FLORENCE — The second annual Happy Valley Half Marathon & 5K will take place at Look Park on Sunday, Oct. 22. This event is designed to combine a challenging course with beautiful foliage and great food. It was voted the third-best road race in the Valley Advocate Readers’ Poll in its first year. This year, the event has partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County, and a portion of the funds raised will support that organization.
The 5K and Half Marathon courses are both USATF-certified. Registration is $65 for the half-marathon and $30 for the 5K. The race fee includes a free beer and taco as part of the post-race party in Look Park.
“We created this race to add to the amazing running scene here in the Pioneer Valley. We want the Happy Valley Half Marathon & 5K to become a destination race that shows runners the beauty of Western Massachusetts in the fall,” said Grant Ritter, Western Mass. native, running coach, and creator of the Happy Valley Half Marathon & 5K. He has been running in the Pioneer Valley for more than 30 years.
“It all started on a run,” added Justin Killeen, owner of 50/50 Fitness and Nutrition in Hadley. “We were talking about how incredible the Valley truly is, and started to brainstorm ways that we could highlight and embody all of its unique qualities. At first, it was about the run and beauty, but then equally as important was the post-race experience and lasting impression.”
Jen Loebel, Big Brothers Big Sisters Development director, added that “we are thrilled to team up with Justin Killeen and Grant Ritter for the second annual Happy Valley Half Marathon & 5K. It’s fantastic to think that not only will we have a hand in presenting an award-winning race to the community we love and serve, but that funds raised from this partnership will support Big Brothers Big Sisters of Hampshire County in our mission to match more children facing challenges with caring adult mentors. It’s a win-win situation for us and the youth we serve.”
The road race begins at 9 a.m., with post-race activities scheduled shortly after. The top male and female half-marathon finishers will receive a $250 cash prize and a free admission to the following year’s event. Second-place finishers will receive a $100 gift card, third-place finishers will receive a $50 gift card, and the top three finishers in each age group will receive gift cards, coupons, and discounts from local area sponsors. All half-marathon finishers will receive a medal at the finish line.