The majority of races in Western New York center on one distance — the 5K. That's 3.1 miles, usually on roads in these parts and traditionally targeted as flat and fast. It's a short enough distance to cover in around 30 minutes, but long enough to test your endurance.
Running a mile, however, that's an entire different kind of race.
And for 22 years it's been the featured event of the local running club Checkers A.C.
Tom Droz, the president of Checkers A.C. since 2015 describes the mile race this way:
"In my opinion, the mile is the roller coaster of running. You dread the whole thing, it's over quicker than you expected and most people when they finish want to do it again."
Droz, who also has been the race director of the Checkers A.C. Mueller Mile for five years, said the mile offers more of a runners high than a 5K.
And while you may be thinking "I can't race a mile!" never fear. There are four different races and three categories to suit all running levels when the Mueller Mile runs on Aug. 9 in Tonawanda.
The One Mile Fun run begins at 6:30 and is great for families or first-time mile runners.
The majority of the field enters the Open Citizens Race at 7 p.m. That's followed by the elite divisions with the women beginning at 7:20 and the men at 7:30.
"The fun run is for novices and the whole family. You can bring the kids out to run that," Droz said. "We have the most people in the Citizens Open. You run with that whole group and try to keep up with them. That's a lot of fun and you're usually done in 7 to 10 minutes. Then we have the elite women and the elite men.
"Once you're done with your race, you get to watch the other races. You can see the elite runners finish their races. It's a blast because our race is set up so that final turn is less than a tenth of a mile. You see everyone springing to the finish line. We usually have a big crowd watching the elite women and men."
The Mueller Mile, which for 22 years has raised money for the Kevin Guest House, has gone through multiple courses, beginning at the Erie Basin Marina with a course to the observation tower and back. The course has been in Lockport and Orchard Park, then moved to its current location in Tonawanda in 2009. The 1-mile course starts on Main Street, south of Young, then veers left down Grove Street, turns left on Minerva Street (where the half-mile mark is), turns left on Williams Street, then left on Broad Street to the finish line.
While the mile race is not nearly as popular as the 5K, the Checkers A.C. Mueller Mile is one of three in Western New York. The mile season begins at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 1, as the Greater Buffalo Track Club hosts its 1-Mile Track Race at Sparky Adams Field on Parker Boulevard in Tonawanda.
The Lancaster Striders host their mile race at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 23 at Como Lake County Park in Lancaster.
And if you've never run a 1-mile race, Droz wholeheartedly believes you should give it a try. Even if, maybe especially if, you're new to running.
"It's a great way to get into running," Droz said. "There's no pressure and you're done in less than 15 minutes."
Run the Runway
The latest entry in the Western New York 5K circuit has its own unique spin. The Calspan Run The Runway 5K will be at the Niagara Falls International Airport. And yes, the course will be on the runway.
The course will be run exclusively on the airport's main 10,825-foot-long runway and adjoining taxiways.
“We are pleased to host this first of its kind event to take place on the aviation side of our airport," William R. Vanecek, the NFTA’s Director of Aviation said. "Using the main runway as the race course will give participants a unique perspective as they will have an opportunity to be on a course they have never run before.”
Note that both participants and guests will be screened before accessing the secure side of the terminal, just as they would before taking a flight.
The race beneficiaries will be the Niagara Aerospace Museum and the Friends of Family Support Association for the 914th Air Refueling Wing.
And the addition to the series is …
With the demise of the Linda Yalem Safety Run 5K, the Buffalo News Runner of the Year Series will add a fall 5K to take its place.
That race will be Tom Donnelly's Hall of Fame 5K. The race, sponsored by the WNY Running Hall of Fame, takes place at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 31 at Elmwood and Bidwell avenues.
Thursday, July 12
- Daemen Athletics Summer Track Series No. 2, 6 p.m., Williamsville South High School Track
Saturday, July 14
- Lake View Field Day 5K Run and Family Fun Walk, 8 a.m., Saint John Paul II Parish, 2052 Lakeview Rd., Lakeview.
