Burning Up the Roads
The frenzy of a Syracuse road race season keeps subsiding but that doesn’t mean there aren’t miles to run and medals to collect. A growing favorite takes place Sunday, Nov. 11, with a much-appreciated addition this year. The Burn Run, which benefits the Clark Burn Treatment Center at Upstate University Hospital, enters its sixth year with a new 10-kilometer race to accompany the traditional 5K. And some crazy runners have registered to run both.
“The 5K is the first stepping stone in anybody’s running career,” said race director John Minnick, a runner and triathlete, as well as a firefighter with the East Syracuse Fire Department, which puts on the race each year. “Many of those runners have now graduated to the 10K, so it’s a huge win for us and gives us a graduated increase in the size of the race. If you’re a new runner—or just prefer the distance—we’ll always have the 5K.”
What sets these races apart, however, is the affordable race fee: $15 if you registered before Oct. 31, $20 until Nov. 10 and $25 on race day. If you choose to double up on the races, just plan on spending twice as much. It’s made easier when you realize all proceeds go to benefit the Burn Center.
“We’re going to keep the affordable registration fee,” Minnick said, “because the larger opportunity here is to create the knowledge base and create the interest in the Burn Center. We could increase the price, but we want to put in people’s minds the cause and the success of the cause.”
The Burn Center is a four-bed intensive care unit at Upstate that provides burn care to victims, both children and adults, from a 27-county region of upstate New York. Local firefighters founded the Burn Foundation of Central New York two years ago to support the mission of the Burn Center.
“This is an all-volunteer organization,” explained Jim Ennis, a 36-year Syracuse firefighter and chair of the foundation. “Our mission is to promote and assist the mission of the Clark Burn Center. We are able to provide funds for things the burn unit needs.”
Beyond monetary support, the foundation also organizes and finances social activities for burn survivors, most notably sending them to Burn Summer Camp, held at Vanderkamp in Cleveland, N.Y., on the north shore of Oneida Lake; previous summer camps took place in Horseheads. “Burn Camp provides an outlet for kids who are burn survivors and that are experiencing the same types of problems—disfigurements or psychological issues—to hang out with other kids and be themselves.” The foundation recently held a pre-Halloween event at the East Syracuse Fire Department, Station 2, and at DeWitt’s Maxwell Park.
“The support that we’ve given these kids has changed and positively impacted many, many kids over the last couple of years because now they have a place to go,” said Minnick. “The children that have severe burns—a lot of them look like they don’t fit in. Here, everybody can come together and we stress that you are you and you are a wonderful person and, oh, by the way, I see that you have a burn.”
Since it began in 2007, the Burn Run has raised more than $25,000. Part of the success can be attributed to the worthy cause the race fees support, but this year the addition of the 10K is key. And if you choose to run both races—their starting times were devised to allow that to happen—then you’ve completed a 15K, and Minnick intends to reward those runners (guilty as charged).
“I talked to Pat Leone,” Minnick said of the owner of Leone Timing, which is providing timing for the race, and said, ‘Tell me everything you want me to do so we can time this race successfully, and so I can merge the two times together and give people an award for running a 15K.’ Now we have an entire niche of runners who want to run the 15K and can say they won a special award for doing that.”
The 5K race starts at 9 a.m., with the 10K to follow at 10 a.m. Impressive food, beverages and music from deejay Tom Clark round out the morning. The races start and end at the East Syracuse Fire Department’s Station 2, 148 Sanders Creek Parkway, DeWitt (near Carrier Circle), and traverse the Franklin Park neighborhood of East Syracuse. Registration can be done online at theburnrun.org, or by visiting eastsyracuse fire.com and downloading a printable registration form. Parking on race day is available at the Bank of New York Mellon, 111 Sanders Creek Parkway, DeWitt.
It’s all too easy to tune out the surrounding world while going through the motions of a daily routine. Notable buildings, local landmarks and revered monuments suddenly become part of life’s background, reduced to mere set dressing for the more pressing obligations that consume our attention every day.
