Relay Runners Finish Strong In Dunkirk

There were three runners who completed the entire 30 mile trek from The Resource Center in Jamestown to Washington Park. Pictured (from left) are Lisa Glasier, Rose Carr and Keith Gregoire. Submitted photos

Friday’s near record-breaking heat did nothing to dissuade the many participants in the Laurel Memorial Run flag relay, which concluded in Washington Park in Dunkirk that afternoon. The relay began at The Resource Center in Jamestown and was completed by several groups of runners who each completed one to three miles before handing off the flag to the next group.

Elaine Hotelling, who founded the run with husband Wayne in honor of their daughter, Laurel, was among those eagerly awaiting the runners’ arrival. This year marks the first year without the run’s namesake being a part of the event, as Laurel passed away in November. “It’s so different without her here,” Hotelling said. “But everyone has been filling in and helping, and keeping it light.”

The first arrivals at the park actually crossed the unofficial finish line twice. Shortly after 11 a.m., Janelle Cossin, a Gannon University student and Silver Creek native, and Mikayla Clark, a Silver Creek Central School student, arrived at the park with their bicycles, as they biked the entire 30 miles from Jamestown. After arriving, the pair left their bikes at the park and ran to the last relay group so that they could join them to run the last leg to the park.

After the cyclists, the next group to arrive at the park were the Laurel-thon runners at about 12:30 p.m. For these hardy few, there was no flag to hand off; rather, Rose Carr, Lisa Glasier and Keith Gregoire departed Jamestown at 6 a.m. and ran the entire 30 miles to Dunkirk.

Carr, a Cassadaga resident, has now completed the Laurel-thon three years in a row. “It was definitely hot. The biggest challenge was that there really was no shade along Route 60 once we got past Cassadaga.”

She and Glasier of Fredonia ran together, with their husbands, Jay Carr and Steven Glasier, driving behind with water, ice and plenty of encouragement. The pair are well on their way to reaching their fundraising goal of $1,000, as they had raised approximately $550 to date on Friday.

For Glasier, the Laurel-thon takes on a special meaning, as she raised five children, some of whom struggled with learning challenges. “I got help with my children, and now I’m giving help,” she said. “It feels really good to be a part of a community that finds value in every single individual.”

For Gregoire of Amherst, this was his sixth year completing the Laurel-thon, which he looks forward to every year. Gregoire’s goal is to run a marathon in every state; last week he completed four marathons and said, “I thought it would be a fun experiment to do that and then Laurel Run this weekend.” A fun experiment, indeed. Gregoire and Carr are also participating in the 8K run in Silver Creek on Saturday.

After the Laurel-thon trio arrived, the final group of relay runners arrived around 1 p.m., followed by a police escort. They were met with exuberant cheers and applause — and plenty of bottled water, pizza and sweets.

Among those gathered at the park to welcome the runners were groups from The Resource Center in Dunkirk. Lisa Pogorzeki, who worked with Laurel at The Resource Center, captured the bittersweet nature of this year’s run. “I worked with her for a long time. She was a really good friend of mine and I really miss her. We shared a lot. It’s different without her.”