The town of Geneva has never had its own half marathon, so Keuka College alumnus Eric Heieck created one. Eric, a member of the Class of 2012, frequently runs in and around his hometown, and says creating the race—a distance of 13.1 miles—has been something he’s thought about for five years.
“My inspiration is simple,” says Eric, who earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice systems through the College’s Adult and Online Education program. “I love the area, and my wife and I want to give back as much as we can to our community.”
The inaugural Geneva Half Marathon is slated for Sunday, Aug. 25, and starts and ends on the shore of Seneca Lake in Geneva. A certified USA Track & Field Half Marathon, race time begins at 8 a.m. USATF course certification ensures the course distance has been accurately measured. Those interested can choose to run individually or as part of a two-person relay team.
Eric relied on his Keuka College education in helping create the Geneva Half Marathon.
“Keuka College refined my priorities on work/life balance, and taught me that both education and the contacts you make while in college are important on many different levels,” he says. “I made lifelong friends from my cohort, both personally and professionally. I am relying on a couple of them—including an instructor—in the help and supervision of this race.”
Eric has also had help from his wife and children.
“My wife, Sarah, and I have involved our 14-year-old and 12-year-old in every aspect of this race, from the creation of a business, to web design, to designing the course,” says Eric. “We hope to teach them that when something doesn’t exist and you are truly passionate about it, creating anything is possible.”
Anything, including fulfilling a goal to earn a bachelor’s degree.
“As I went into the military right out of high school, I never had the college experience,” says Eric,who served with the Geneva Police Department. “I attended Keuka College as an adult, working full time as a police detective with two small kids. I was a career police officer, and wanted my bachelor’s degree prior to retiring. It was always a goal, and Keuka College made it possible.”
Eric adds that earning his degree was truly an achievement, and having his family with him every step of the way meant a great deal to him.
“One of the best investments in my life and has paid off,” says Eric, who now works at the Bank of the Finger Lakes. “I am proud to be a graduate of Keuka College. Keuka College provided me a sound education and a confidence that was the impetus to create this race.”
And come race day, Eric and his co-creators want the runners to feel the allure of the Geneva area.
He’s looking forward to seeing that first competitor crossing the finish line, “knowing in your heart you created a race from nothing.”
“Our tag line is Eat.Sleep.Run.Geneva,” says Eric. Each of is lucky to be in such a beautiful and up-and-coming area. We want them to experience the area, and visit our wineries, breweries and restaurants. We hope they look at our lake, our homes, and our people, and say ‘Geneva, the Finger Lakes … that’s for me.’”
Eric says there are more than 200 entrants thus far. People from 13 states—and from as far away as Seattle Wash., and Calgary, Canada—have registered for the race. Proceeds from the half marathon will be split between the Geneva YMCA and the Geneva Boys & Girls Club.
For more information on the race, or to register, visit www.genevahalfmarathon.com. The registration deadline is Saturday, Aug. 10. For members of the Keuka College family interested in participating, Eric created a special $10-off code. Just use the code success.