These road races, both 5 kilometers long, usually attract decent turnouts, with participating runners coming from all across the state. Last year’s Nate the Great Title Town run attracted close to 400 runners, with Paige’s attracting more than 350 runners in 2007.
“Our run has been run on the first Saturday in June every year since it has started,” said Chris Arnold, the director of Paige’s Butterfly Run. “This situation happened about five years ago, when Nate the Great was run on the same weekend, but we just moved ours to the last Saturday in May.”
A hair-raising experience: Running alongside some of boxing’s greats, including Marvelous Marvin Hagler (No. 2) and Livingstone Bramble (No. 9), makes for a memorable experience at Canastota’s annual Nate the Great 5K.
This year, for the first time, Paige’s Butterfly Run occurs in conjunction with Taste of Syracuse festival, June 6 to 8. This festival, growing in popularity, brings food and entertainment to Clinton Square (another event taking place during the festival is the Syracuse New Times Syracuse Area Music Awards (Sammys), 6 to 11 p.m. on Friday, June 6). “We are now in with the Taste of Syracuse Festival, so we really couldn’t move anything this year.”
Paige’s Butterfly Run, which also features a 3K fun run/walk and a 40-foot caterpillar crawl for ages 5 and under, is in its 12th year. The event is held in memory of Paige Yeomans Arnold, who was a first grader in 1993 when she was diagnosed with leukemia; she died the next year. In 1997, a group of teachers at Paige’s school, Palmer Elementary, 7864 Hicks Road in Baldwinsville, approached her father and said they wished to hold an event in Paige’s honor.
Arnold, a runner himself, created Paige’s Butterfly Run in 1999. The Arnold family wanted to raise money for the battle against pediatric cancer and to have a scholarship at Baldwinsville’s Baker High School implemented in Paige’s name.
While Arnold said he would miss the Palmer Elementary venue for the race, it was time for a move. “It was a great thing when we ran the event in Baldwinsville,” he noted. “We always had loyal people come out every year. There were minor problems, though, like parking and transportation to and from the event. We had to bus people, but moving it to downtown Syracuse should help get rid of these problems. I just hope we get the same people back, and get some new people involved to raise more money to help in this cause. I believe moving downtown will be a success.”
For its part, Nate the Great is run in Canastota in conjunction with the Boxing Hall of Fame weekend. It’s popular with runners because they actually traverse the 3.1-mile course with some of boxing’s greats, such as Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Marlon Starling and Livingstone Bramble.
Doug Holdridge, race director and father of the namesake Nate, expressed his disappointment at the conflict this year. “It’s unfortunate that two great events have to take place on the same day,” he said. “We can’t really do much about it because our run is wrapped around the Boxing Hall of Fame weekend. Something like this happens only once every six years. It’s just really unfortunate, but I hope that both events are a success again this year.”
Nate the Great also supports a cause: It is held in memory of Doug’s son Nate Holdridge, a Canastota student and avid runner who was killed in a car accident in January 1996. “We want no child left out of any sport they may love. Running is a great sport and activity, and our mission is to make people aware of the importance of not only running, but also being physically active,” added Holdridge.
This event also supports scholarships for prospective runners and high school summer running camps for students. “All of the money we raise goes to local school scholarships. We usually send 14 or more students a year to school for running.” Nate the Great also helps support Canastota High School’s running program.
Nate the Great kicks off at 8:30 a.m. on North Main Street, Canastota. Race fee is $20 for preregistration, and $25 on the day of the race. For more information, visit fleetfeetsyracuse.com.
Paige’s Butterfly Run starts at the Federal Building, 100 S. Clinton St. The 5K begins at 9 a.m., the caterpillar crawl starts at 9:45 a.m., and the 3K kicks off at 10 a.m. Registration costs $25 for each of the 5k and 3k events, and the crawl is free. For more information, go to paigesbutterflyrun.org.