JAMESTOWN – Organizers are hoping it will be one of the biggest annual sporting events in Chautauqua County. Representatives from the Chautauqua Striders, Jamestown Savings Bank Ice Arena, and the Lucy-Desi Center for Comedy held a media conference Thursday afternoon to announce the inaugural “Lucy Town Half Marathon and 5K” – scheduled for Columbus Day weekend in Jamestown.
In addition to organizing the biggest running event in Chautauqua County, organizers are also planning to host a couple other events during the weekend of Oct. 12 and 13, including a sports expo and “Night of Comedy” – both to take place at the ice arena.
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Ice Arena General Manager Kurt Silcott said that although they’ve only gone public with the event this week, it’s actually something they’ve been working on for the past six months.
“We all got in the room and started kicking this idea around. To see the energy and excitement on all the group’s faces is what personally got me going and I think its what got everyone going,” Silcott explained. “We’ve been kicking this around, looking at other races and what other people have done in other communities. We’ve been taking all the good ideas and we’ve just been building and building. And we finally said okay, we can finally go out and start talking to other people about it.”
Chautauqua Striders Running Series Coordinator David Reinhardt said they are hoping this event will attract runners from not only Jamestown and the Chautauqua Region, but from other areas as well, including Erie and Buffalo.
“We know that there’s a lot of runners out there that just don’t do the weekend five-Ks, and there’s a lot of half-marathoners and marathoners in this area that go to other places,” Reinhardt said, adding, “So we wanted to include a half-marathon in our runner series and it’s taken a long time for us to get everything worked out, but we are ready to go.”
And Lucy-Deci Center Executive Director Journey Gunderson said there were three reasons why her organization wanted to partner with the Ice Arena and Striders to help organize and promote the event.
“There’s no shortage of research and the health and healing benefits of laughter, and so that made good sense for us because it perfectly in line with our mission, which is enriching the world through the healing powers of laughter,” Gunderson explained. “Secondly, I think through the Lucille Ball Comedy Festival that we produce, we saw a lot of economic impact around here. After our festival we went around to the local businesses in Jamestown and one of the main comments we heard was, ‘Wow. This was a fantastic weekend and it was a big money-maker for us. If only there were more of these weekends throughout the year.’ And last I would say that we’ve seen there is a demand for comedy and comedic entertainment here.”
Gunderson added that they are still working on getting a headliner for the Night of Comedy, with more details expected later this year.
As for the half Marathon, the route will take runners through Jamestown and east along Jones & Gifford Avenue to Celoron – Lucille Ball’s childhood hometown – before heading over to Lakewood before looping around and heading back on the same route. Reinhardt says because the course is flat, it should be fairly accommodating for both competitive runners as well as those looking to participate in their first half marathon.
The organizers are hoping for anywhere between 400 to 1,000 runners participating in the inaugural year, although they hope over time, it will involve thousands of runners, similar to the annual Boilermaker half-marathon in Utica.
Race registration is available at LucyRace.com. The early registration cost to enter the half marathon is $55 for half marathon participants, and $20 for the 5k participants. Proceeds from the event will go to support future half-marathons, as well as all three not-for-profit organizations.
Univera Healthcare has also signed up as the main financial sponsor of the event. In addition, any Univera Healthcare member will receive a $5 discount to register for the half marathon and a $2 discount for the 5K.
Chautauqua Striders says they will also need 100s of volunteers, so anyone who is not running is encouraged to help in that capacity.
For additional information on the Lucy Town Half Marathon and 5K, contact Phil Genco at (716) 484.2624 or visit LucyRace.com.