LEWISTON – Competitors are already planning for a Sept. 21 race that benefits an important local organization while offering some of the most striking scenery in the area –the Mighty Niagara Half Marathon and Hospice Dash 5K Walk/Run.
“This is the time of year runners start to train for half-marathons and start making decisions about what races they’ll enter,” said Paul Beatty Jr., chairman of the race.
“This is a great race because it’s slightly downhill, so it’s fast and it’s beautiful,” he added.
“The course starts at Artpark and goes through the Village of Lewiston and along River Road, with such a scenic view of the river and Canada, and then through Youngstown and into Fort Niagara State Park. It continues along the lake, finishing in Porter-on-the-Lake Park.
“Runners look for a course that’s interesting and scenic, and we have so much entertainment, too. We have a band at the start and finish lines, and live entertainment at about every mile of the race.”
The Mighty Niagara Half Marathon will be held in conjunction with the fifth annual Hospice Dash 5K Walk/Run, which begins at 9 a.m. The Hospice Dash begins on Lake Road in Youngstown and follows the last 3.1 miles of the half marathon route. Runners and walkers will finish at the same post-race party at Porter-on-the-Lake Park.
Every 5K Run/Walk participant will receive a custom finisher medal with the option of an “in memory of” tab for the back of the medal.
New features for 2013 include a complimentary beer tent, a “dress like your favorite rock star” contest with prizes, and the brand new Jaguar timing system, which provides immediate results.
The race will continue to offer awards for winners in each age group, cash prizes to overall winners, custom race shirts and The Mighty Niagara Discount Card that is valid at local businesses.
The event raises money for Niagara Hospice.
“Hospice helps patients – and their families – deal with end-of-life situations and they offer care regardless of whether people have the money to pay for it,” explained Beatty. “That’s the motivator for me. The dozens of events and hundreds of small ways that people raise money for this helps provide this care to patients who might not otherwise be able to afford it.”
“It’s about treating people with dignity and helping their families through rough situations and continuing that care after, by offering so many outreach programs, like grief counseling,” he added. “This is near and dear to me. I’m on the board of directors. Everybody’s got their cause and this is it for me.”
The half marathon was added to the Hospice 5K Dash two years ago and drew more than 1,000 competitors its first year. It is promoted as a destination family event to marathoners throughout New York, Southern Ontario and northern Pennsylvania.
“For the half marathon, we get runners from all over the country and Canada and abroad,” Beatty noted.
“We’ll have one or two from Europe and one from Australia. This has become a destination event because people can come here, stay here, and enjoy the sights and all the Niagara region has to offer, from wine tours to jet boats.”
Beatty noted that the event relies heavily on volunteers.
“But we can always use more, to help at the starting line, the finish line, with set-up and clean-up and handing out medals, for example.”
Local businesses are invited to participate through sponsorships or through inclusion on the Mighty Niagara Discount Card.
Niagara Hospice has provided end-of-life comfort, care and support since 1988 to more than 20,000 Niagara County individuals and families faced with terminal illness. No one is ever denied hospice care due to inability to pay.