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RACE IS A GREAT WAY TO HONOR SISTER, BY GOSCH

Samantha Gosch has been working toward this day for months and months. It's finally here.

Gosch is the race director of "The Great Kate 5K Race," which will take place at 11 this morning at Starpoint Central School in Pendleton. The event will honor her younger sister, Katlyn, who died in an auto accident in March 2004 as a senior at the high school.

"The idea actually started during the funeral process before Katie was buried," said Jeff Gosch, the father of Samantha and Katlyn. "Sam's sister had far-reaching effects throughout the community. Sam came up with the idea of taking her sister's legacy and doing something."

"Katie loved running. I thought it would be nice to have a race," Samantha said. "I'm a senior at UB, and I needed to complete my senior thesis project. It just popped into my head that I could do the race for my thesis."

The reaction to the idea has been impressively large, and Samantha has gotten an education in many different areas.

"It's quite a process," she said. "One thing I've learned is that people are willing to help. It's been a community-oriented project. Race directors and runners have pointed me toward other people.

"I've had to think about things like port-a-potties, parking the cars, permits for the race, and trying to figure out how to enter runners' names into a database."

Samantha has convinced local businesses to donate food and drink for the participants. She sat down with Eagle Point Sports and worked out a design for the race T-shirt. Samantha also ordered the awards for the winners and has been coordinating the use of about 65 volunteers who will help out today.

Along the way, she's had some able assistance from Jeff, whom she calls "her right-hand man." Put another way, daughter has been giving orders to father.

"Samantha is a chip off Dad's old block," Jeff said. "Sam is very strong. But when Dad is dealing with a young woman of 22, you can't help but put your two cents in. . . . I've been able to mentor her a little."

The number of participants has been growing steadily in the last couple of weeks. Samantha said she was getting 30 applications per day at one point. She's hoping as many as 500 runners and walkers take part -- stressing that people can register at the door this morning.

Samantha will donate the proceeds of the race to the area's Boys and Girls Clubs. She hopes the total will be in the range of $8,000 to $10,000.

And Samantha hopes that's not the end of the story.

"It's definitely something I'm going to continue every year," she said.

Katlyn won't be too far from anyone's thoughts during the course of today's race. The three-sport athlete (soccer, basketball and track) never had a chance to run on Starpoint's new track, which is where the event will begin.

The T-shirt will have the race's slogan, "A Legacy of Giving," on it. Samantha says that's what Katlyn's life was all about.

"The stories people have told us since the accident -- we just didn't realize how much she meant to other people," she said about her sister, who was Homecoming Queen, class treasurer and an honor student. "There have been 43,000 hits on a Web site, ohmygosch.com. She inspired a lot of people to do great things."

"Friends, family, teachers, the administration at Starpoint -- we've had magnificent support from everyone," Jeff Gosch said. "To see all those people there to support this legacy that this girl left, it will be an emotional day.

"But it will be a great day, rain or shine."

Running shorts

Some very good runners will be racing in today's More Marathon for women's masters in New York City. Buffalo's Peggy Wade will be in the field as well, but has no illusions about teaming up with sister Mary Moore to win the relay division. The duo is there for some sight-seeing and casual running. "I've only been to New York once before. It just sounded like a fun time," Wade said.

Wade and Moore headed from Buffalo to New York on Friday with Paulette Mulderig and her daughter, Erin, after training together for several weeks. "Our goal is to finish," Wade said.

Sheriff Gallivan's 5K race finally has a new location: the Bison City Rod & Gun Club on Ohio Street in Buffalo. The race, set for May 14, was previously run at the now-closed Chestnut Ridge Park in Orchard Park.

Upcoming races

The Great Kate 5K, Starpoint Central School, 4363 Mapleton Road in Pendleton, 11 a.m. today, 645-0281.

Shoes for the Shelter Run/Walk, 5K, Koessler Athletic Center at Canisius College, Main Street, noon today, 888-2977.

BPAC 6-Hour Distance Classic, Delaware Park, 8 a.m. April 17, 689-9018.

Greater Buffalo Track Club Half-Marathon (Buffalo News Runner of the Year Race), 13.1 miles, 2121 Grand Island Blvd., Grand Island, 9 a.m April 23.

Envirun, 5K, Days Inn, 401 Buffalo St., Niagara Falls, 10:30 a.m. April 23, 851-7130.

Town of Tonawanda 5K Run, Aquatic and Fitness Center, 1 Pool Plaza, Town of Tonawanda, 11 a.m. April 23, 876-7424.

e-mail: bbailey@buffnews.com