Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders at Golisano Children’s Hospital. A 3K and children’s caterpillar crawl complete the lineup. June 2, 9 a.m. is when the main event starts at North Franklin Street near the Federal Building. Race-day registration is $40. paigesbutterflyrun.org.
Valley Nature in the City Run. Two years old, this 4-mile race includes a hilly mile through the old-growth forest Rand Tract, a little-known jewel off Valley Drive. The race begins and ends at Meachem Field, West Seneca Turnpike, Aug. 18, at a time to be announced. Race-day registration is $25. getentered.com.
Inner Harbor 5K. With a start/finish at the Inner Harbor, West Kirkpatrick Street, this 3.1-mile run also highlights Leavenworth Park and the Creekwalk. A 1-mile children’s run is part of the morning as well. Aug. 26, 9 a.m. Race-day entry costs $30. innerwealth.org.
Strathmore Parks Run. This scenic 4-mile run through Onondaga Park, in this Southwest Side neighborhood, includes a trip around Woodlawn Reservoir, with stunning views of the city below. Free Gannon’s ice cream served to all runners. Sept. 23, 2 p.m. Register on race day for $25. strathmoreparksrun.com.
A Run for Their Life. These races, run to benefit the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fun, premiered last year, and feature a 5K and tough 15K race. Both races start at Clarendon Street and Ostrom Avenue, near Thornden Park, and end at Manley Field House’s Comstock Avenue entrance. The website does not have registration information posted yet, although you can save Oct. 14 as the date. Be sure to check cmbarunfortheirlife.com as summer progresses.
Eastwood Park-to-Park Autumn Run. This 5-mile race through the city’s East Side neighborhood features fall foliage, friendly fans and a fantastic finish around Henninger High School’s track. More information to follow at eastwoodneighbor.com.