AMHERST, N.S. – Runners will be back in the Amherst Industrial Park on Feb. 17, as the Amherst Valentine Run returns for its fifth year.
Upwards of 200 participants are expected once again for this year’s event, which will include races in the half marathon, 10K, 5K and 3K distances.
The event will also once again coincide with the annual Amherst Winter Carnival, running from Feb. 13-19.
“It makes sense for us to have it at the same time because there are 100 activities you can do all that weekend, so it’s nice to have this as well,” said Rachna Minocha, one of the event’s key organizers and sponsors. “It brings people into town, and hopefully they stick around for a bit.”
All races start at West Highlands Elementary School, with the 3K route taking in a section of McCully Street before turning around and returning to the start. The other three distances make use of the wide roads of the industrial park, which are only lightly traveled on weekends.
A slight adjustment has been made to make the half marathon route even safer this year, eliminating a busy section of Anson Avenue in favour of a quiet residential area involving York, Duke, Park and Patterson Streets.
“These streets aren’t busy at all, while the other spot had railroad tracks and traffic so it was always a danger point,” explained Rick McKenney, sponsor and organizing committee member. “It will be a lot safer for everyone and more fun for everyone.”
Numbers are looking strong for this year, with 122 registered as of Wednesday.
All participants receive a running hat, medal designed by Ronnie Black, and a post-race meal, and the race is also chip timed.
Proceeds from the event are distributed in donations to several area organizations, and many have volunteers on hand to assist with putting on the race. Groups involved include the Cumberland Sporting Club, the Amherst Youth Town Council, Bright Beginnings, the Cumberland YMCA and a local basketball team. The Amherst Fire Department also has trucks and personnel on hand for assistance.
The Town of Amherst is very supportive, according to Minocha, as is the West Highlands school, which not only serves as the host venue on race day, but also hosts the post-race meal and the pre-race expo on Friday evening.