The ninth-annual Seneca7, a 77.7-mile relay race, consisting of 340 seven-member teams running the circumference of Seneca Lake, was held Sunday, April 28. The event began in downtown Geneva, with runners heading south along the west side of Seneca Lake, through Yates County, Schuyler County including Watkins Glen, and Seneca County, before returning to Geneva for a finish line celebration extravaganza.
Awards were three-deep in several categories: all male, all female, and mixed.
In the all male category, Bottomless Brewing, from Johnson City, rounded out the top three, with a time of 8:04:50. Cornell Running Club Running Club, from Ithaca, came in second, finishing at 7:55:03. Older, Faster, Stronger, also from Ithaca, took first place with 7:34:45. This team had formerly held the course record before being ousted from the top spot by another in 2017, and they came back this year trying to beat it. Their final time was off by just 43 seconds.
In the all female category third place was awarded to Upstate Birds, out of Buffalo, who finished with a time of 10:03:41. They also placed third in last year’s race. Second place was awarded to Runder Women, from Rochester, finishing in 9:43:50. Ithaca’s My Seneca7 Team were the champions, clocking 9:17:16.
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The mixed category, consisting of men and women, saw Team Wiemer from Dundee take third place, finishing in 8:37:14. Disqualify This IV, out of Geneseo, finished at 8:34:36 for second place. They also took second place in 2018. And in first, Ithaca’s Red New Racing, coming in at 8:24:34.
The bike category was comprised of teams who, instead of being supported by an official race vehicle (van or bus), were 100% self-supported – each team member rode a bicycle for the duration of the race. Bike teams have their own special category for awards, and this year first place in this category went to BarkEater Brewery Boys, from Lowville, who finished with a time of 9:21:50.
“This race was started out of a love for running and a love for the Finger Lakes,” says Seneca7 co-director Jackie Augustine. “We love living here, and anything we can do to highlight the beauty of the Finger Lakes to people from outside of the region is a win for this area.”
Augustine notes that even runners who have lived around Seneca Lake their whole lives have approached her to tell her that the course takes them through parts of the Finger Lakes they hadn’t experienced before the race.
“The run down into Glenora Falls, this little hidden gem of a neighborhood, is a favorite leg of many of our runners,” she says. “The whole neighborhood comes out and serves as one big cheering section for our athletes. There are little spots like that all along the course.”
Race co-director Jeff Henderson notes that the race wouldn’t be possible without the support of the community.
“We had over 200 volunteers working out there today,” Henderson says. “From the volunteers at the start and finish lines, to the folks staffing the 20 different exchange points – we certainly couldn’t pull this race off without their help.”
Henderson says that local businesses along the course are also instrumental to the race’s operation, noting that a number of wineries and other regional businesses allow the race to use their property for exchange points – the place where racers hand off the slap bracelet to each other – and volunteers from local not-for-profits volunteer to man these stations. Many athletes and their families, in turn, stop in and support these businesses, sharing it all on social media. While athletes aren’t allowed to drink alcohol during the race, several wineries passed out coupons good for a free tasting when the athletes return.
To help repay a community that supports their race, organizers opened ten charity slots, race entry slots set aside for teams willing to pay an increased registration fee, with proceeds going to local not-for-profit organizations.
“It’s important that we all come together to do what we can for people in need, and this is one event that makes that a priority,” says Henderson. Henderson notes that the race has donated over $94,000 to more than 40 area charities since it began.
Official results can be found online: Score-This.com. Note that results are preliminary until official results are announced, due to penalties and disqualifications that are updated following the race.