That’s what Brian Collins felt when he would travel back home to Syracuse in regards to a marathon and half marathon destination point for running die-hards in Central New York.
“The year 2010,” Collins said, “was the best year ever in terms of growth for marathons and half marathons in the last 30 years. This place is exceptional in terms of per capita, the amount of people that like to run.”
Collins, a Cicero native and a runner himself, decided to put his four-year plan into action and thus, creating the Empire State Marathon slated for Oct. 16. The event will host approximately 2,000 people from 29 different states.
“I started to do an analysis on what is the sweet spot in terms of foliage and it happened to be mid-October,” Collins said. “It also happened to be the most popular time nationwide and internationally to run a marathon.”
We have everything going for us, Collins said, it would sell well; I picked a name that would spark people’s attention, the course could be beautiful and we could pull from the best resources of the local market here including clubs and businesses.
Running has long been a part of Collins’ lifeline, participating in 27 marathons, three Iron Mans and qualifying for the Boston Marathon three times. However, it’s his brother that has him left in a cloud of dust.
“It’s not even close to fair that my brother is so fast because I run in three-times more events than him,” Collins said. “He still kicks my butt. I hate it. I just don’t run as fast as him.”
The two siblings growing up took different paths when it came to the sport, his brother devoted every minute to becoming an elite runner while Collins wanted to experience everything and anything that presented itself in life.
When Collins isn’t in Syracuse, he splits time in Phoenix, Ariz., where he specializes in event consultation and support. His business actually started at the grassroots level when it came to training runners. When he made the move from Upstate to the west coast, he took notice of the beautiful weather and got back into the “running spirit.” Phoenix, at the time, was booming, a population of half a million inhibited one of the biggest cities in the country. There was one problem Collins said, not a marathon competition in sight.
“The first two years I was in Phoenix,” Collins said, “there was no marathon. I started to gather resources, had some partners in the business and said, ‘We need to start something here in Phoenix.’ That’s how I got in the business.”
The Empire State Marathon is also teaming up with two local charities, The Ronald McDonald House and Team Red, White and Blue.
The Ronald McDonald House Charities of CNY has been named the official charity of the Empire State Marathon. The Ronald McDonald House is a “home away from home” for families whose children are hospitalized with serious illness or injuries.
“We have between 50-60 people that will be acting as fundraisers,” Development Director Jennifer Saraceni Leitgeb said, “What we are really trying to do, since we are the charity of the event, is we really want to have a presence. Each of the runners raising money for us will have a special shirt to wear as they pass through as a Ronald McDonald team member. All the money raised is all designated to the new Ronald McDonald House we are building.”
To date, the generosity of so many donors throughout the surrounding counties that the Ronald McDonald House serves has helped them raise $5.3 million. Their goal of $6 million is in its sights and people looking to donate or participate in the Empire State Marathon,
Team Red, White and Blue was founded by Mike Erwin, a 1998 CBA graduate and West Point graduate who served three tours in Iraq and Afgranistan. The charity is a veteran support organization whose mission is to enrich the lives of wounded veterans and their families.
“Team RWB is different from other charities for a couple reasons,” Team RWB athlete Christina Quijano said, “ the first is that they do their primary fundraising through endurance events— 5k, 10k, half and full marathons and ultra marathons— and second, is their Advocate Program. This year we are opening the Syracuse chapter of the Team RWB Advocate program. The program is about setting up wounded veterans with civilians in their community, and simply being a friend, a companion, someone to go for a jog with, or to a Syracuse University basketball game. Anything to help that wounded veteran feel connected with our community again.”
If interested in becoming a Team RWB athlete or want to participate in the advocate program visit its website at teamrwb.org.
For more information on the Oct. 16 Empire State Marathon visit empirestatemarathon.com, call 403-8268.