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Budd Bailey’s running column: New ultra run in Clarence can be adjusted to taste

Back in 1862, Western New Yorker Lewis Bennett, also known as Deerfoot, set the world record for covering the most territory in an hour. His distance was 11 miles, 720 yards in an event in London.

So what’s the two-hour record? That proved impossible to find in a search of the Internet. Since the marathon was once run in a tick under two hours and four minutes, it’s safe to say that the mark is a little less than 25 miles.

Don’t expect that record to fall today, but many runners will have the chance to get a good “long run” in on a nice fall day when they participate in “Miles for Haiti: A Two-Hour Run” in Clarence Center. The event will begin at 2 p.m. on the Clarence bike path.

“We were looking for a different way to raise funds for a school down in Haiti,” said Steve Biegner, one of the event’s organizers. “During a drive to Boston last Thanksgiving, we thought about a run that’s longer than normal – one that was designed to be about as long as the runners want. There are a ton of 5K races around.”

Zion Lutheran Church in Clarence Center has been a supporter of the Grace School in Ile à Vache, Haiti. Organizers there came up with a plan for a race that is unique in Western New York race calendars.

“There are only a few ultramarathons in the area,” Biegner said. “There’s one near UB that is six hours. We wanted to make something that was a long enough time for those who wanted to try something like a half-marathon. We also wanted to attract people who only wanted to run for a half-hour. People can do as much or as little as they want. A lot of people will be just walking.

“If people are still doing marathon training for later in the fall, this might work well for their schedule.”

The course extends 1.25 miles down the bike path, turns around, and goes back to the starting point. That could be a little boring if run for two hours, but there are some definite logistical advantages when compared to half-marathons that are point-to-point.

“We’ll have EMS people on both ends of the course, and one guy will roam the center section in-between,” Biegner said.

Has the idea caught on? It’s tough to say. Biegner was well aware of runners’ propensity to wait until the last minute to register. He had about 70 people signed up early in the week, but he knows the race is going up against this morning’s popular Linda Yalem Run.

“Western New York runners are amazing. We always wait until the last minute,” Biegner said. “Some churches are bringing teams. They are competing against each other.”

The entry fee for the race is $10, and registration is available from 12 to 1:30 p.m. today. Will it be remembered as a first time for an annual event or a one-shot deal? Biegner says he’ll know later today.

“I’d like to do it each year. My wife is acting as race director. Ask her at 6 or 7 p.m.” today, he said with a chuckle.

Speedy youngsters

If you look carefully, you can see the next generation of racers on the horizon … and coming fast.

For example, Sean McDonough – a 14-year-old sophomore from Kenmore West High School – did his first half-marathon last week at Schroon Lake in the Adirondacks. McDonough finished in 1 hour, 43 minutes and 18 seconds. That was seventh among those below the age of 30, and first among the under-18 crowd. McDonough finished 40th out of 463 in the overall standings.

Meanwhile, Niagara-Wheatfield freshman Fletcher Codd ran a 20:12 for five kilometers in the Hospice Dash in Lewiston. Even faster was 11-year-old Liam Regan in last week’s Tanya’s Trot in Akron. His time was 19:06, which won the event.

Race calendar

• Bemus Point 15K, Long Point State Park in Bemus Point, 9 a.m. today, 488-0788.

• Linda Yalem Safety Run, 5K, Alumni Arena at UB in Amherst, 9:30 a.m.. today, 645-2731.

• Miles for Haiti: A 2-Hour Run, 9535 Clarence Center Road in Clarence Center, 2 p.m. today, 868-1232.

• BobKat 5K, 218 Aqua Lane Park in Town of Tonawanda, 6 p.m. Thursday, 725-7414.

• Flight 3407 Memorial Race, 5K, Clarence Town Place Park, 9:30 a.m. Saturday.

• Muddy Viking Trail Run, 4 miles, 5013 Route 430 in Bemus Point, 10 a.m. Saturday, 830-6713.

• Run for the Park, 5K, 2982 Lakeview Road in Hamburg, 10 a.m. Saturday, 202-9142.

• “Cops & Kids” 4-Mile Run, 4455 Porter Road in Niagara Falls, 10 a.m. Saturday, 286-7263.

• Timon Fall Challenge, 5K, 601 McKinley Parkway in Buffalo, 10:30 a.m. Saturday, 826-3610.

• Chowder Challenge, 5K, Pine Woods Park in North Tonawanda, 11 a.m. Saturday, 523-3958.

• Race for Excellence, 5K, 496 Hertel Ave. in Buffalo, 11:30 a.m. Saturday, 819-4100 x111.

• Olivia’s 5K Wish Run, Evangola State Park in Irving, 11 a.m. Oct.. 6, 934-7499.