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CHALLENGE STILL ON, DESPITE CHASE CHANGES

Buffalo's largest road race will survive despite last week's announcement that Chase, the nation's largest bank, plans to lay off 2,250 employees and cut back sponsorship of various events.

The cutbacks could have been troubling news because Chase has long been one of running's best friends. It's a major sponsor for the New York City Marathon, and much closer to home, sponsors the Chase Corporate Challenge.

Barbara Paddock, vice president and director for sports marketing at Chase, last week cleared the air about the race's future. She said the sponsorship cuts don't extend to the bank's premier running events.

"The New York City Marathon and the Corporate Challenge (sponsorship) will definitely continue," Paddock said. "The reality is these are true cornerstone events."

The Chase Corporate Challenge, she said, is one of the bank's biggest promotional assets.

"We started it, and we still own the rights," she said. "You have to keep the foundation. We'll need to trim in other areas."

Dan Loncto of the host Greater Buffalo Track Club serves with his wife, Alice, as race director of the event here. He said this year's race, on June 25, will be "pretty much business as usual. I can guarantee there will be no changes on the local level."

Paddock also said the bank will continue to fly local winners to New York City each fall for the overall championship race.

Begun in 1977 by Manufacturers Hanover, a bank that has since become Chase, the series invited Buffalo in 1981 as the third city behind Albany and New York, and has since grown to include 16 U.S. cities as well as London, England and Frankfurt, Germany.

Buffalo is one of the success stories of the series, growing year after year until it has become the fourth largest, behind only New York, Chicago and Boston.

An additional 2,400 signed up last year for a record Buffalo field of 11,700 runners and walkers. They took part in a race that again turned Delaware Park into a giant tent city with hundreds of companies putting on post-race parties.

The 150,000 people who run in this series tend to have good feelings about Chase, and while warm and fuzzy may not mean that much in today's business climate, that's an awful lot of people walking around in T-shirts with Chase Bank on the back.

Hall calls for names

Outstanding track and field athletes, coaches and those who have contributed to the sport will be recognized in the Niagara Track & Field Hall of Fame, which has just issued its first call for nominations.

Nomination forms may be obtained from any board member of USA Track & Field's Niagara Association, the 13-member hall of fame committee -- local members include James Brown and Dave Davis -- or by calling Marc Grosso, the chairman, at 425-4925. Nominations are due June 1.

Noise barrier

Who would have thought fit people could recover more quickly from exposure to sudden loud noise?

Research reported by the American College of Sports Medicine followed 33 women who underwent an eight-month cardiovascular training program. They were then subjected to 10 minutes of loud noise, and those who were fittest recovered most quickly.

Researchers suspect that those who are more fit had more metabolic energy necessary for recovery but said they need to do more studies to fully understand what is responsible.

National attention

Running coach Dennis McGrath's sharp eye on the Internet is responsible for catching these recent items of local interest. Ray Appenheimer, a St. Joseph's Collegiate Institute alumnus, took 10th place in the 3,000 meters at the USA Track & Field's indoor national championships with a time of 8:07.7.

Bill Frawley, Appenheimer's classmate at St. Joe's, ran a 1:07:25 to take third place and pick up $200 at the Anheuser Busch Colonial Half-Marathon in Williamsburg, Va. Lanny Doan, a former Buffalo runner, won the master's division in 1:16:35. And Ron Hess of East Aurora, a sophomore at Bucknell University, is ranked among the top 15 college runners by Eastern Track newsletter for his 4:14 mile and 2:29 for 1,000 meters.

A new entry to the race calendar, this coming Saturday's Bengal 5K Run at Buffalo State College, features an interesting twist. All runners will receive a printout of the race results that day.

Upcoming races

Bengal 5K Run, Buffalo State College, 9:30 a.m., Sat., 878-6001; Bemus Point Spring 5K Run, 10 a.m., Sat., 386-3130 Around the Bay, 30K, Hamilton, Ont., 9:30 a.m., March 29, 905-679-2219.

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