Every once in a while, it’s worth re-examining our environment in a whole new context. The Updowntowners of Syracuse, a community organization committed to promoting the social and economic growth of downtown, is looking to remind both residents and out-of-towners alike that Onondaga County can still be the setting for numerous adventures. They are initiating an afternoon of exploration in the form of a photographic road rally called “Take Your Shot: Picture This,” which starts at PJ’s Pub & Grill, 116 Walton St., Sunday, Nov. 11, at noon.
Updowntowners member Anne Goehner, a co-chair of the event, drew inspiration from the globe-trotting reality television competition The Amazing Race when brainstorming “Picture This.” “Every once in a while on the show, they give the contestants a picture of something and they have to find out where it is. It was kind of based on that idea,” she explained.
The event, which can be described as a sort of shutterbug scavenger hunt, requires participants to enlist in teams of two or more. Upon participants’ arrival, the Updowntowners will distribute a top-secret packet of 25 photos of specific landmarks. Participants are then tasked to seek out the locations depicted in the images and take new pictures of themselves within the framing and composition of the photos they’ve been given. “We want it to basically be an identical picture, but with the person in it,” said Goehner.
Points will be awarded to each team according to criteria that includes speed and photographic accuracy. There is another way, however, for contestants to increase their chances at earning some additional kudos. “If you get a picture of yourself and your navigator in the same photo, you’ll get extra bonus points,” hinted Updowntowners president Bill Cooper.
The photos, which are organized in the packet at random, won’t indicate a specific path; strategizing an itinerary is a responsibility that falls in the lap of each team. “We planned out an efficient route hoping that if people recognize where the pictures are, they will have a fairly efficient route to find them as well,” said Goehner. Time is a factor during the contest, with faster teams completing the photo hunt garnering more points than their more meandering competition.
The finish line for “Picture This” is at Sharkey’s Sports Bar & Restaurant, 7240 Oswego Road, Liverpool. In addition to serving as the venue for the distribution of the $200 first prize and other winners’ rewards, there will also be ongoing food and drink specials taking place throughout the evening.
Sharkey’s owner Jim Nichols, who is helping to market “Picture This” with prominent mentions in his bar’s radio commercials, is eager to sponsor Central New York teams and causes within the community he now calls home since moving from California a few years ago. “It’s a win-win for both of us,” said Nichols.
The locations depicted in the competition’s photos are being kept under firm lock and key by all involved with the contest. “Even Bill Cooper doesn’t know where any of them are,” said Goehner. She did divulge, however, that she and Updowntowners program director Josie Losurdo have chosen a wide variety of photographic subjects that range from the easily identifiable to the relatively obscure.
“There should be things, especially for local people, that they will be able to recognize fairly readily, and those would obviously be the simpler ones, but there are other things where they might have no idea where they are,” said Goehner. “They’re free to ask anybody on the street if they recognize it and they can give them some pointers on where to find it.”
Goehner’s advocacy for seeking assistance from strangers should come as no surprise: Public outreach has been an integral part of the Updowntowners’ mission since their formation in 1980. The 60-member volunteer group has a penchant for devising fun, inclusive activities that can help raise money for other community events; their funds distribution policy requires them to allocate 40 percent of profits to helping other community organizations and beneficiaries.
Unfortunately, difficulties generating interest in recent years have complicated some of their long-established traditions. “Party in the Plaza,” a long-running signature event for the organization, ran its course in 2009 after 25 years due to factors such as a drop in attendance resulting from the competition of similar area events.
Their new strategy is to create successful smaller events, such as chili and chowder cook-offs, which can be implemented at a lower cost. “Picture This” falls into this category, and Goehner is hoping it can possibly be the start of a new Updowntowners’ event tradition. “If it turns out that there’s enough demand, we figure it’s an event we can hold maybe a couple times a year, like once in the spring and once in the fall or something like that,” she said.
Goehner feels that “Picture This” is a fun opportunity for enterprising fun-seekers to help promote Syracuse and Onondaga County while relishing in the community at the same time. “Our main purpose is keeping people active in the community; that’s why we’re still producing events, even if they’re on a smaller scale like this is,” she said. “Hopefully it’ll keep people out there seeing things in their neighborhood that they never knew were there.”
There is a $12 entry fee per person, or $10 if you preregister by Wednesday, Nov. 7. For more information and registration details, visit the Updowntowners Facebook page.