The Seneca7, a 77.7-mile running relay event around Seneca Lake, was held Sunday, April 24, under temperatures even hotter than meteorologists had forecast.
The race saw 210 teams of seven runners each start under overcast skies and temperatures in the low 50s in downtown Geneva at 6 a.m. Sunday morning. Runners followed a route that took them down the lake’s west side on Route 14, through Watkins Glen, and back along the eastern shore in the afternoon, when temperatures reached as high as 86 degrees.
“Heat was definitely a challenge for our runners on Sunday,” says race director Jeff Henderson. “This is our tenth year, and the Seneca7 takes place in all kinds of weather – we’ve had light snow and sleet, temperatures in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, and now temperatures in the mid-80s – our athletes have to come prepared for just about anything in the Finger Lakes this time of year.”
Henderson notes that that’s especially a challenge for the event’s bike teams, who agree to forgo being able to ride in a vehicle – typically a van – in between relay segments, in exchange for the privilege of early registration. This helps make the course less congested at exchange points, where runners hand off the baton. This year 24 teams chose to bike the course.
“Our van teams have the ability to sit in the air conditioning when not running, and the team has more room to store water and can drive further to get other essentials,” says Henderson. “Our bike teams yesterday really toughed it out, and we appreciate them even more than usual for doing that.”
Race co-director Jackie Augustine says that many of the race’s exchange point partners around the course made restrooms and water available to athletes throughout the day.
“We’ve put this race on in the snow, and sometimes our teams are practically the only people on the roads,” says Augustine. “With yesterday’s good weather the public came outdoors as well, and our winery and brewery partners, and other businesses who team up with us, made our athletes feel welcome and continued to welcome their tourism clientele, as well. I know our athletes certainly appreciated their support, as do we.”
In addition to run teams, hundreds of local volunteers sweated it out with athletes throughout the day, handling course marshal, parking, traffic control, and other duties. Augustine says that they get a lot of the credit for helping pull off a smooth, safe race.
“This race relies on its volunteers in normal weather,” Augustine says. “Even more so with challenging weather like the hotter-than-usual temperatures we saw this weekend. We can’t thank the volunteers enough – even with the sun beating down on them, they manned their posts and gave their all to our athletes. Some of them were with us from sun-up to sundown, and many have been with us for years.”
Prizes went three-deep in three categories: open, female, and mixed.
In the open category, Henchen’s Harriers of Geneva came in first, with a time of 8:40:33.
Second place went to HUSTLE Fitness, of Endwell, finishing in 8:47:33.
Rounding out third was High Noon Masters, from Ithaca, with a time of 8:50:35.
First in the female category was The GOLDen Girls, from Chicago, IL, finishing in 10:34:37.
Second place went to Skaneateles Brewery, from Skaneateles, with a time of 10:51:21.
And Heart and Sole took third, of Manlius, with a time of 11:09:35.
In the mixed category, the winner was Geneva’s Semi-Dry Runners, with a time of 9:35:47.
Second place went to Roadkill Racing, of Williamson, finishing at 9:38:03.
Third place was won by Geneva’s HWSXC, coming in at 9:57:32.
“Running is a community, and Seneca7 is proud to be a part of that,” Henderson says. “We took the event virtual in 2020 when COVID-19 struck, and our community went online. But we pride ourselves on being a part of a greater community – the community that is Seneca Lake – and it felt so good to be out on the roads again, to have everyone together again as a part of that.”