Anna Hertlein ’12 was recently featured in the Finger Lakes Times in the segment called, “Conversations.” Hertlein is one of the organizers of the Seneca7 race and the interview focused on the features of this year’s event, the second annual.
“The race almost doubled this year. We capped it at 150 teams (of seven people each). That was our goal. We think that is the amount of people we can host comfortably this year and hopefully make some improvements to make the race friendlier to new runners, to returning runners, to folks who want to bike as well. It’s going to be quite a turnout in Geneva,” Hertlein said.
Hertlein is an environmental studies major and member of the Herons cross-country team.
The full transcript of her interview with the Finger Lakes Times follows.
Finger Lakes Times
A Conversation With: Anna Hertlein
April 9, 2012
FLT: We heard today (March 30) that the Seneca7 sold out. Can you tell us the number of participants and what you and your co-organizers’ feelings are on why you were able to achieve that?
HERTLEIN: The race almost doubled this year. We capped it at 150 teams (of seven people each). That was our goal. We think that is the amount of people we can host comfortably this year and hopefully make some improvements to make the race friendlier to new runners, to returning runners, to folks who want to bike as well. It’s going to be quite a turnout in Geneva.
FLT: Where are the teams coming from, mostly?
HERTLEIN: On the website (www.seneca7.com) there is a participant map, and we track where the teams are coming from. Seven states are represented – mostly from the Northeast, as far south as Maryland, New Hampshire, mostly New York. Most of the teams are coming from Central New York and the Finger Lakes region. Lots of local support, too.
FLT: You talked about some changes. Can you tell us about some?
HERTLEIN: First, there will be a staggered start. We hope to make the staggered start more comfortable for the race course itself, so people are finishing around the same time. Last year, when we started all at once, runners were finishing in a very large time span, anywhere from five hours’ difference. Having more runners finishing around the same time will create a stronger, more celebratory atmosphere. … We’ll send the slower teams out first and the faster teams progressively after them.
FLT: What other things besides the staggered start are different this year?
HERTLEIN: Friday night before the race starts, if teams are coming in from out of state or out of the region, we’re going to have a prerace briefing to go over what the day will be like on Saturday.
We’re also going to have a “trail mixer” where teams will be able to make their own custom-made trail mix. We’re going to have a lip-synch contest to start forming the little friendships and rivalries among teams. Local teams are welcome to attend as well … We also have new sponsors – a lot of the same local sponsors, Red Jacket Orchards, Once Again Nut Butter – but this year we have some new names. Chobani is helping us out with some yogurt donations; Nalgene, the water bottle company; a brand called Atayne, a recycled clothing manufacturer out of Maine; as is WoolSports, which has helped out with Musselman. Lots of new fun things for the participants in the goody bags.
Then Sunday we have a cool-down event if teams need to spend an overnight … and, if they happen to be triathletes, [Seneca7] director Jeff Henderson is going to offer to bike around the Musselman race course. It will be a great preview for runners who might be interested in running a triathlon … if anyone still has the energy (laughs).
FLT: How did you get involved last year? Can you explain the student involvement in this race? Is it a class?
HERTLEIN: It’s an extracurricular like a club. Last year Jeff Henderson, who is the race director, was a leader in residence through the Colleges’ Centennial Center for Leadership, so he was recruiting students to work alongside him and Professor Jackie Augustine, another race director. There was an information meeting, and I remember sitting there thinking, who on earth is going to run around the lake, and who would want to do that?’ But, sure enough, I signed up to be on the organizing committee and then fielded a team myself.
FLT: So you ran it last year?
HERTLEIN: I ran it last year. It was one of the best days I’ve had in Geneva or in the Finger Lakes, but I do remember sitting there thinking, this is crazy, no one is going to do this … It was great to not only see how a race is planned, but then participate in it and also notice where we had room for improvement.
FLT: For people who aren’t familiar with this race – it’s only 2 years old- what’s the significance of the number seven?
