On this beautiful late-summer morning, 296 runners eagerly awaited the start to the first annual Oak Tree five kilometer and half marathon road race.
The first race to start was the half marathon (13.1 miles). With 40 percent of the course on the dirt roads north of Geneseo, the race was sure to be scenic. With the long hills up Roots Tavern and Nations roads, it was also sure to be tough. Both proved to be true.
169 runners entered and completed the half marathon. Some with scorching times, like the winner Daryl Clarke of Buffalo who finished with the time of 1 hour 20 minutes 34 seconds, while others were just happy to finish the sometimes punishing 13 miles. The top female runner was Mary Beth Baglieri of Rochester with an equally impressive time of 1:31:52. Chris Rubeck (1:38:51) and Sandy Peters (1:53:46) took the honor of fastest Geneseo runners, and were presented prizes provided courtesy of MediaStop in Geneseo.
The five-kilometer race started at 9:15 and highlighted the beautiful, historic village of Geneseo. All 127 entered runners - some seasoned, while others new to the sport - knew the 5k course had its challenges: namely the hill up Center Street. However, this did not dampen their spirits. For most the race was not about winning. Rather, it was about the challenge: the challenge of running a race for the first time or the challenge of completing the course.
That is not to say that there were not very serious competitors. Local favorite Geneseo High School senior Bobby Henchen not only proved to be the fastest Geneseo runner, he bested the entire field, with a scorching time of 17 minutes, 22 seconds, edging out his coach Mike Garger by 24 seconds. Top female honors went to Katherine Peterson, from Saratoga Springs, with a blazing time of 20:04. Taking the top female Geneseo resident honors was seasoned Geneseo High School runner Liz Banker, with a time of 22:53. Both Bobby and Liz received generous prizes provided by Swain Sports.
Complete results are available at www.geneseevalleyconservancy.org/race
The inaugural Oak Tree Half Marathon and 5k road race was not only about running. As race committee chairwoman, Celeste Grace stated, “the race is a way to get people active. In these times of sedentary lifestyles and associated health related issues, we wanted to put on an event that is inviting to non-runners and runners alike. The point of a race is not to win. The point is to push yourself a bit harder than you usually do.”
Additionally, the race aimed at showing Livingston County’s remarkable landscape and 400-year-old oak trees. Those that live here know this, but organizers wanted to show off this area to others. Race beneficiary, the Genesee Valley Conservancy, conceived of the race as a way to accomplish this goal.
“I think this race was great for the community and for the Conservancy”, stated GVC President Bill Lloyd (who ran the 5k in a not too shabby 23:14). The half marathon course took runners through the heart of the Genesee River Valley, much of which is protected by the Conservancy, showcasing some of the areas most majestic oak trees.
“This was an event that the entire community could take pride in,” Mr. Lloyd continued. We received remarkable support to put on the race”. Local race sponsors included Swain Sports, Presutti Law firm, Balconi Pontiac GM, Chanler Insurance Agency, Lattimore of Geneseo Physical Therapy, Geneseo Chiropractic, Wendy Sisson, Esq., and MediaStop. Mama Mia’s, Geneseo Wegmans and Geneseo Starbucks Coffee provided food and beverages.
The inaugural Oak Tree Half Marathon and 5k went off with practically no hitches. “We were lucky to have such great volunteers and organizers”, stated Celeste Grace. “Without the community support the race could not have happened.”
“We have always wanted to put on a race in this beautiful Genesee Valley, Stated Ellen Boutillier, co-founder of YellowJacket Racing, the race organizers and coordinators. “We have every intention of hosting this race again next year, and I am sure after the success we had this year there will be even more runners. I have no doubt this could be the preeminent race of this distance in Western New York.”
Until then, there is plenty of time to lace up your shoes and get training for the 2006 Oak Tree Half Marathon or the Oak Tree Five Kilometer Road Race.