Bring out your cowbells!

On Sunday, August 27, The Mendon Foundation will be hosting the 6th Annual Black Diamond Express Trail Races, which include a 5K as well as our area’s only Half Marathon, and the Mendon community is being encouraged to get out to the Lehigh Valley Trail that morning to cheer the runners on.

“This year’s race is looking to be about the same size as last year’s, which means about 250 runners total,” notes Race Director Drew Saur. “It’s been selected by Yellowjacket Racing as a ‘partner’ event, which means that Yellowjacket feels that it’s a well-organized and fun event that is worthy of the region’s attention. We’re particularly proud of that.”

This year’s race offers a couple of new twists: ceramic medals that were handmade by Mendon’s Geoff Gretton; and USA Track & Field Certification for the Half Marathon Course (NY17052JG), which enables runners to use the Black Diamond Express Half Marathon as a time-qualifying race for other large races, such as the New York City Marathon.

Formerly operated as part of the annual Mendon Station Festival, this year’s races completely replace the Festival as the Mendon Foundation’s primary fundraising event to support its ongoing maintenance duties on the Lehigh Valley Trail, as well as its duties on the six land trust properties it maintains for public use around the town. “We made a tough decision after the 2015 Festival to focus on one thing and do it well,” Saur said. “The Festival cost a lot of money and time to plan and stage, and it didn’t gather enough attention to the Lehigh Valley trail from around the Rochester region. The race brings new people to the Trail every year, and has resulted in a swell of support from those who discover it each year.”

While, on the surface, the elimination of an event that brought enjoyment to the community for over 15 years seemed disappointing, Saur notes that the community engagement is ripe to be better than ever: he is encouraging people in the town to come out to support the runners, which should make for a fun Sunday morning for all. “Runners love to be cheered on, and the best races bring out the communities who host them. We’d love people to come out to the edges of the trail – especially near the entrances between Chamberlain and Plains Roads – to cheer the runners on along their path. Cowbells and cheering sections will bring a lot of cheer and extra energy to the runners as they compete. But please stay to the sides of the trail and off of the roads to keep out of the runners’ way.”

Half Marathon runners are expected to be out on the trail until noon.

The races start at the entrance to the trail by the Schnacky-Brokaw baseball fields south of Route 251 in the Hamlet, and both are “out and back” races that finish at their starting point. The Half Marathon starts at 8 AM and runs 6.55 miles to the west, turning around just east of the Rush United Methodist Church. The 5K starts at 8:20 AM and runs 1.55 miles west, turning around just east of Chamberlain Road.

Registration for both races is open right up until the start on Sunday morning. More information about the races, including links to registration forms, can be found at http://www.blackdiamondexpressraces.org/

©2022 Mendon-Honeoye Falls-Lima Sentinel

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