HERTLEIN: We call it the Seneca7 because running around the lake is 77.7 miles and we have teams of seven people running it. It’s broken up into 21 different legs; that way, the runners aren’t running 11 miles straight, which makes it a lot more attainable for athletes who can’t run a halfmarathon. You do get a little break in between, but it’s still a very arduous day. Getting in and out of Watkins Glen is not easy, especially coming out on the east side; there’s a massive
FLT: Who do the proceeds benefit?
HERTLEIN: The Geneva Fund, so it will stay in the community.
FLT: What do you think has made the race so successful and popular in such a short period of time?
HERTLEIN: Because it’s a relay. It’s very collaborative. I had so much fun – I’ve done lots of other races – but I had so much fun running with the team and getting through it with other people. I’ve really encouraged all my other friends who are runners to consider signing up. As we were running the race last year we got to know other teams who were the same pace as us as the race progressed, so it became a friendly, competitive atmosphere. Also, obviously, just the beauty of the area. Last year happened to be a very sunny, gorgeous day, so everybody was in great mood.
FLT: How many students are part of the organizing committee and what do you as a student get out of it?
HERTLEIN: The student organizing committee has about 10 or so students, so it’s not very big. Each student has a different role. I do the sustainability for the race, so I’m in charge of the trash and recycling and composting. As an environmental studies major that’s obviously very important to me because a lot of mass participation sports just create a lot of trash, so each student does bring in his or her own passion or academic interest. One of the committee members is a writing and rhetoric major; she’s had internships at publishing firms so she’s been very active and influential in trying to get us to reach out to more print sources and blogs and social media because that’s her forte.
As a student I’ve enjoyed it because of the responsibility and accountability I have. It’s a lot different than another club on campus where if something doesn’t get done we can wait until next week. Come April 28 we’re going to have 150 teams of seven people coming to Geneva, so when I’m given a task it has to get done.
FLT: Do you have any concerns or fears?
HERTLEIN: The weather is always an unknown …running weather is a little cooler, so we’re hoping it’s not one of those days in the 80s like it was [recently].
FLT: How many teams are biking the legs they are not running?
HERTLEIN: I think about a dozen teams have signed up as bikers. When they aren’t running, teams will usually take a car to the next transition point, but the teams that are biking, we’re hoping to give them extra support this year by having bike stations if they need help on the course.
We were very surprised and impressed by the teams that turned out last year with bikes. They were incredible athletes.
FLT: Jeff Henderson seems like he has his pulse on the running and endurance world. What are your impressions of him? Do you find you’ve learned as much from him as any of your professors?
HERTLEIN: Absolutely. Jeff has been a great support to all the students and really encouraged us to take any ideas we have and run with them … he puts us in contact with the folks we need to know. I’ve definitely learned a lot about how to organize people and how to get people excited and how to have this really big idea and how to make it happen.
FLT: Are there non-athletes on the committee?
HERTLEIN: There are some folks who just showed up. Again, because we advertised it as a creative experiment, a work in progress, we have friends on the committee who have never run a race in their life but have some interest in other things – be it planning the postrace party or helping organize the awards – but, at the same time, we’ve also encouraged some of these students to consider running, and several of the committee members did end up forming teams out of pure curiosity and inspiration for them. We do try and reach out for volunteers, reaching out to the fraternities on campus and the other clubs who might not want to run or have any ambition to run but have some interest in helping, especially with the postrace lake fest.
FLT: Do you need more volunteers?
HERTLEIN: Oh, we always need more volunteers. If anyone is interested in volunteering, on our website (www.seneca7.com) there’s a link under one of the main tabs that says “volunteer.”
– Transcribed by
Susan Clark Porter
WILLIAM SMITH COLLEGE STUDENT, CLASS OF 2012
Alan Brignall photos / Finger Lakes Times
Majors: Public policy and environmental studies
Extracurricular: Runs on Herons’ cross-country team, member of Seneca7 organizing committee
What is the Seneca7?: A relay race around Seneca Lake planned for April 28