WELLSVILLE — The RidgeWalk and Run is a perennial favorite of local residents, typically attracting over a thousand people to the highest ridge in Western New York.
This year, the 27th annual the event will take place Oct. 20, when participants will gather at Wellsville Central School, 126 W. State St. for the 9 a.m. start.
“Plans are going very well,” said Jim Helms, event director. “Mother Nature is cooperating a lot, being nicer to us this year than last year. … We’re praying for the weather to cooperate.”
To date, 600 people are registered, but “the last two weeks it just goes crazy,” Helms said. “We’re ahead of the pace this year.”
A crew of four to six volunteers has been working on clearing the trails for “six or seven weeks,” according to Helms. It takes a lot of clearing, since the trails encompass 70 different plots and 52 landowners this year.
“All the trails are the same this year, but the 25K is a little different,” Helms said. Because of a slight change in the trail for that run, “great views that runners haven’t seen in a while” will be visible. An adjustment will also allow the runners to get off the road sooner than before so that they can get out and enjoy themselves more readily.
The event, which benefits the Jones Memorial Hospital Wellness Program, offers participants several options, from competitive running to leisurely strolls. The RidgeWalk and Run offers competitive un-paved trail runs of 25K, 10K, and 5K as well as a choice of casually walking 15, 9, 6 and 2 miles. There’s even an Active Older Adults event, special for those 55 and older who want to participate but are limited in their mobility.
Since 2017 when they rededicated the event, the RidgeWalk runs are all USATF Niagara sanctioned. The RidgeWalk 25k is part of the USATF Niagara Association Open; USATF Niagara Masters Trail Championship; and the Eastern Grip Series.
Regardless of the activity, the RidgeWalk gives everyone the opportunity to get out of the house and move around, enjoy the weather, the beautiful colors of fall, feel the community spirit and support a good, local cause.
This year, the first 1,000 registrants can look better than ever while doing that – with artwork from a local student that adorns RidgeWalk swag.
This year the committee decided to reach out to Allegany County students for the 2019 RidgeWalk design. Belfast Area High School’s Hailey Mitchell won for her digital design that encompassed both the event and the fall spectrum of colors.
RidgeWalk begins with a pre-event dinner Oct. 19 from 6 to 8 p.m. at The Grill, located in the Wellsville Country Club. It will include a pasta buffet, Caesar salad and desert for $25 per person. More information can be found at ridgewalk.com.
Online registration, at https://runsignup.com/Race/NY/Wellsville/RidgeWalkRun, will continue until the morning of the RidgeWalk and Run. Special age pricing is available in all categories and differs by category, and the entry fee includes a free meal at the end of the event. Additional spectator meal tickets will be available for $5. Last-minute participants can register from 7:45 to 8:30 a.m. at the school.
From the school, buses will transport runners and walkers to their various starting points, but regardless of where they start, they all finish at the Shear equestrian farm on Alma Hill.
In addition to lunch, prizes will be awarded, and music, entertainment, health screenings and kid’s activities will allow everyone the chance to celebrate the good they did for themselves and for the community.
One of the things Helms said they are particularly proud of this year is their efforts to make Wellsville more walkable. The proceeds from the Wellsville RidgeWalk and Run, 100% of which are donated to the JMH Wellness Program, will continue to assist in making Wellsville’s sidewalk repairs and a planned walkway underneath the Bolivar Road bridge.
More information can be found on the webpage or facebook.com/RidgeWalkRun/.
It takes about 150 to 200 volunteers to make the event a success, and when asked when the committee would begin planning for the next year, Helms laughed.
“We’re already planning the next one,” he said.
The event began in 1993. After 21 years run by an all-volunteer committee and the Wellsville Area Chamber of Commerce, the event came under the direction of UR/Jones Memorial Hospital. At the time, the hospital was in search of a signature event that could help fund programs.