by Olivia Bitetti
It is time once again to lace up your sneakers in preparation for the third annual Hospice Dash. On Saturday, Sept. 24, runners and walkers will wait for the signal to begin on the trail through the uniquely scenic route created for this special event.
Race director Paul Beatty is particularly proud of the progress this race has made throughout the past few years.
"Our whole committee has been working very hard to make this event become one of the premier half marathons in the Northeast," he said. "We're confident that it's just going to get bigger, because runners are looking for a scenic route, entertainment throughout the route, and a great post-race party. When you combine all three of those, you generally have a successful event."
The Hospice Dash embodies all three of the most desired components that make a successful community race.
This year, there will be 800 half-marathoners participating and a maximum of 500 5K racers. The half-marathon begins at 9:10 a.m. in Artpark and is currently at capacity for racers. The 5K, beginning at Four Mile State Park at 10 a.m., will be accepting registrations at 8 a.m. the day of the event. There is a limit of 500 participants for the race, so be sure to get there early.
Accompanying the scenic view through the park, all athletes will enjoy post-race snacks; bottled water; fresh fruit; bagels, Timbits and coffee from Tim Hortons; hot dogs grilled by the Youngstown Lions Club; live music from more than 10 bands along the route; a cash bar (beer only); and free parking.
New to this year's race is the "family and friends option." The post-race party is open to all family and friends who are unable to make the race, but would like to celebrate with the participants at Porter on the Lake with food by the Youngstown Lions Club and live entertainment by Strictly Hip. It is requested that a donation to Niagara Hospice be made at the registration table.
The vast number of generous sponsors makes this race possible. Some of the major supporters include the Nike store at the Fashion Outlets mall, serving as a packet pick-up location; Modern Corporation; Certo Brothers; Tim Hortons; seven different local chapters of the Lions Club; Modern Environmental; and Niagara Falls Coach Lines shuttle service, providing free transportation for the racers back to the parking lot at the starting point of the race.
Additionally, local community support is always greatly appreciated. With all of the race details in order, there are only a few more things left to do in preparation for the big day.
"Now we need people that live in the area to come on out, bring some lawn chairs and cheer everyone on!" Beatty said.
On top of motivation, racers need hydration.
"We could always use help at our water stations," Beatty said. "The more the merrier. There is no limit on volunteers that will provide cups of water to the runners." The Red Brick Municipal Building in Lewiston and Stella Niagara water stations are particularly in need of volunteers.
If you are interested in volunteering at the race, contact special event coordinator Mandy Raff at 439-4417 or simply come the day of the race between 8:30 and 9 a.m.
All interested racers can register for the 5K from 8 to 9:30 a.m. on the day of the race. The cost per person for registration is $25. All racers will receive a custom finisher medal with the Hospice Dash logo on the front.
On the day of the event, racers are encouraged to arrive 45 minutes early to allow ample time for parking, packet pick-up and stretching before line-up for the race begins.
For more information on the race, visit www.hospicedash.com.