Gail Wagner organized the first Meaghan's 5K near her home in Webster, N.Y., a Rochester suburb. The race began and ended at a church parking lot in town. The runners proceeded along the flat, straight roads of the town, which lies on the shore of Lake Ontario. With Meaghan Latone's story fresh in the minds of area residents, the turnout was greater than expected. The location proved too small to accommodate the influx of more than 800 runners and walkers.
As a result, the organizers moved the 2009 race to Victor, another suburb of Rochester. The large public school campus was ideal, but the route that year had more hills, twists and turns. Another larger-than-expected turnout prompted yet another move.
The 2010 run was hosted in Greece, N.Y., a few miles west of Rochester. Participants began and ended at Lakeshore Community Church. The course is a perfect rectangle, "just four left turns," Wagner points out [source: Wagner]. The path is entirely flat and proceeds along residential streets. Local police block off the traffic lanes used by runners. The U.S. Track and Field Association, the main organizing body for the sport, sanctions Meaghan's 5K. USTFA officials measure and certify the distance.
The 2011 Meaghan's 5K is scheduled for April 30 on this same course in Greece. Runners look forward to the race because the long straight sections and flat terrain offer an opportunity for personal best runs or for a benchmark against which to measure the season's progress.
The race is open to both runners and walkers. It attracts serious runners, recreational joggers and those who just want to cover the distance. Many participants have been touched by cancer in some way. It's mainly a race for participants rather than spectators.
The event is family-oriented, attracting many young people. A playground is available at the church for children. Age-group winners get trophies; food is available afterwards. Participants in 2010 attended a post-race party featuring a band led by Meaghan's brother Sean.
On the next page, you'll read about the results of past Meaghan's 5K races.