The presents have been presented, the eats eaten and the drinks drunk.
Now it’s time to get back on track, or start a fitness regimen. In this
run-happy town, it’s tough to go a weekend without a road race, and just
because it’s holiday time doesn’t mean there aren’t any; here we detail
four. And should there be snow, don’t let that deter you: Running is a
four-season sport and runners are a hardy lot. Choose any or all of
these upcoming runs, and you’ll be sure to get a leg (or foot) up on the
Tuesday, Jan. 1, 10:07 a.m.
689 N. Clinton St.
Thirty-four years ago, the nascent Syracuse Track Club decided a New Year’s Day fun run was in order. Participants were told not to wear watches, found out the distance of the run when they registered that morning, and predicted the time it would take them to run it, writing the minutes and seconds on an index card. While some of the spirit of those first years, with Hullar’s restaurant in Fayetteville as home base, remains, the run has grown to truly epic proportions.
“For the 2000 race, Hullar’s decided they couldn’t accommodate us,” said race director Don Hughes. “So we had to find another venue. We had been using Spaghetti Warehouse for our annual meetings, so we thought why not, and we’ve been there ever since. It accommodates the hundreds we get much better than Hullar’s.” And it’s more centrally located.
While the run is timed (meaning there is a clock at the start/finish line), there aren’t formal results per se. Runners will learn of the exact distance on race morning—somewhere between six and eight miles, Hughes hinted—but there are some standbys that won’t be eliminated.
“We like to include the John Street hill,” added Hughes. “That’s become a tradition. The beginning of the run is kind of standard, but where you go from there, you can go all over. You can turn left at the bottom of John Street and go more into the North Side, or you can turn right and go into Schiller Park. One year we ran from Schiller into Lincoln Park and back. I like to include a jaunt through Franklin Square, and maybe we’ll use the Creek Walk.”
Also standard each year is a champagne-cork starting gun, as well as a champagne water stop—it is New Year’s Day, after all. After the run, participants gather inside Spaghetti Warehouse for a buffet meal and perhaps a beer. A post-run giveaway—more like a white elephant raffle—of what Hughes called “prizes” is an annual highlight.
The Track Club’s Resolution Run is not a formal race, but there are a few safety guidelines to keep in mind: The route will not be closed to traffic, so you may have to wait for cars to pass in front of you. Dogs and running strollers are welcome; and you can run as part of a large group. “The runners’ responsibility is with themselves to be safe,” Hughes noted. “We don’t want people to get hurt.”
As a result of the run’s growing popularity, this year, for the first time, there will be an additional fee for the run and the food. In the past, the race fee covered annual membership in the Track Club. The membership/race/buffet prices this year are $25 for adults, $15 for youth younger than 18; $25 for a family of two adults; and a family rate of $20 for membership plus an additional fee depending on the number of diners.
Race-day registration is an option, but it’s also been a bit of a cluster with so many people descending as the starting time approached. This year, you can register at syracusetrackclub.org, or at getentered.com. For more information, or if you’d like to participate by volunteering, call Hughes at 214-4060 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cougar Mountain 5K Trail Run
Saturday, Dec. 29, 10 a.m.
Trail runs can be tricky enough; add in snow and ice (potentially) and you’ve got a whole new beast. Even more, the beauty of Elmwood Park, with a view of the Syracuse skyline, and the fact that proceeds from the $10 registration fee will be donated to the Food Bank of Central New York, should convince you to participate in this last-run-of-the-year.
Race-day registration takes place on Saturday, 8 to 9:45 a.m., at Swallows Tavern, 1914 South Ave. Or preregister using the form found at fleetfeetsyracuse.com. Either way, the event costs a mere $10 and includes food and beverages at Swallows afterward.
Tuesday, Jan. 1, 10:13 a.m.
