HAMBURG — The JP’s Foundation, along with the Parents’ Guild of Saints Peter and Paul School and Autism Services hosted the fifth annual Run the ’Burg for Autism 5k on Saturday, June 6. More than 1,500 participants registered to run or walk the course, which started and ended at JP Fitzgerald’s Restaurant on Clark Street in Hamburg.
According to Brian Attea, a member of the JP’s Foundation Board, 1,100 racers registered before the day of the race and 400 more signed up on the day.
“I am so excited to see all the support from the JP’s, Saint Pete’s and Hamburg community,” Attea said, thanking everyone for attending.
He noted how much the event has grown every year, since its inception five years ago. Last year, he recalled, brought about 1,300 participants.
Paula Smith, a first-time 5K runner, said she had only ever used a treadmill, but that she was intrigued by Run the ‘Burg’s cause.
“It looks like a great event,” she said, motioning to the crowd of runners and supporters in the parking lot at JP’s. “Look at all the people here to support autism. It’s really great.”
The course was secured by local volunteers and the Hamburg Volunteer Fire Company. Hamburg Village Police also helped keep the course safe and free of motor vehicles.
It started down Clark Street, toward McKinley Parkway, continued on side streets to Charlotte Avenue, eventually leading runners and walkers to Main and Buffalo streets and finally back to Clark Street.
Before the race began, Bob Brunner, owner of JP Fitzgeralds, welcomed all the participants and introduced the singer of the national anthem, George Miller.
A new addition to the race, this year, was a more advanced scoring system. ITS Buffalo Time, a family business from Lakeview, provided timing and photographs at the finish line, announced the winners and supplied the music.
Participants had several ways to check race results, as they happened. There was a kiosk that could print out scores, the information was updated in real time on a mobile app and television screens were displayed with the information, as well.
“Everyone can look up their photo, too,” ITS Buffalo Time Owner Tim Donovan said, of the photos that were taken automatically with a camera that was attached to the finish line.
“As far as we are concerned, this is the highest level of timing technology in the area.”
He added that his company teams up with Jaguar Timing for events like Run The ‘Burg.
The timing system, Donovan explained, was redundant. It recorded the finish time of every runner twice, for a more accurate result.
“We really enjoy events like this,” he said. “We’re part of the event. This is a great turnout and a great charity. I haven’t worked with better people.”
Kevin Smith, a 2003 graduate of Hamburg High School, was the first to cross the finish line with a time of 16 minutes and 30 seconds. Zach Tomasik, a 2007 Saint Francis High School Graduate and Hamburg resident, came in second.
“This race is great,” Tomasik said, adding that this year was the first time he entered Run the ‘Burg. “It’s one of the biggest [races] in the Southtowns. I prefer bigger races because they actually close down the street like this.”
Smith came in second place at last year’s race at 17 minutes and 29 seconds, but he managed to shave a minute off his time, this year.
“It’s been a beautiful day for this race, and the support from the crowd is great,” Smith said.
The event also included a party for all the racers at JP’s, a basket raffle and other activities. An inflatable obstacle course was available for kids, as well.