Tierney hoping race first in a long run

Run-Westfield race organizer Mike Tierney sits at his desk in front of several clips and posters celebrating the sport of running. Tierney is bringing a major competition to the Whip City in early 2013. (Photo by Chris Putz)

WESTFIELD – Westfield native Michael Tierney has been running daily for many years to maintain a healthy lifestyle. But now he has his sight set on running the best race of his life.
Tierney, 67, a longtime organizer of Holyoke’s St. Paddy’s Day race, broke off his ties to the aforementioned race to attempt to jumpstart a new tradition in the Whip City – “Run Westfield.”
On March 16, 2013, runners from Westfield, Southwick, the hill towns, and all throughout the Pioneer Valley, and northeast, for that matter, will have another race to choose from. One that offers a quicker, flatter course and a bigger prize purse.
“Run Westfield,” headed up by Tierney, will hold the first annual St. Paddy’s Flat Fast 5K road race.
“We want to give back to the elite runner who works hard at training and has a passion for running,” Tierney said. “We wanted to create a prize structure … for their level of dedication.”
Some $25,000 in cash prizes will be paid out to the top finishers in next year’s inaugural St. Paddy’s Day race in Westfield. Each male and female winner will receive $5,000.
While the race features a higher financial reward for the region’s top runners, Tierney also believes that limiting the hilly terrain will essentially raise the bar.
The 5K, or 3.1 mile, course will consist primarily of flat city roads.
“Runners want to break 15 minutes,” said Tierney. “We’re going to have a race.”
Preliminary course plans have runners beginning and ending in the center of town, traversing North Elm, Broad Street, Noble Avenue, West Silver, and Western Avenue.
The unique design of the course will allow for a bird’s eye view.
“As a spectator,” Tierney said, “you will actually be able to watch this race from one location and the see the runners three times. It will be a very exciting race to watch.”
“Run Westfield” is a by-product of Tierney’s 37 years affiliated with the Holyoke race, and the result of inspiration drawn from a popular 10K race in Puerto Rico, which the local runner and businessman participates in annually.
That race, according to Tierney, features nearly $100,000 in prize money, some 15,000 runners, and a prized vehicle, which is suspended by a crane over the finish line.
“That race receives great, great support,” said Tierney. “It’s electric, exciting. They focus on all the little things that make a race.”
Tierney said he plans on implementing some of the aspects of that race into the one in Westfield next March.
While race organizers anticipate the competition to be fierce, less competitive participants will also have the opportunity to walk in the race for charity. The first race will be held in honor of fallen officer Jose Torres.
“We’re giving back to the people that need it,” Tierney said. “It’s my home town. I was brought up here. I work here. And at the time of the rebirth of Westfield, it’s very, very exciting.”
Over the next several months, Tierney will work alongside part principal owner and race director, Bob Delisle, and other committee members – Brian Tierney, Kevin Matys, Greg Walsh, and John Greaney – to help hammer out the final details surrounding the event.
A block party atmosphere is expected to carry-over following the race with entertainment, food, and refreshments planned, according to Tierney.
“We’re off to a good start here,” Tierney said. “Giving back is where our heart is. Our whole committee feels like that too.”
Details surrounding the race will be unveiled in the coming months.

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