It's the course that makes the race. And the weather. But mostly the course.
The final mile of the 10-mile journey through Lockport climbs the hill on Market Street, a steep end to a long race that probably included snow and wind. And that snow and wind probably made the stretch on Harrington Road particularly brutal. And lonely. And causing runners to question some of their life choices.
It's a running tradition that goes under the tag line, "Western New York's Toughest Road Race." In its 47th year, the second-oldest race in Western New York is getting a bit of a face lift.
Oh, it's the same course for the Feb. 10 event.
But it's no longer the Lockport Y10.
The event has migrated across the street with the historic Palace Theater as the race venue and charitable beneficiary. And it has a new name, "Lockport 10."
As the Lockport Family YMCA merged with YMCA Buffalo Niagara, the long-time relationship between the Y and the race dissolved.
But the race goes on.
"I talked with Chris Parada, the executive director of the Palace, and he was like, if it has been a first-year race, I would have said no, but since it's already established, let's run with it," said Jeff Tracy, who has been the race director for the last 22 years. "I said everything's in place. I talked to the sponsors and most of the sponsors will keep supporting the race. The whole thing with Chris is let's go big."
— LockportsToughest (@RunLockport) October 11, 2017
With the new venue and new name come a few new opportunities which included beer, bands, and finisher's medals.
The event will have registration at the Palace, located at 2 East Ave. in Lockport (across the street from the YMCA) with the post-race festivities in the theater. Live music will come from Northend Revival, a soulful blues rock band from Lockport. Beer will be available for the first time ever at the race.
"The Palace has a tavern's license, so we will have beer," Tracy said. "Whether it's a national brand or local, we don't know yet. We're trying to reach out to someone local to supply that."
Local remains the theme when it comes to another potential first-time offering: finisher's medals.
"I'm going to try to offer finisher medals made locally," Tracy said. "We're advertising that right now. The Palace is big on using local vendors as much as possible, which I think is great."
Expect a few other new amenities, including porta-potties at the start and on the course.
Other than that, it's the same race runners have loved for 47 years. Along with the 10-mile option is a 5-mile race, which runs the second half of the course, and the return of the two-person relay.
"I think the first time I was around was the late-80s helping out," Tracy said. "I ran it a couple of times and then I just helped. When I first started being around the race, it was $2 preregistration, $3 day of and there were donuts and soups and orange drink from McDonald's. That was the post-race party."
Registration has increased and when it opens within a few days it will cost around $30.
But the best part of the race, the course, remains the heart of the event and the reason why runners brave February weather for a 10-mile run.
"This course is this race," Tracy said. "It's the hill at the finish line. It's Harrington Road if it's snowing and blowing. People complain about it. For me, I feel it's what makes the memories. If it was a picture-perfect day and everything was perfect, perfect, perfect, you wouldn't remember it as much. So people have war stories. They have Lockport 10 stories they can share for years."
Sunday, Nov. 5
- Dominator XC Race, 1.8 Miles, 3.6 Miles. 11:30 a.m., Delaware Park
Saturday, Nov. 11
- Lindsay’s Legacy Run, 5K, 11 a.m., Clinton Park, Clinton and Broad Streets, Tonawanda
Take A Breath For Life, 5K, 11 a.m., Hamburg Fair Grounds
Sunday, Nov. 12
- Run With The PAC, 5K, 10 a.m., Holy Cross Cemetery, 2900 South Park Ave, Lackawanna
Veteran’s Day 5K Run-Walk-Roll, 1 p.m., Fieldhouse, Fredonia State College