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Wellsville’s RidgeWalk and Run hitting the trail again in 2022

File photo

RidgeWalk and Run participants enjoy the outdoors at one of the area’s premier fall events.


By KATHRYN ROSS

WELLSVILLE — Good news for lovers of the outdoors and fall colors — it looks like the annual RidgeWalk and Run will be back on the trail this year.

Organizer Jim Helms said the event, which draws runners and walkers from throughout Western New York and beyond in mid-October, will be live this year after two years of virtual runs and walks due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The event was first organized by Rich Shear and friends in 1993 when Shear, a long-distance cross-country runner and local businessman decided he wanted to introduce more people to the joys of the outdoors through running and hiking. A group of volunteers groomed trails in and around the Shear farm on Alma Hill with the help of adjacent landowners.

Over the years the project grew into a one-day event that annually attracted more than 1,000 participants to run and walk and, at one time, bicycle the trails. Participants came from across the state and nation and even Canada and became one of the premier autumn events in the Twin Tiers.

The Chamber of Commerce offered its expertise and Jones Memorial Hospital sponsored an event tent where participants and onlookers could eat Texas Hots, get massages, and learn about businesses and organizations and health-related activities. Wagon rides and wildlife rehabilitators and live music turned the event into an outdoor festival.

A pre-race dinner for participants and the community brought well-known outdoor writers and runners to the community to share their stories. In 2014 the event was taken over by the hospital, becoming one of the leading components of the hospital’s community-wellness programs.

While Helms headed up the event for several years, he is now the CEO of UR/Jones Memorial Hospital, and although he is also an avid runner, organizing RidgeWalk and Run is a time-consuming process. He said that he is in the process of looking for a chairman to take over the event.

“I have a co-chair in place, but I really need a chairman,” he said. “Once I have more information, I will be releasing it.”

He added that he is also looking for more volunteers to get the event back on the trail.