Town of Sullivan Parks and Recreation Department,
717 Legion Drive, Chittenango
Three years ago, a group of Madison County runners resurrected this event, which had a past but not much of a present. “It’s an alternative to the run in the city,” said Dan DeFrees, the race director and a Fleet Feet Syracuse employee. “I love the Track Club, love their Resolution Run, but for some people their run has gotten too large and for some it’s a drive on a holiday.”
Since this run returned, it has averaged 30 to 40 participants, mostly from Chittenango with some from the eastern Onondaga County suburbs thrown in. There is no entry fee, but DeFrees requested that runners either bring a nonperishable food item or two, or a cash donation, that will be given to the Town of Sullivan Food Cupboard.
“This is a run/walk,” DeFrees stressed. “It is not competitive at all. We encourage strollers and families and dogs. There are some refreshments after the race, and any leftover food will go to the food pantry.”
Run distance will be from three to five miles, and will traverse the Erie Canal Trail, village trails and some streets, but the route is weather-dependent. As for the unusual starting time, DeFrees admitted, “We stole that idea from the Track Club; last year we started at 10:12.” Borrowed, too, from the Track Club is the prediction idea. Once they find out the race distance, runners can write down their predicted finish time. “We will give prizes to whoever comes closest,” DeFrees said.
No matter the start time, runners need to remember this is not a competitive event. “A lot of people have a hard time wrapping their heads around the fact that this is a low-key, fun event to kick off the New Year,” DeFrees said. “We raised a couple hundred dollars last year for the food pantry, plus a few boxes of food.”
For more information, call him at 687-3471.
Chilly Chili 5K
Sunday, Jan. 6, 1 p.m.
Cazenovia Middle School,
31 Emory Ave., Cazenovia
And now for the competitive race among these four. Nine years ago, Penny Noll, director of the Cazenovia Children’s House childcare center, started this race to raise money for the school’s tuition, books, supplies, nutritious foods and the like. At the same time, Noll realized she couldn’t ask the community to run in support of her business if she didn’t run it herself. In nearly a decade, the race has outgrown its original course and after-party location, and Noll has grown as a runner of 5Ks to her 14th marathon.
“As with many of us in the running community, I had reached my 50th birthday and the children were on their own, and I thought running would be a good healthy thing for myself,” Noll said. “It has been a great match for me. The running community is so friendly here. I’ve learned so much and the opportunity to travel and see new parts of the country have been great.”
Noll’s ultimate goal is to run a marathon in each of the 50 states. “I want to qualify for the Boston Marathon one of these days, too.” That, at her age, means running 26.2 miles in four hours and 25 minutes.
But back to Caz. The first year of the Chilly Chili 5K saw 354 finishers; in 2012, there were 1,158. “That first year, we were a bit concerned that a race in the wintertime would attract anyone,” Noll admitted. “But the combination of the race and the chili party afterward seems to attract folks. Now we already have well over 1,000 registrations for 2013 from across the state and the Northeast.”
Noll warned that no one should run this race for a PR (personal record) because it’s hilly, you can’t plan for weather in January, and the roads could be icy, but so what? “It’s a fun race, it gets you outdoors and it starts you for the year in a healthy way,” Noll said. In addition, the after-party features some mighty fine chili, made and donated by Cazenovia restaurants, as well as beer sampling from four local breweries.
“While you’re sampling, Just Joe will be playing music again,” Noll added. There is a formal judging process for the chili, as well as a people’s choice award, the winner of which will be announced at 3:30 p.m.
The biggest change for this year’s Chilly Chili, however, is that it’s earlier in the year than ever before. “Because of the size of the race and the after-party,” Noll explained, “the best location for us is Cazenovia College Athletic Center. But they have their own sports schedules and we have to sneak in our event when the center isn’t being used. This was the best day on the calendar. We’re confident that runners will be flexible and register.”
Registration fee is $26 at chillychili.com or $30 on race
day. Early packet pickup will be available at Fleet Feet Syracuse, 5800
Bridge St., East Syracuse.