ASHFORD — The serenity of the Cattaraugus County woods and the Griffis Sculpture Park will be interrupted Saturday when around a thousand runners traverse a 4-mile odyssey of terrain and obstacles as part of one of the area’s most arduous adventure races.
The Finn McCool race will take over the upper part of the Griffis Sculpture Park in Ashford. The race, operated by Eclipse Multi-Sport, had been run in Cazenovia Park in South Buffalo, but a series of events brought it to the Southern Tier.
“We were approached by a group that introduced us to the Griffis family,” Anne Horan, one of the organizers, said. “They wanted us to look into bringing the Finn McCool to the park. As people may remember, Griffis Sculpture Park used to host concerts that drew thousands of people. Well, we at Eclipse Multi-Sport, want to help this most beautiful park capture that feeling again, and bring in throngs of fun, fit people and families.”
The course is new this year, but Horan said that will only add to the challenge.
“The course at Griffis is beautiful and challenging. If people want a warm-up for Tough Mudder, this is it,” she said, referring to a two-day race in July.
The Finn McCool course includes steep hills and tight trails littered with cargo nets, tubes, a giant slip-and-slide, and a rope climb that promises to make even the most well-trained forearms burn. There are 13 obstacles in all.
Eclipse Multi-Sport is a South Buffalo business that funnels all of the proceeds back into Western New York, Horan said, unlike national races that give funds to the national chapter,
“Our goal ... is to hire local people and contractors to put on an event to support local businesses and charities,” Horan said. “This year alone, we will donate over $10,000 to the Orchard Park Recreation Department for programs for children all year long.”
Horan’s husband, Dan, a Buffalo police officer, has heard a lot of grumbling about the move from South Buffalo to Ashford. As with anything like this, Anne Horan said, the race is constantly evolving, and this year’s version of the race and party will be worth it even if it’s “a little farther to drive.”
Registration can still take place Saturday morning, from 8 until 10:30 at Griffis. The first race will be the 1-mile children’s race. Participants will get a medal and a Finn McCool water bottle. After that, adult races start at 9 a.m., and every 20 minutes thereafter, until all participants have started. Adults will receive full-color, 16-ounce pint glasses, a high-tech T-shirt, beverage of choice and a pulled-pork sandwich from Miranda’s Place, in Springville.
For more information, visit FinnMcCool4Mile.com.