Fall running season is here! Usually, in upstate New York, that means cool, crisp weather. However, we’ve had a wacky weather Summer followed by a Fall heat wave. What this meant was that race day temperatures hovered in the upper 80s! I would rather run in the cold (even with my Raynauds issue) than the heat any day. However, once I pay for a race, I’m all in. So, with that mindset, I headed the hour and ten minutes away to North Tonawanda, New York (past Buffalo, near Niagara Falls) for this race.
This race was part of a three day Sponge Candy Festival. I love all candy, but did not realize what a big deal this candy is around here. Sponge Candy comes in all flavors – dark chocolate, milk chocolate – even peanut butter. This event was meant to celebrate that and, more importantly, raise money for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
The race started at 4:30 pm. I arrived at 3 pm. The candy shop was located in the Wurlitzer Building, a famous building from the 1900s that used to be an organ factory. The candy shop included an ice cream area where you could also buy baked goods and other food. The candy shop was extensive with all sorts of goodies. Everything was decorated for fall, and it was all adorable. You could even see inside where they make the candy. They were generous with the samples – candy, flavored popcorn and special deals on candy apples.
I headed inside and got my bib. With your race entry, you got a raffle ticket to enter a raffle for a gift basket. Sadly, I did not win that. You could also buy tickets for other baskets being raffled off. They were all very nice – and included everything from gift certificates to wine to Sabres tickets and much more. It was extremely hot outside, so I hung out inside as long as I could. Outside, they had different vendor tables set up, as well as tables where you could buy food- hot dogs, hamburgers – even chowder soup. It was too hot for me to get soup, although it smelled great (and was only $1).
Around 4:20, we started heading towards the starting area. The certified course was in neighborhoods – with quite a few turns and some sections on the road and a small part where you had to run on the sidewalk. At 4:30, the siren sounded and we were off! There was no national anthem or announcements prior to the race start.
Before the race, I somehow lost my headphones. I was hoping music would distract me, but that option was gone. I knew I would be slow due to the heat and my weight gain. My main goal – as always – was to do the best I could – and never stop on the course. Thankfully, there were shady spots along the course. I just kept telling myself to run to the shade. Many people did the walk run strategy. I never did that – I just kept my pace. They did not have anyone calling out mile times – bummer. I like when they have signs letting you know where you are. There were people on the course with sprinklers and hoses, but I was too afraid of getting my phone wet to run through.
I won’t lie – this was a challenging race. It’s hard enough to run when you’re overweight, let alone when it’s 88 degrees out. The race seemed to last forever, especially the last mile. They had people along the course and one water stop – which I believe was around mile 2. I usually try to step it up that last mile, but I really could only muster up stepping it up the last 1/4 mile heading to the finish. I ended up finishing in 35:40 (134 out of 252 people, 9 out of 17 in my age group, 89/182 gender group) – a 11:30 min pace – ugh. But, it was hot and I’m heavy, so I can’t really expect much more. And actually, I’m cool with that number. It could have been way worse.
After the race, you got a bag of sponge candy. I also sampled some of the flavors – so yummy! They also had bananas, apples, yogurt, protein bars and even a veggie tray. You also got a tshirt with race registration. I hung around for the awards ceremony and raffle drawings. After that, I headed out.
Overall, this was a nice race. The setting is great – the shop is fun, the festival is clever and I love the theme. The course is decent – I like that it was flat. I would love if they added mile markers. There were also a few times that cars came a bit too close for comfort, but I know that can be hard to control.
Pre and post race activities and amenities were good. They had porta potties outside and one real bathroom inside. Parking was easy and ample – right on site. Hopefully, next year won’t be as warm. I’m guessing some people dropped out due to the extreme conditions. A bug kudos to everyone who completed this. Even if you were a thin, fast runner, this type of weather is still a challenge to run in.
My next race will be a Halloween themed one. I just thought of my costume idea today (not to be revealed yet lol). Here’s hoping for more seasonable weather! Until then, see you on the roads!
Time: 4:30 PM
Weather: Sunny, upper 80s, not windy
Location: Platter’s Chocolates
908 Niagara Falls Blvd
North Tonawanda, NY 14120
Results: It’s Your Race
Amenities: Parking (ample, on site), Multiple porta potties
More Info: Webpage
Facebook: Event page
Press/Photos: Buffalo News Slideshow