Runners from around the world are registering for the Mighty Niagara Half Marathon, slated for Saturday to benefit Niagara Hospice.
The marathon, held in conjunction with the Hospice Dash 5K, this year is attracting participants from England, Ireland, Mexico, Germany, Austria and Ethiopia, as well as Canada and the U.S.
It has grown steadily since its inception in 2009 as a 5K, with Race Chairman Paul Beatty Jr. adding the half marathon in 2011. It has become one of Niagara Hospice’s most successful fundraisers, as well as one of the most popular races in Western New York.
The scenic course begins at Artpark in Lewiston and continues along Lower River Road, travels through Old Fort Niagara and finishes along the shore of Lake Ontario at Porter-on-the-Lake Park.
There will be bands along the entire course, as well as before and after the run. The post-race party features a popular local band, Strictly Hip, as well as beer, water, hot dogs, snacks and much more.
“I get calls and emails from runners from all over the world interested in our event,” said Maureen Rizzo of Niagara Hospice, the race’s coordinator. “It’s very exciting to see more and more runners really make this a destination race. Not only is it good for our event, but it’s also great for local businesses. We really want to show off what our beautiful area has to offer.”
Ingrid M. Milosevic of Austria said she was visiting her friend, Julia Buczynski, during last year’s event and watched the race with great interest.
“Since it was so much fun for everybody, I wanted not only to come back but also to register myself,” Milosevic wrote in an email from Austria.
“This is the very first time I will do this myself, although I watched the Vienna City Marathon a couple of times and the Wachau Half-Marathon in Austria,” she added.
She said she was drawn by the “good atmosphere” along the course and at the finish line.
“I’m very much looking forward to the event,” she wrote.
The race also features a “Dress Like a Rock Star” contest as well as a team spirit award. Runners are encouraged to be creative and have fun.
Serious runners can compete for prize money, and trophies are awarded to the overall male and female finishers. Every runner will receive a custom finisher medal and more.
Niagara Hospice has provided end-of-life comfort, care and support since 1988 to more than 25,000 Niagara County individuals and families faced with terminal illness. No one is ever denied hospice care due to inability to pay. For more information, visit NiagaraHospice.org or call 716-HOSPICE.