The Seneca7 will introduce you to the wonders of Seneca Lake: rushing inlets, crashing waterfalls, banks bathed in golden sunlight and as the race website says, “all you have to do is run around it”. The Seneca7 consists of more than 325 seven-member teams, including many from across upstate New York, competing on a 77.7-mile course encircling Seneca Lake. Before they’ve finished they will have run through Watkins Glen and passed Seneca Lake wine country.
On Sunday, teams members will take turns running an entire 77.7 mile course around Seneca Lake starting, and ending, in Geneva. Truly a unique event for runners, the Seneca7 race, pioneered by race director C. D. Henderson, has become a staple of the spring season in all the communities surrounding Seneca Lake and has grown in popularity since the first relay held in 2011. In fact, this year’s race filled to capacity in just 45 minutes.
For the ultra-competitive runners, it’s an opportunity to meet rivals from previous years, avenge old losses, and break course records. And for beginners, the Seneca7 is the perfect chance to compete in an event with a team of like-minded athletes: camaraderie is a great motivator for training, and race course support makes running a shorter distance (as part of a much longer team distance) a real accomplishment.
The event has raised $52,000 for more than 40 area not-for-profits since 2011, including ‘charity slots’ – there are seven this year – and direct donations.
There will be more than 2,275 runners, and hundreds of team supporters and volunteers, hailing from across upstate, central, and western New York on Sunday.
Here’s everything you need to know if you are running, or plan on spectating in Geneva or anywhere along the 77.7 mile course…
Saturday. April 29th
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm Volunteer Check-In | Smith Opera House
1:00 pm – 4:00 pm Packet Pickup | Smith Opera House
4:00 pm Mandatory Pre-Race Briefing | Smith Opera House
Sunday, April 30th
5:30 am – 9:00am Bike Lounge Open for Bike Teams | Geneva Bicycle Center
6:00 am Race Start – Wave 1 | Downtown Geneva
6:45 am Race Start – Wave 2 | Downtown Geneva
7:45 am Race Start – Wave 3 | Downtown Geneva
8:15 am Race Start – Wave 4 | Downtown Geneva
9:00 am Race Start – Wave 5 | Downtown Geneva
9:15 am Race Start – Wave 6 | Downtown Geneva
5:00 pm – 9:00pm Post-Race Celebration | Lakefront Park
7:00 pm Lighting of Lakeside Bonfire – pending weather conditions
7:00 pm Awards Ceremony
7:57 pm Race Cutoff (If you haven’t finished, you’re done)
About Scoring & Results:
Preliminary results are distributed by email and fax following the race. Each year participants, fans, and followers of the race are surprised to learn that the results posted at the finish line aren’t necessarily the ‘final’ results. Results are typically finalized over the days following the race, and results are posted within a few days of the race. Here’s why…
Violations of rules on the course, including failure to follow race rules, failure to wear appropriate safety gear, and other infractions result in a 27 minute penalty being added to a team’s time.
Teams may be disqualified for serious rule violations.
The race takes place on a 77.7-mile course, over a period of 14 hours, and involves thousands of athletes, hundreds of volunteers, and a small committee of race organizers. Penalties are called in by volunteers throughout the race, and in some cases reported by aid station captains and officials at the conclusion of the event. In short, it may take a day or two for penalties to be tabulated, appeals to be considered, and results to be finalized.
Race organizers make every effort to educate teams about the rules, and the penalties for breaking them, before the race. Rules are published on the official website, and in the course guide each team is required to download and read before race day. The race directors also hold a pre-race briefing the day before the race, and each team is responsible for at least one member to this meeting. At this time the rules are discussed in detail.
Event organizers understand that teams are disappointed to learn that an added penalty or disqualification may have altered their final time and/or award in the event. The primary concern, however, is athlete safety. Rules, and the strict enforcement of them, is required as a part of the multi-county permits event organizers are issued each year.
Each year race organizers partner with area not-for-profit organizations, offering ‘charity slots’ – race entries sold at a higher price than standard entries, with the proceeds donated to the charity of the team’s choice.
“The organizations we’ve partnered with represent all aspects of charity work, from environmental groups to literacy groups,” says race co-director Jackie Augustine. “Our aim is to give back to the community that gives so much to this event.” This year’s charity slots were purchased by the following:
Meghan Rose Elmira, NY
Safe Harbors of the Finger Lakes Linda Kennedy Auburn, NY
Thrive to Survive
Ken Marvald Rochester, NY
Literacy Volunteers of Ontario-Yates Mark Rose Elmira, NY
Finger Lakes Zero Waste
Kate Kenney Pittsford, NY
Community Lunch Program
Darnell Pierce Kingston, NY
Family Counseling of the Finger Lakes
Reem Jishi Skaneateles, NY
Boys & Girls Clubs of Geneva
The Seneca7 started in 2011 with 75 teams. That year Runner’s World Magazine highlighted the race in an article. Between the media mention and word of mouth, event organizers found interest had doubled the following year. In 2017, 325 teams make up a very expanded field.
To help cut down on traffic congestion event organizers asked teams to volunteer to replace their team vehicles – typically minivans or SUV’s seating at least six – with fleets of bicycles. The idea: teams who accompany their runners around the lake on fleets of bicycles make for less congested exchange points.
“We knew it would be a hard sell the first year – adding a bicycling component to this race makes it an entirely different kind of event,” admits race co-director Jeff Henderson. “Still, we had to try.” In 2012, only 10 took to two wheels. Still, this number would grow each year. In 2017, an impressive 30 will forgo gasoline power in exchange for pedal power.
“Bicycle teams not only help reduce congestion along the course, but they are doing their part to help the environment, also an important consideration for our event,” says Henderson. To that end, race organizers have added perks to woo
potential cyclists, including a special ‘bike team lounge’ at Geneva Bicycle Center the morning of the race, and additional ‘goody bags’ earmarked just for cycling teams.
As the race has grown in popularity from year to year, it is not uncommon for teams to be shut out entirely during the
registration process. To promote the concept of bike teams, race organizers offer any team that commits to completing the race vehicle-free first chance to register.
Team captains aren’t ashamed to admit that a guaranteed spot in the race motivated their teammates to plan to ride on raceday.
Following the Race Live:
Social Media is flooded with photos and videos during raceday. Check out Facebook, Twitter (@TheSeneca7) and Instagram and look for the hashtag #Seneca7. You can also check out a live interactive map to follow your friends and favorite teams during the race.
FingerLakes1.com will have a mash-up of all the best tweets, photos and videos including links to the full results on Sunday night. Good luck to all the participants!