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Old First Night Run/Walk starts new chapter

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Competitors in the Old First Night race take off from the starting line at 8 a.m. on Saturday, July 30, 2016, outside the Sports Club. Competitor #287, Tyler Clark, center, was the overall winner of the race. CAROLYN BROWN/ DAILY FILE PHOTO

On Saturday, running and walking enthusiasts alike will gather together at the Chautauqua Sports Club to participate in a tradition promoting physical fitness and fun.

The Old First Night Run/Walk will start at 8 a.m., with participants encouraged to show up around 7:45 a.m.

The 2.7-mile race starts at the Sports Club on South Lake Drive and spans the perimeter of Chautauqua Institution, passing through Massey, Prospect, Pratt, North Lake, Miller Park and finishing back at the Sports Club.

Runners are expected to finish within 30 minutes, while walkers predict their time before the race and aim to finish as close to their prediction as possible.

Interested parties can sign up online at oldfirstnight.com until 5 p.m. Friday, or sign up at the Sports Club and on race day.

Refreshments will be provided, including bananas, water and cookies. The awards will be handed out after everyone finishes around 9:30 a.m. First-year Sports Club Director Deb Lyons is excited for Chautauquans to experience the event.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for Chautauquans of all ages and walks of life to come together, put on their running shoes and enjoy a beautiful morning running the perimeter of the grounds,” Deb Lyons said. “I can’t think of a better place to run.”

First-year Old First Night Run/Walk Coordinator Dana Lyons estimates more than 700 people will participate in the event. He wants to keep things simple this year and see how it plays out.

“My approach is to not make any major changes right now,” Dana Lyons said. “From there we’ll see how it unfolds.”

While the race will stay traditional with minimal changes, longtime Sports Club Director and Old First Night Run/Walk Coordinator Richard “Uke” Ulasewicz and Margaret “Peg” Ulasewicz will not be running the event for the first time since 1989.

Peg, 66, died in early May after a two-year battle with cancer. After his wife’s death, Uke stepped down from his role at Sports Club.

“We’ve known Peg and Uke for a number of years,” Deb Lyons said. “We just hope to make this race one Peg would be proud of.”

Peg will be featured on this year’s poster and T-shirt, according to Deb Lyons.

Director of Recreation Meg Pickard believes the event will be bittersweet.

“There’s going to be a lot of mixed feelings,” Pickard said. “There will be some sadness over Peg not being here, but jubilation that it continues on with Deb and Dana.”

Tags : Dana LyonsDeb LyonsOld First Night Run/WalkrecreationSports Club
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The author Josh Svetz

Josh Svetz is a senior at St. Bonaventure University serving as the recreation reporter for The Chautauquan Daily this summer. He’s interested in finding the larger conversation within sports and the different aspects explored inside the sports bubble. Follow him on Twitter @svetz17.

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