After a decade, Albion Running Club dissolves and hands off races

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 January 2021 at 12:13 pm

Organization donates $5,000 for walking/running trail at Bullard Park

Photos by Tom Rivers: Brian Krieger, executive director of the Albion Running Club, addresses about 120 participants during the Run for Wayne on March 23, 2019. That race and the Strawberry Festival 5K and 8K will now be managed by Wolfpack Multisport.

ALBION – A club that helped motivate people to take up running and also managed local races has dissolved after about a decade.

The Albion Running Club has handed off management of two local races – the Run for Wayne in March and Strawberry Festival 5K and 8K – to Wolfpack Multisport, led by Bert Gallmon. He is planning for the races to continue in-person this year. If that isn’t possible due to Covid, Gallmon said they could be held virtually, with people running the distances on their own and not in a group race.

“We felt it was a good time for new blood to take over the events and grow them,” said Brian Krieger, the Running Club president and chief executive officer.

Before the Running Club closed out its financial books, it wrote a check for $5,000 to the Village of Albion towards a walking/running trail along the perimeter of the park near Sandy Creek.

Brian Krieger and Lindon Morici (center), members of the Albion Running Club, last week presented the $5,000 check to Albion Mayor Eileen Banker for the running and walking trail at Bullard.

Krieger said the Running Club donated about $52,000 the past decade with donations to the Care Net Center of Greater Orleans, Community Kitchen, Albion Free Methodist Church Missions trip, Hospice, Holley Youth Center, Genesee-Orleans Ministry of Concern, Cornell Cooperative Extension in Orleans County, Re-Build Bullard Park, Wayne Burlison Scholarship and several fundraisers for community members.

He thanked many local businesses and sponsors for supporting the events, and the many volunteers who stepped up to on race days or in other ways.

File photos – Sheila Lemcke of Albion was The Strawberry in the 2014 race.

The Running Club also secured grants to buy sneakers for about 100 people and run a “Fit in 50” program with weekly gatherings to exercise and promote healthy living.

The club organized Run for God, a 12-week program that was like a Couch to 5K training plan, taking people who haven’t been running to completing a 5K. About 400 people did the Run for God in seven years. The program includes a spiritual aspect with lessons from the Bible.

“We sparked a bit of a running revolution in Albion from people of all walks of life,” Krieger said. “It’s been an incredible experience.”

The Club formed initially to manage the Strawberry Festival race after Judy Christopher stepped down after leading that event for 19 years. He pushed to make the race a fun event. Krieger would find someone each year to wear a Strawberry costume. Runners get a special prize if they beat “The Strawberry.”

That 5K/8K was one of the biggest road races in the rural GLOW counties, attracting 200 to 300 runners.

Krieger urged people to take the first step in getting active and healthy. He is hopeful some of the Run for God participants will help keep that program going, or set up weekly times for people to run together.

Krieger led the initial Run for God groups with his friend, Wayne Burlison, an Albion elementary music teacher. They organized the Run for God with it usually starting in early March and culminating with people completing the 5K course at the Strawberry Fest the second Saturday in June.

Burlison was also friends with Gallmon, the new race organizer, through their participation together with The Patriots, a drum corps band.

Burlison was diagnosed with colon cancer in December 2013 and he passed away at age 36 on was 36 on March 26, 2014.

The “Run for Wayne” honors his memory. The race has been modified to be the Wayne Burlison Colon Cancer Awareness 5K. This year race is planned for March 27. Gallmon would like to do the in-person race as a group. It had 120 participants in March 2019. Last year’s race was cancelled due to Covid.

These Run for God participants pose for a group picture before the 2013 Strawberry Festival race.

The race could also be virtual only or perhaps be limited to 50 people with others going virtual. Gallmon also said race organizers this year may be looking to have runners go in waves on race day, to spread them out.

“It is a little stressful not knowing,” he said. “I still want to do a live event.”

The Burlison race starts on Clarendon Road near the elementary school and goes to Mount Albion Cemetery and back.

Gallmon runs other events through Wolfpack Multisport, including a triathlon at Silver Lake in Wyoming County. He would like to bring a triathlon to Orleans County in the future.

He praised Krieger and the Running Club for putting on two popular races with the Wayne Burlison Colon Cancer Awareness 5K and the Strawberry Festival 5K/8K.

“With the Wayne race we are honoring his memory and highlighting colon cancer, which is a real problem,” Gallmon said.

Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

Gallmon will be looking to have race committees help with the events in Albion and Orleans County.

For more information on Wolfpack Multisports, click here.

Editor’s Note: Orleans Hub editor Tom Rivers was a member of the Running Club’s board of directors.