Parkway 10K Road Race Cancelled
By Jeff John
BUFFALO -- September 14, 2004 -- It has been said that Buffalo area runners enjoy more road races per capita than any other region in the country and with literally hundreds of local races in the calendar it may be true. But there will now be a few less than expected this year. We were particularly saddened to hear from GBTC spkesperson Alice Loncto yesterday. The GBTC has decided to cancel this year's Parkway 10K. The 10K is very popular with area runners and is an important Buffalo News Runner of the Year event.
The Parkway 10K had been scheduled for Saturday October 9th.
Many Races Lost This Year
Also bowing out this year have been the the following area road races: The Womans Race 5K (May), The Kenmore Week 5K (July), The Highland Hose 5k (August), The Jeff Casterline Memorial 5K (October), and the Hilbert Memorial Miles 5K (October).
Carol Medeiros, race director for the Casterline 5K, may try to bring that event back again next year.
Safety and Quality Standards
Ms. Loncto related that the city-county merger of the parks system and changes in the internal management structure of the Olmsted Parks Conservancy led to the loss of the race's two major sponsors, Olmsted and Wegmans. That development threatened to compromise the ability of GBTC to meet its quality and safety standards and the difficult decision was reluctantly reached.
Parkway 10K History
The race does indeed have a remarkable history of delivering a safe and quality event. Long time area race director Dan Loncto has been the event's most ardent advocate since its founding in 1997. This would have been its 8th year. Under Loncto's direction the race consistently provided only the highest quality event commemoratives and volunteer Jim Lynch always had the race deliver the largest and most attractive trophy's ever seen at area races. Dan Loncto also managed to consistently rally the city's finest into providing some of the best traffic control enjoyed in Buffalo road racing.
Over the years the race tried innovative means to attract more runners. In 1999 huge cash awards were offered to the winners. That drew a cadre of top class Canadian athletes and produced the existing course records of 29:43 (Moses Macharia) and 34:09 for the women (Michelle King). But the turnout was disappointing.
In 2000 the race tried widely distributing the cash with $100 awards to every age group winner. Although many local runners were thrilled with their $100 check from GBTC that too did not attract large numbers.
Optimism reigned anew in 2003 when Loncto landed two major sponsors. He shared a compelling vision of a bright and growing future for the event and began making major improvements. The course was redesigned to accommodate more runners and to better showcase the Olmsted Parks legacy. A 5K and relay event were also added making it a huge multi-race event. The name was changed to honor the lead sponsor. The new courses were USATF certified and Don Mitchell's Runtime Services was employed to ensure the most reliable timing and scoring available anywhere in the nation.
In the revamped Parkway 10K Matt Glynn dazzled the field with the second fastest winning time in Parkway 10K history. Glynn shocked Buffalo's other top distance runners with an excellent 31:42 performance. But, there were only 183 runners chasing him. Even these exciting and upbeat improvements did not bring more runners.
Too Many Races?
The race has always been held in early October. It had to compete with up to 6 other events some years. It's not just runners that these events compete for. There is a limited number of available race volunteers for vitally important functions such as traffic control.
Also, a new threat emegring recently is the resurgence in the popularity of cross country running. The cross country season is in full swing in October. While that is a very good development itself many runners and volunteers are confronted wirh the difficult decision of choosing between many appealing events scheduled for the same time.
With less races beckoning them now, the runner's decision may be easier, but the cost was huge. We will miss the Parkway.
Parkway 10K Memories:
Parkway Course Records