LACONA, NY – The second annual Hot Cider Hustle warmed the hearts and stirred the bodies of residents of northern Oswego County on Sunday, November 7, 2021.
Activity enthusiasts of all ages gathered for an untimed five kilometer walk/run followed by live music from Steven McLean and a collection of health and fitness vendors offering their varied services at the Lacona Cable Trail VFW Post. All proceeds were donated to the Lacona Volunteer Fire Department.
The festive event is the brainchild of Lacona resident and group fitness instructor Brittnea Bryden, who was inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shutdown of social and sporting events.
“Because of COVID, I felt this was something the community needed,” Bryden said.
Bryden felt that an outdoor race that allowed participants to choose whether or not to wear a mask was a safe alternative to indoor social or sports activities.
“It was just something to bring the community together, to give them something to look forward to, and for people to not be afraid of each other,” she said.
Bryden said that since people were really feeling the stress of sheltering in place, she wanted to combine the benefits of fitness and community building in what would hopefully become an annual event.
“I had so many requests to do it again, even though I had no real intention of doing it again, everyone seemed to want more,” Bryden said.
Bryden noted that one of the most important elements to the success of last year’s event was the support of the local Lacona Fire Department.
“Having people at corners and intersections to help guide runners and keep them safe has been instrumental, as well as the route map I created helped reduce confusion for people who didn’t know not the area,” she said.
Having an emergency medical technician on site for the event was also a high priority.
“It brings me so much joy to see people having fun together and doing things they didn’t think they could,” Bryden said. “A 5k isn’t easy, and not everyone can walk or run that distance, so to see people have a goal and then work towards it, or to see people take their kids out and set a good example of incorporating fitness into their lifestyle… It’s really a win-win on every level.
Attendees were greeted with sunny skies and temperatures in the 40s, perfect weather for a fall event. After a registration period in the VFW building, the horn sounded at 10 a.m. and the enthusiastic group began their tour through the quiet streets of the village.
The first to complete the untimed race was Jonathan Neuschwander of Watertown, New York, who after crossing the line returned to the course and joined his wife, Elena Alteri, so they could enjoy the race together.
“It’s a great way for us to get out and exercise together,” Alteri said.
“It’s pretty cool that they have this, and it’s a beautiful morning,” he said.
The first young participant to finish was 11-year-old Giuliana Gianotti.
“It was cool because it’s the first race I’ve done alone,” said Gianotti.
The young athlete rounded the final bend of the course and knew she had put in an excellent performance.
“I saw my mum and my sister cheering me on and it made me feel good,” Gianotti said.