Beth Guidice holds a sign in support of the athletes competing during the Susquehanna River Running Festival on Saturday, Sept. 15.
Beth Guidice holds a sign in support of the athletes competing during the Susquehanna River Running Festival on Saturday, Sept. 15. (Brian Krista / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

More than 1,000 runners will hit the streets of Havre de Grace and Perryville in eight days for the second Susquehanna River Running Festival next weekend.

Race organizers expect about 1,200 people for race day, Saturday, Sept. 28. About 60 percent of the runners registered to date are signed up for the half marathon, while the rest will run the half marathon relay, 5K and, new this year, the 10K, Dominic Corson said.

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“For Harford residents, this is a first-class event right in their backyard,” he said. “To me, this is a great race. It’s a beautiful course.”

The race will necessitate closure of one side of the Hatem Bridge, as well as other streets around Havre de Grace and Perryville. Traffic headed west on Route 40 over the Susquehanna will be detoured to Interstate 95 beginning at 7 a.m. Sept. 28, and traffic headed east on Route 40 will use the westbound lanes.

Besides the runners, the race and running festival draw thousands of spectators to Havre de Grace and to Harford County.

Registration will continue through race day. Proceeds from the event benefit the Al Cesky Scholarship Fund, which awards $54,000 a year to student-athletes in Harford County. A male and female student from each high school, public and private, are awarded $2,000 scholarships. Of those, one male and one female athlete are selected to each win a $5,000 scholarship.

Runner take off down Union Avenue in Havre de Grace for the start of the half marathon during the Susquehanna River Running Festival on Saturday, Sept. 15.
Runner take off down Union Avenue in Havre de Grace for the start of the half marathon during the Susquehanna River Running Festival on Saturday, Sept. 15. (Brian Krista / Baltimore Sun Media Group)

The race broke even last year, which organizers expected. There may be a small profit this year, Corson said, but next year, which has already been set for Sept. 26, should be when it really takes off.

“The first goal was just to establish a first-class running event and make it runner-friendly for people to come back,” he said.

The festival is a special one, Corson said.

“There are lots of races out there, but almost none of them cross a major bridge. That makes it a special event in and of itself,” Corson said.

Because of the threat, the typical registration surge the week leading up to a race never materialized, Corson said.

The weather this year, more than a week before the race, is predicted to be sunny with temperatures in the low 80s.

“We are having a final push,” Corson said. “We expect to be right around where we were last year.”

The half-marathon and half-marathon relay, sponsored by University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health, will start at 8 a.m. from Union Avenue and Commerce Street in Havre de Grace.

The 5K, sponsored by APG Federal Credit Union, will begin from the same place at about 8:10 a.m.

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The Al Cesky Scholarship Fund 10K was added this year, and has drawn more runners than the half-marathon relay, Corson said. It will start from the Perry Point VA Medical Center at about 8:35 a.m., once the first half-marathon runners have passed.

“The beauty of the 10K is that you still run along the water at the VA, and you get to cross the bridge,” he said. “You get most of the benefit of the half without having to run a half.”

The running festival will also include better premiums and medals this year as well as an after-party with food provided by MacGregors and music from locals Dennis Schocket and Jamie Bishop.

For more information on the running festival, visit www.susquehannarunfest.org.

Billy Boniface, wearing bib 2, is joined by other runners as they start up the Hatem Bridge towards Perryville during the Susquehanna River Running Festival on Saturday, Sept. 15.
Billy Boniface, wearing bib 2, is joined by other runners as they start up the Hatem Bridge towards Perryville during the Susquehanna River Running Festival on Saturday, Sept. 15. (Brian Krista / Baltimore Sun Media Group)
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