“UB runs every year, not just because it’s become a tradition, but because we care.”
Dennis Black, vice president
University Life and Services
Edna Hyer remembers the day her life could have ended.
An avid runner, Hyer was driving near UB with plans to run on the Amherst bike path. It was the same day in September 1990 that UB student Linda Yalem was tragically raped and murdered on that same path.
Now 80 years old, Hyer has run more than 1,800 races — 55 this year alone.
But the Linda Yalem Safety Run — founded in Yalem’s memory — is among the most meaningful to her. Hyer has run the course 23 times, only missing one race because she was out of town.
And she is registered to run the course again this year, the 25th anniversary of the race.
“UB runs every year, not just because it’s become a tradition, but because we care,” says Dennis Black, one of three race founders and vice president for university life and services. “We care about each other and about safety for all.”
More than 1,200 walkers and runners, and more than 600 volunteers are expected to participate in the annual run, set to begin at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 28 on the North Campus.
A 5K USA Track and Field-certified course, the run remains one of the most popular races in Western New York.
The race’s registration fees support rape-prevention programming and personal safety awareness at UB. Some of the programs include the University Police Aide Escort Program, women’s safety and sexual assault prevention programs, and counseling groups.
Hyer is among a handful of runners who have run the race for more than 20 years. Another is Sid Bolton, who will run the course for the 21st time this Sunday.
Bolton first ran the race in its second year after reading about it in the local news. After that day, he was hooked, recalling how the atmosphere outside of Alumni Arena was “electric.”
Now, Bolton has so many Linda Yalem Safety Run T-shirts he considers patching them together to make a quilt.
But for Bolton, the morning of the 18th race was the most significant. That was the year the man responsible for Yalem’s killing was captured. To honor the law enforcement agencies involved in apprehending the criminal, the university named those organizations honorary starters for the run. Representatives of these agencies were allowed to speak to the crowd before the race.
“There were 1,500 runners there and you could have heard a pin drop that day,” says Bolton. “They had everybody’s undivided attention. We all have daughters, wives and sisters, so it was a big deal to finally get this guy.”
The Linda Yalem Safety Run began as a joint effort between UB Athletics and Student Affairs. This year, the race is sponsored by University Life and Services, the University Bookstore, Campus Dining, and Shops, and iDesign Ideas.
Post-race events will include food, entertainment and a kids’ dash.
Prizes will be awarded to the overall male and female finishers, as well as the top three male and female finishers in 15 different five-year age categories. There also will be prizes for a wheelchair category. Separate prizes will be awarded for UB finishers in three categories: faculty and staff, students and alumni.
The fee to participate is $25 for the general public and $20 for UB students. For $35, registrants also receive up to four UB football tickets to the homecoming game on Sept. 27, the day before the race.
For more information or to register online, visit the Linda Yalem Safety Run website.
By Marcene Robinson