Road race, party will affect traffic

WESTFIELD – Runners in the city have a number of opportunities to stretch their legs in races on the city’s roads and many will find themselves running amongst a host of visitors Saturday when they participate in the city’s newest road race, Run Westfield.
The five kilometer road race is the brainchild of Westfield resident Michael Tierney who has long been a mainstay of the St. Patrick’s Road Race in Holyoke.
“It all started with an idea,” Tierney said, to organize a “world class running event” in the city where he grew up.
Tierney has found support for his vision from the city and city institutions.  They will contribute to the success of the block party to be staged in the middle of Elm Street, which will be closed for the event.
Many downtown restaurants and other local eateries will offer a variety of food under a tent in the middle of Elm Street, as well as vendor booths in the roadway. Beer and other beverages will be offered in the tent by the Rotary Club of Westfield.
Police Capt. Michael McCabe said that the city’s auxiliary officers will be on hand for traffic and crowd control duties.
He said that the city will provide more police services for the Run Westfield race than for the recent half marathon staged by the Boys and Girls Club or the upcoming Run for a Noble Cause five kilometer road race to benefit Noble Hospital because “the thrust is different.”
“There is a real community service to this race,” he said, because it is expected to bring thousands of people to the city’s downtown corridor that would not otherwise be there.
“We’re looking for a real economic benefit,” he said.
One of the auxiliary officers working at the event, Jay Torres, may have a special interest in the event since the beneficiary of the charitable arm of the inaugural race will be a fund in honor of his father, fallen Westfield police officer Jose Torres.
Tierney said that the inaugural event will benefit the Jose Torres fund and went on to say “our plans are to change the giving event each year.”
Tierney predicted that there will be “over 50 elite runners coming in from all over” for the race and  he expects there will be “in excess of two thousand” participants for the race, who will compete for a total of $29,000 in prize money.
“I wouldn’t be totally shocked if we had close to three thousand runners,” he said.
City police have created a traffic plan for the event, McCabe said, which includes the closure of Elm Street, between Franklin and School streets, for most of the day, with more limited restrictions to traffic on Court Street and Western Avenue.
Elm Street, where the race will finish and the party will be staged, will be closed to traffic at 9 a.m., although a parking prohibition on Elm Street will begin earlier, at 6 a.m.
Police plan to reopen Elm Street to traffic about 5 p.m. but point out that the actual time traffic will again be allowed to travel on the affected section of Elm Street will not be determined until the event concludes.
Western Avenue will be closed at 12:50 p.m., before the 1 p.m. start of the race at the Westfield State University south parking lot near Western Avenue, and remain closed until all the runners reach Court Street, about 1:30 p.m.
Court Street, from Western Avenue to Mill Street will also be closed, in both directions, at the same time.
During that time, all intersecting side streets will dead end at Western Avenue until that thoroughfare reopens to traffic.
The runners and walkers will travel on Western Avenue to Court Street, proceed to Broad Street, then on to Elm Street for the finish.

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