GENEVA — If the Musselman Triathlon or Seneca7 have proven anything, it’s that the Finger Lakes is a hotbed for local, national and even international athletic events. Picturesque scenery that includes winding roads, hills and lakes as far as the eye can see has attracted athletes from all over the globe.
Now, a new race is poised to join the ranks of the premier events in the Finger Lakes region.
The Geneva Half Marathon presented by Red Jacket Orchards has been in the works for over a year, and the inaugural race is less than two weeks away.
The USA Track & Field-certified race is the brainchild of Eric Heieck, a retired military member, Geneva police officer and avid runner. He and his wife, Sarah, have participated in the local races and thought something was missing.
“This race has been in my head for over five years,” Eric said. “My wife and I are very active in all the races. One of the things we thought was missing was a half-marathon.”
The race will cover 13.1 miles. It will start and finish at the I Love NY sign in Lakefront Park.
The course is set up for the west side of Seneca Lake. It will travel down South Main Street as well as Pre-Emption Road, and includes a jaunt through the campus if Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
All 300 spots have been filled.
“We are absolutely ecstatic,” Eric said. “We are a sellout at 300; we never expected that in our first year. The community and city have been great.”
The race also has a patriotic theme. Coupled with Heieck’s background as a military service member, the race’s colors are red, white and blue.
The proceeds will go to local charities: Half will benefit the Geneva Boys and Girls Club — Sarah Heieck is president of the board there — while the Geneva Family YMCA, an organization in which Eric serves as treasurer, will get half too.
Runners can choose to compete by themselves or run in a two-team relay.
Heieck said athletes from as far away as Washington state, Florida and Calgary, Alberta, will travel to Geneva for the race.
“We have everything here. People want to come to Geneva,” Eric said. “Runners don’t want to just run. They want to have an event. You couple that with the scenery and the beer and wine industry, and it’s a home run.”
Heieck said a date for the 2020 Geneva Half Marathon already has been selected, so it appears this race is ready to become a fixture on the local racing calendar.