A hot, sticky Memorial Day weekend to kick off summer is welcome news for many.
Except maybe for runners in Sunday’s Buffalo Marathon.
Temperatures over the muggy holiday weekend will peak Saturday in the upper 80s. It will be a little less hot – but still humid – on Sunday, with a chance of scattered showers and thunderstorms through Monday.
Temperatures at the 6:30 a.m. race start time on Sunday will be in the upper 60s, according to the National Weather Service.
Considering the forecast, Buffalo Marathon organizers have stepped up education efforts beyond just telling runners to stay hydrated.
“It’s not a huge mountain, but they’ve got to understand it’s not going to be 45 degrees like they’ve been training in,” said race director Greg Weber.
Race organizers are taking several steps to help runners deal with the heat:
• Three tons of ice will be put out at various spots on the course, as well as extra water at water stations.
• The Buffalo Fire Department will have additional emergency medical personnel on the course and will open up fire hydrants equipped with fog misters.
• Residents along the course are being asked to put out sprinklers, and some businesses along the course have already agreed to put out sprinklers.
In his nine or 10 years involved with the marathon, Weber said he’s never seen this type of forecast for the race.
“We are taking every precaution we can,” he said.
In terms of the forecast, the thermometer at Buffalo Niagara International Airport is expected to reach the upper 80s on Saturday. It will be a little cooler as you get closer to Lake Erie and a little warmer inland, said National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Welch. Areas just south of Rochester will be approaching 90 on Saturday, Welch said.
On Sunday, the high temperature at the airport is expected to reach 84 or 85 and then right around 80 on Monday. “It’s definitely going to be warm,” he said.
Sunday’s course, which is set up for a full and half marathon, starts and ends in front of the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center.
Roads on the course will close and open on a rolling basis. The starting area closes at 4 a.m., with the first road closures beginning at 4:30 a.m. up Delaware Avenue toward Delaware Park and into the West Side. More closures go into effect at 5 a.m., including a section of downtown and other roads near the park.
When the race starts at 6:30 a.m., the rest of the course, including some roads on the course northeast of the park, including parts of Starin and Hertel avenues, will close.
The earliest roads to close will reopen on the West Side and part of downtown from 10 to 11 a.m. The northern part of the course reopens to traffic starting at noon and areas near Elmwood will reopen at 1:30 p.m.
There’s also a 5K race that starts at 8:30 a.m. Saturday and utilizes Pearl and Franklin streets and Delaware Avenue, with Barker Street as the northernmost point and Niagara Square at the southernmost point.
Weber asked drivers on the course to slow down and those who unexpectedly encounter part of the course to “just have a little patience” in order to ensure safety of runners and volunteers.
Organizers are trying to grow the race and help the community, Weber said.
“We want to see this as an event for Buffalo and Western New York,” he said, “not an event to dread because of some road closures.”