By KEVIN KELLEY
Several hundred runners from the Westshore and beyond are expected to lace up their running shoes Saturday morning as the five-mile North Coast Challenge road race returns to the grounds of St. John Medical Center.
The course is the same as it was in 2010, race director Dave Camerino said. Last year, construction work at the Westlake hospital forced the race to move to Crocker Park.
Runners start on Center Ridge Road heading west, turn south on Bradley Road, northeast on Bailus Road through the Bradley Woods Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks, then back east on Center Ridge to the finish line.
Camerino said runners like the scenic, shady pass through the Metroparks, as well as the flatness of the entire course.
“Starting and finishing on Center Ridge has good visibility for the runners with four lanes, and is wide to cover a good number of participants,” Camerino told West Life.
Weather is a variable all runners must face. Last year’s race featured hot, humid weather. Camerino’s ideal weather conditions? Partly cloudy with a light wind, with temperatures 60 to 65 degrees.
North Coast Challenge has again increased the prize money for the top male and female finishers to $750, up from $500 last year.
“Prize money does have an effect on attracting good athletes,” Camerino said.
Camerino said he believes only two other races – the Akron Marathon and the Cleveland Marathon and 10K race, offer higher cash prizes than North Coast Challenge.
An additional $1,000 bonus will go to the winner if he or she breaks the course records – 22:53 for men and 26:12 for women.
Second- and third-place finishers will each receive $400 and $300, respectively. The top finishers in the 40-50, 50-60 and 60 and older age categories will each receive $200.
The Rocky River resident said several attributes help North Coast Challenge live up to its claim as “Ohio’s Premier Five-Mile Race”: among them, the layout of the course and event; the start- and finish-line setups; the reasonable entry fee; and the great support from volunteers and the community of Westlake.
Through the work of the Celebrate Westlake Foundation, proceeds from the race benefit numerous Westshore nonprofit organizations, such as Westlake Kiwanis and Youth Challenge.
Race-day registration begins at 6:45 a.m., with both the five-mile run and two-mile walk beginning at 8:30 a.m.
The walk has a new course – west on Center Ridge, north on Fairway Drive, west onto Shadow Creek Drive, then east to the finish on Center Ridge.
The preregistration fee charged through yesterday was $20. The cost is $25 for those entering up through Saturday morning. Registration forms can be picked up and dropped off at the Westlake Recreation Center, 28955 Hilliard Blvd. Forms can also be downloaded from the race’s official website, http://www.northcoastchallenge.com.
A kids’ fun run for kids up through age 13 begins at 9:45 a.m. Awards will be presented to the top three boys and girls finishing in each race division. The cost to register for the kid’s fun run is $10 with a T-shirt, $5 just to race.
A Health and Fitness Expo on the hospital grounds will include vendors with the latest in health and wellness products. In addition, the St. John
Medical Center Community Outreach department will offer free blood pressure readings and information on how to improve one’s overall health.