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YALEM MEMORIAL RUN WILL SHINE SPOTLIGHT ON CHILDREN'S SAFETY

If what the late Dr. George Sheehan said holds true -- "The difference between a jogger and a runner is an entry blank" -- then this is the time of year when we should all be runners.

The hot, humid weather is behind us and we all know what will be here a few months from now. And unlike spring, when most people are trying to get back into racing shape, this is the time of year when runners start peaking. The cool, crisp days of fall are the perfect time to race.

The Linda Yalem Memorial 5K Run next Sunday also offers the perfect reason to race. A chance to honor the memory of a University at Buffalo student by running with hundreds of others near the path where she was killed.

The Ellicott Creek Trailway is a wonderful place to do long weekend runs or measured mile runs -- every tenth mile is marked along the 5.3-mile path -- and there isn't a time when I'm on it that the murder of the UB student, training on the pathway for the New York City Marathon, doesn't come to mind.

We should all be grateful that Nan Harvey, Dennis Black and a dedicated staff of volunteers have found a way to celebrate her life and raise the awareness of running safety for others through the race in her honor.

As time passes by -- it's been nine years since the unsolved murder -- race officials keep looking for ways to keep the memory alive. This year's race celebrates children. There will be four separate races for ages 12 on down after the main race at 10 a.m. is over, and children's ID kits will be part of the gear bags given to runners.

12K race set for Oct. 4

Here's a chance for most everyone to set a personal best in a race. When was the last time you ran a 12K race? Thought so. You don't find a lot of 7.2-mile races on the schedule.

It's called the Thundering Herd Distance Run on Oct. 4, and it's Ed Kucewicz's way to keep his former race, a half marathon, alive and still get a race permit from the city.

If you recall, the Thundering Herd half marathon had a disastrous final run last year when Kucewicz's volunteers failed to show up. Water was a scarce resource and many of the intersections for the 13.1-mile race weren't covered.

Kucewicz took his lumps and is back, hopefully, with more dependable volunteers and a shorter distance to cover.

"I was really pretty discouraged after last year's race," he said. But he said so many people came up to him afterward and said how much they supported his efforts at putting on longer races that he came up with the 12K. The race begins and ends at the Lafayette Tap Room on Pearl Street.

National records

Tony Napoli and Henry Sypniewski continue to defy the calendar by setting national records at a time when a lot of their peers have long since retired.

The latest from this quick pair came at the Police Chase last week, when Napoli rewrote the 5K record for 78-year-old men by running a 22:18. That's an average of 7:11 per mile, and it was nearly two minutes faster than the existing record of 24:01.

Unfortunately for Napoli, he's the same age as Warren Utes of Park Forest, Ill., who owns the fastest 5K time for every age from 68 to 77. Police chase director Arnie Walker says USA Track & Field officials, who verified Napoli's pending record, told him Utes is currently training for a marathon and hasn't run a 5K for a while.

Sypniewski, who just turned 80, broke an even bigger record at the Nickel City Aid to Athletes Run. His 24:50 for the 5K broke the existing 80-84 age group record by two seconds. Both records should stand because the courses were certified and the race directors, Walker for the Police Chase, and John Beishline for the Nickel City Run, know the importance of getting the proper paperwork in on time.

Sypniewski could have broken the record earlier, at the Bishop Timon-St. Jude Run, but the course was not certified, despite the race application saying so.

Upcoming races

Shea's 5K Run, downtown Buffalo, 11:30 a.m., today, 884-7994 or 649-5007; Joanne Severin Cinelli 5K Memorial Run, South Buffalo, 6:30 p.m., Fri., 878-7713; Daniel W. Feather Memorial 5K Race, Jamestown, 11 a.m., Sept. 26, 483-7537; Holiday Valley DARE Run the Valley 5K Run, Ellicottville, 11 a.m., Sept. 26, 699-2345; Linda Yalem 5K Memorial Run (Buffalo News Runner of the Year race), UB Amherst Campus, 10 a.m., Sept. 27, 645-6435; Sheriff Pat Gallivan Run for Integrity, 5K, Como Park, Lancaster, 9 a.m., Oct. 3, 549-5987 or 683-3475; Thundering Herd Distance Run, 12K, downtown Buffalo, 9 a.m., Oct. 4, 893-6269.

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