Bergen foot race attracts runners of all levels

By on July 29, 2012

by Kristina Gabalski

The Jenny Kuzma Memorial Bergen 5km has been growing in both participation and prestige over the past several years.

This year’s race is set for Saturday, August 11, at 8:30 a.m. at Hickory Park in the village. Organizer Eric Boyce says so far, 2010 was the largest race with 330 people signed up and 290 finishers. This year’s race is looking to top those numbers.

“The race is ahead of registration numbers from last year and in 2010 when the race had its largest turnout,” he says.

The Bergen 5km is part of the GRTC Rochester Runner of the Year Series, is sanctioned by USA Track & Field (USATF) and this year is hosting the 2012 USATF Niagara Association Championships, Boyce notes.

“USA Track & Field is the national governing body for track and field, long- distance running (including cross country and mountain-ultra-trail running) and race walking in the United States,” Boyce said. “The USATF Niagara Association territory is defined as the State of New York west of and including the counties of Oswego, Onondaga, Cortland and Broome. This includes the metropolitan areas of Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Jamestown, Ithaca and Binghamton. USATF encompasses the world’s oldest organized sports, the most watched events of Olympic broadcasts, the number one high school and junior high school participatory sport and more than 30 million adult runners in the United States.”

Because the Bergen 5km is hosting the USATF Niagara Championship this year, USATF Niagara is putting in an additional $2,900 in prize money, Boyce says.

In Western and Central New York, only the Chris Thater 5 km, held in Binghamton, is usually more competitive than the Bergen 5km; however, last year, Boyce says, the Bergen 5km was the most competitive.

“The race attracts runners from Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, international athletes, and some runners from out of state,” Boyce says.

The race is for all levels and gets elite runners who are trying to make Olympic Teams, “but the race also gets everyday runners who are just running for fun, run only a couple of times a week, joggers, first-time runners (and joggers), and walkers,” he says.

Last year’s winner was Linus Chumba of Nyack, NY (Kenya native) with a new course record time of 14:24. Maegan Krifchin of Syracuse – one of the top female USA runners who qualified for the Olympic trials for the marathon (which took place in January) – also set a course record for women with a time of 16:29.

Boyce says the 5km race will have five to eight music spots to entertain runners during the race.

“The race will also feature a raffle to give everyone a chance to win great prizes and will also be a way to raise more money for the scholarship and Camp Good Days,” he says.

Everyone who enters the race will receive raffle tickets. The sooner you register, the more tickets you get, Boyce says.

He adds that raffle tickets can be purchased the day of the race and prizes range from gift certificates to a pair of shoes.

The race has 40 sponsors including Power Bar and Wegmans, Boyce says. Triple O Mechanical is sponsoring a 3km $75 prize for the first male and female to reach the 3km mark. CIT Network Solutions is sponsoring a course record bonus.

“If a runner finishes in the top 50, they will win a pint glass or a performance dry fit running shirt with the Bergen 5k logo on it,” Boyce says. “Not many races give awards for finishing in the top 50.”

The race is named for Jenny Kuzma, who died at the age of 13 in 1990 after a nearly ten year battle with leukemia. Proceeds from the race go to a scholarship given to an 8th grade student at Byron-Bergen. This year’s proceeds will be divided between the scholarship and Camp Good Days and Special Times.

An on-line registration form is available at www.bergenroadrace.com. Registration fees are $15 by July 29; $20 by August 10; $25 day of race.