- Tuscarora Nation 10K, 9 a.m., Tuscarora Indian School, 2015 Mount Hope Rd., Lewiston
- The Janeen Kelly Memorial Run 5K, 10 a.m., Mang Park, Kenmore
- The Woods at Bear Creek Trail Races, 3 miles, 7 p.m., The Woods at Bear Creek Resort, Franklinville
Sunday, July 15
- 5K Mission Possible, 8:30 a.m., Zion United Church of Christ, 15 Koenig Circle, Tonawanda
- The Woods at Bear Creek Trail Races, 4 miles, 6 miles, 8 a.m., The Woods at Bear Creek Resort, Franklinville
Tuesday, July 17
- Okay 5K Fun Run/Wellness Walk, 7 p.m., Delaware Park's Ring Road
Wednesday, July 18
- ESB Engineering Scholarship Run 5K, 7 p.m., Buffalo Harbor State Park, 1111 Fuhrmann Blvd.
Thursday, July 19
- Daemen Athletics Summer Track Series No. 3, 6 p.m., Williamsville South High School Track
- St. John Vianney 5K Kickoff Run, 6:30 p.m., St. John Vianney R.C. Church, 2950 Southwestern Blvd., Orchard Park
- Tim Frank Memorial Canal Fest, 4 miles, 7 p.m., Crazy Jakes, 26 Webster St., North Tonawanda
Friday, July 20
- Subaru Buffalo 4-mile Chase, 7 p.m., Bidwell Parkway
- St. Mary's 5K Chowder Chase, 7 p.m., St. Mary's Church of Swormville, 6919 Transit Rd., East Amherst
Saturday, July 21
- Laurel Run, 8K, 8:30 a.m., Silver Creek Village Square, corner of Central Avenue and Main Street, Silver Creek
- Run for Life 5K, 9 a.m., Life Church, 4928 Seneca St., West Seneca
- St. Amelia Christmas in July 5K, 9 a.m., St. Amelia Youth Ministry, 210 St. Amelia Dr., Tonawanda
- TRZ Races, 10K, 5K, 9 a.m., Frewsburg Fireman's Grounds, Hazard Street, Frewsburg
- Character Chase 5K, 9:30 a.m., The Village of Hamburg
- Westfield Golden Hawks 5K, 10 a.m., Welch Field, Elm and 3rd Steets, Westfield
Sunday, July 22
- Sunrise Camel Spider, 5K, 7:30 a.m., American Legion Post 567, 3740 N. Buffalo Rd., Orchard Park.
- EVL-9 and EVL-4 Trail Runs, 9.7 miles and 4.2 miles, 9:30 a.m., Holiday Valley Mountain Sports Center, Ellicottville
- Kromer Family 5K Fundraiser, 10 a.m., Youngstown Volunteer Fire Co., 625 Third St., Youngstown.
Wednesday, July 25
- Ronald McDonald House 5K, 6:30 p.m., Ronald McDonald House, 780 West Ferry St.
Thursday, July 26
- Daemen Athletics Summer Track Series No. 4, 6 p.m., Williamsville South High School Track
Friday, July 27
- Seneca Hickory Stick 5K Summer Sizzler No. 2, 7 p.m., Seneca Hickory Stick Golf Club, 4560 Creek Rd., Lewiston
Saturday, July 28
- Randolph Toymakers 5K Fundraiser, 8 a.m., 29 Center St., Randolph
- The McGreevy Run for Our Heroes 5K, 8:30 a.m., Portville Central School, 500 Elm St., Portville
- Wild 5K, 5K trail run, 9 a.m., Jamestown Audubon Center, 1600 Riverside Rd., Jamestown
- Dash 'N Splash Family Fun Run, 2.5 miles, 9 a.m., Frontier Middle School, 2751 Amsdell Rd., Hamburg
- Battle on Buffalo 5K, 9 a.m., Delaware Park
- Darren Manzella-Lapeira Memorial 5K Run, 10 a.m., American Legion Post 434, 110 W. Main St., Brocton
Sunday, July 29
- Lindsay Matthews Scholarship Race 5K, 10 a.m., Orchard Park Soccer Complex, 6909 Milestrip Rd., Orchard Park
Tuesday, July 31
- Jackhammer Trail Series No. 1, 3.2 Miles, 6:30 p.m., Chestnut Ridge Park, Orchard Park