By Tom Tarapacki:
Buffalo has numerous races that highlight this area’s long-standing love affair with running. They include, to name a few, the Shamrock Run, the Subaru Chase, and the YMCA Turkey Trot, the country’s oldest continuously run footrace. A first-time race that will likely become another great annual local tradition will be held on Friday, September 2. That’s when the inaugural running of the Western New York Running Hall of Fame 5k will take place in the Elmwood Village.
As organizers put it, this is “a race put on by runners for runners.” Not only will the race’s top finishers be given awards, but the very first class of the WNY Running Hall of Fame will be inducted afterwards as well.
The race starts at 7:00 PM from the front of Bullfeathers on Elmwood. The post-race party will be held at Elmwood and Bidwell following the race. It costs $20 to register, $25 the day of the race. (Non-runners who want to partake of the food and refreshments can pay $5 to do so). In case you have more than enough t-shirts from 5k races, the premium for runners is a unique one —- a double-insulated 20-oz. hot-and-cold travel cup.
The Western New York Running Hall of Fame was founded in June 2010. Its goal is to formally recognize the achievements and contributions of runners and the people support running. The inductees are recognized on the hall’s website, www.wnyrunninghof.com, but a brick-and-mortar location could be in the future. The race proceeds will benefit the hall’s mission.
As Hall Chairman and Race Director Tom Donnelly pointed out, “this is the first of its kind in this area —- a race that’s centered around running.” He added that most races benefit some very good causes, but this is the first one to be “all about running.”
The first class of the hall includes: John Beishline, who served with and operated Western New York Finish Line Services for more than 30 years; Mark Finucane, a three-time All-American at East Tennessee State University; Emery Fisher, recreation supervisor for the City of Buffalo Parks Department until 1987 and race official for numerous races, including the 1980 and 1984 Olympic marathon trials; Bob Ivory, the legendary high school track/cross country coach at St. Joe’s, where he led the cross country squad to 34 meet wins in a row, and six regular-season and All-Catholic titles, and the track team to 56 meet wins in a row, eight league titles and nine All-Catholic championships; Jennifer Colgove-Martin, a three-time NCAA qualifier at Allegheny College, where she was a two-time women’s athlete of the year (1981-82 and 1982-83) and later qualified for four straight Olympic marathon trials; Nancy Mieszczak, who won 143 races in her career, including the Skylon, Miller Lite and Charlotte Marathons, and finished 10th at the Boston Marathon; Don Mitchell, an outstanding runner who went on to become the area’s premier course measurer/certifier; David O’Keeffe, John Tuttle, a New York State Class C cross country champion in 1976 who became a top marathoner and an outstanding masters runner; and Ralph Zimmermann, one of the area’s top marathoners (he finished 33 marathons — three under 2:20 —- and qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1980) even though he didn’t start running until he was in his 30’s.
Most of the honorees should be in attendance after the race for the induction, which will certainly make it one of the most special events in Buffalo’s rich running history. It will likely launch a great new tradition in Buffalo running.