October 27, 2021

Races get back on track

Mother’s Day 5K is 1st YMCA contest in more than a year

Kevin Conlon/city editor

Runners begin the Mother’s Day 5K race Saturday in Beaudry Park in Cortland. It was the first race held by the Cortland YMCA since 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic began.

When the first wave of 10 runners stepped onto the course of the Mother’s Day 5K on Saturday in Cortland’s Beaudry Park, wearing masks over their mouths, it marked the first race that the Cortland YMCA had in more than a year, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Andy Ryan, 20, of Cortland won the race in a time of 18:21, while Vanessa Fitts won the women’s division in a time of 22:44.

Ryan said afterward it felt good to get out to run.

He hadn’t raced all last year and had not raced much since high school.

“You need races to motivate yourself to train,” Ryan said.

The COVID-19 precautions Saturday were not a problem, he said, although one of the ear straps on his mask snapped and the mask fell into a puddle on the race course.

”I’m all vaccinated, so I felt confident,” said Ryan, a Binghamton University student who is also substitute teaching at Cortland High School.

Kevin Conlon/city editor

Andy Ryan of Cortland reaches the finish line first Saturday in the annual Mother’s Day 5K.

“It was a good, fun experience, Heidi Effinger, 45, of Homer, said after the race.

The social worker at Randall Middle School and coach of the modified girls lacrosse team at Cortland High School said she is comfortable with COVID-19 safety protocols because she is familiar with them from work and while she exercises.

“I go to the gym, so I’m used to it,” she said.

About 70 people participated in the race, a typical turnout for the annual event, one of a half-dozen 5K races scattered through the year that are sponsored by the YMCA.

“It’s definitely nice to have something to look forward to,” said Hannah Gibbons-Arthur, the events and outreach coordinator for the YMCA, after the runners took the course in seven waves.

Runners had to wear masks before and after the race and while on the roads if they were within 6 feet of others.

A few people had concerns about COVID-19 protocols but apprehension seemed to ease as more people had received their vaccines and the fact the race was outdoors, Gibbons-Arthur said.

A race earlier this year was canceled as it was too early to plan one during the pandemic, and a Halloween Pumpkin Run was added on Oct. 23 to take its place and keep the Borg Warner race series at its typical six races.

Ryan said winning the Mother’s Day 5k had special significance to him as a return to racing and because the event is dedicated every year to his deceased aunt, whose maiden name was Kim Ryan.

“It was a good way to get back,” he said.