Elk County Striders holding 5K July 11

Staff Writer

The Elk County Classic will have a name change this year. The Ridgway race sponsored by the Elk County Striders has become the BZ Classic 5k. Registration remains open for the run which has been named in honor of Ben Zappa one of the organizers of the Striders in 1983.
Runners can register for the 5k up until 11:59 p.m. on June 28. According to the race’s website, there was room for 57 more runners as of yesterday. Those who want to compete will find a registration form and more information on the website – runsignup.com/Race/PA/Ridgway/BZClassic5K. There is a fee to register. There is no registration on the day of the race. Parents and guardians can register runners under 18. Awards are given to the top three finishers in each female and male age group which include overall, 14-and-under, 15-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, and 60-and-over. Runners will receive a race shirt. The 5k runs along the Clarion-Little Toby rail-trail in Ridgway.
According to Jason Lang of the Striders Zappa was hesitant to agree to the race’s name change in his honor but the group convinced him. “We told him that there would definitely be a race once he ‘went to heaven’, so he might as well let us have the race now so he could at least be a part of it,” Lang said adding a laugh in his text message. Zappa of Ridgway was the original vice-president of the Elk County organization. According to the Striders website Jim Distler of St. Marys had the idea to start the running club. He recruited runners through area radio stations and newspapers and is responsible for the group’s name. Distler was the first president, Gordie Ford of Johnsonburg the original treasurer, and Cheryl Pistner of St. Marys the first secretary. The Striders are dedicated to promoting the healthful aspects of running, jogging, and walking. Most members are from the area but there are others from Ohio, New York, Alaska, California, North Carolina, Illinois, and Texas.
Due to COVID-19 changes have been made for the event. There will be no water stations, no post-race food, and no post-race awards ceremony. Awards will be mailed at a later date. Runners do not need to wear a mask. Volunteers will do so where appropriate. The race packets will contain bibs, pins, timing chips, and t-shirt. Depending on the number of runners, participants will be sent out in waves. The chips are disposable and will not need to be turned in. Water bottles will be available to take after the race. “We know that some people may not be comfortable being out in small crowds yet, but we are doing everything possible to mitigate COVID-19. We appreciate everyone's patience as we try to provide a fun event in these challenging times,” reads a statement on the race’s website.
The July 11, 5k is part of the 2020 Elk County Striders Triple Crown race series. Also included are the Dehoga Dash 5K which has been rescheduled for July 26 and the Lee Foster Memorial 5k set for Aug. 8. The BZ Classic 5k will begin at 9 a.m