Family Run Creates Memorable Bonding Experience

By Alicia Dziak 

A Halloween-themed race in Ellicottville in November? “Sign me up!” was all I thought when I first heard the news.

In recent years, my daughters and I have gotten into running. We have a handful of 5Ks under our belts, so when I heard about the EVL Half and 5K, I was excited to have another opportunity to tackle a course with my girls, now ages 9 and 11. And it gave us an excuse to come up with a goofy family costume, which we decided would be Pac-Man (me) and Pac-Man Ghosts.

When I woke up on Nov. 1 to a dusting of snow, it made me kind of excited to head to Ellicottville for the morning. Sure, it was chilly. A little wet. But hey, this is Western New York and it’s November — what do you expect?

Sometimes, parking in Ellicottville on event weekends is a concern, but parking was no issue — there were many spots open along the streets. We headed to the parking lot behind the City Garage to pick up our race packets. While crowded, there were enough lines going and people shuffling us through quickly. We got our race numbers and timing chips, and really fun race T-shirts. (Being female, I liked that we got shirts cut for women instead of the baggy men’s shirts we usually get from races.)

The half marathon started at 11 a.m. and as soon as those dedicated runners headed out, the 5K runners began to line up behind the starting line on Monroe Street. About 300 runners were expected for the 5K. It was nicely un-crowded and great to have some elbowroom right from the get-go. (In some of the other 5Ks we’ve run in, it takes several minutes to establish your pace because you’re tripping over other runners.)

The course led us over to Mechanic Street, by the Nannen Arboretum, out to Maples Road, and then looped back into town again. It was a relatively flat course, well-marked and safe, with many people directing any traffic along the way. We loved seeing everyone decked out in their costumes and hearing people cheer each other on.

At the end, the starting line became the finish line, and we did our best to finish strong. We didn’t beat our best time ever, but I admit, we didn’t exactly train for this one and for me, the bonding time was more important than the actual time. (I will note that, as a parent, running these kinds of races with your kids is an amazing way to connect with them. You encourage each other along the way and leave with a truly memorable experience!)

“The course was nice and flat and easy to run in the cold,” my 11-year-old, Ava, said. “I liked seeing people I knew dressed in costumes on the course, and I also liked having the timing chips so I knew how fast I ran.”

“I enjoyed seeing all the costumes, and am excited to run in it again next year!” added my 9-year-old, Lily.

Overall, it was a fun and rewarding experience, despite the cold. We congratulated each other and friends we saw, then headed to EBC for the after-party. And, of course, we had to stop and use the discount card included in our race bag for some Watson’s chocolate!

“The EVLHalf would like to say THANK YOU to everyone, from our charity partners (Ellicottville Sports Boosters, Phoenix Program, Food Pantry, Springville track), all the volunteers, our fantastic sponsors law enforcement, Ellicottville Great Valley Ambulance Service, the Ellicottville Fire Department, local shops, event staff, the Village of Ellicottville, the Towns of Ellicottville and Mansfield, and especially everyone who raced on November 1,” said Gwen Bush, who organized the race, along with her husband, Doug. “We are looking forward to making the EVL Half Marathon and 5K even bigger and better in 2015!”

Visit www.evlhalf.com for more information and to be in the know for 2015’s event.