Saturday, August 27, 2016

Local Saturday - Chris Thater

The last weekend of August is one of racing from event to event here in the Binghamton, New York area.

For years we have celebrated the life of the late Chris Thater.  In 2010, I blogged:

"In 1983 a student by the name of Chris Thater, while cycling, was killed by a drunk driver near Harpursville, NY.

His friends would not let that senseless death rest.  Rather, they have turned it into one heck of a memorial.  The Chris Thater Memorial.  A two day bicycle race held in a residential neighborhood in Binghamton bordering Binghamton's Recreation Park, made somewhat famous by several episodes of the Twilight Zone.  (Rod Serling grew up nearby and spent a lot of time in that park), it celebrates "Stop DWI" and brings bicyclists from all over the world to our small city."

Alas, it is no longer held near Recreation Park, but rather, in downtown Binghamton.


It can still be an inspirational sight.  This video, created by a local video firm, uses a song I love as background music.   If you've ever wondered what the downtown where I work five days a week looks like, you need look no further than this video.

But I so miss where it used to be, in a residential neighborhood where the late, great Rod Serling grew up.  Life changes.  Events change.  But a small part of me holds out hope that, one day, the event will return to the West Side of Binghamton.

In 2012, my spouse (in a way) won the last race of the event.  Today, in honor of the event, I repeat part of my post of April, 2016:

Normally, on my blog, Saturday is devoted to "Local Saturday".  Today, I want to take you to a bicycle race that takes place in the small upstate New York city of Binghamton, New York every August.

My spouse won it one year - sort of.  But, before I tell that story, a little about the race.

It is called the Chris Thater Memorial Race.  This year it will be held August 27 and 28, once again in honor of Chris Thater, a 23 year old cyclist who was struck and killed by a drunk driver in 1983.  It's a series of races - bicycle races, a 5K run, a fun race for kids.

The event has been held for over 30 years now. It's a wonderful way to honor the memory of a young man taken from us too soon.

For the first 25 years, it was held in a beautiful West Side neighborhood near Binghamton's Recreation Park, near where Rod Serling of Twilight Zone fame grew up.


The racing course was so beautiful and green (and hot).

The races were held during the day, and there was plenty of room to park, walk around and enjoy the races. For several years, there were live rock performances by local bands.  You could even get close up to the racers, as they prepared to race.  Some were amateur (I know one of them at her day job), some from this area, some were professionals from all over the world.

Here, one of the racers describes her experience in 2012, when these pictures were also taken.

We would walk along the race course, and finally take our places near the finish line for the last race, the money race with the professional racers.
And then someone would cross the finish line.

And with that, it's time for the story of how my spouse (sort of) won the 2012 Chris Thater.

Several minutes before the final race ended, one of the announcers would poll the crowd, asking who they thought would win the race.  In 2012, my husband named someone.

And he won!
What did he win?  A chance to meet the winner, here (spouse is on the right) as I stood by, thrilled.  One of his 15 minutes (well, more like five minutes) of fame.

In our house hangs his other prize - a poster, signed by the winner.

Alas, in 2014, the race was changed - moved to downtown Binghamton, the races reconfigured, a Cross Fit challenge added, the music and greenery deleted.    A new generation of race goers will treasure their own memories.

But I will always remember the year my husband, by a lucky guess, won a bicycle race.

7 comments:

  1. I'll be visiting your neck of the woods ( well NJ is not exactly in your neighbourhood) soon and am a bit apprehensive of living in suburbia after the hustle and bustle and chaos of Mumbai. Your short video cheered me up .

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  2. I think such events can be very empowering to keep someone alive. Awesome that your husband won hearts.

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  3. You husband should try his luck at lottery ... you never know what he might win :D I have always wanted to be a part of a race... be it cycle or marathon. But never got to do one.

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  4. I've not heard of this kind of memorial before. Interesting idea and sounds like it's a good thing on many levels.
    Carol

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  5. Sounds like a great event. At least it's still held. Even if it had to move.

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  6. I wish we had more events like that in my area. We see bike riders go through the city every year. It has something to do with the collage. I am hoping they do it again this year.

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  7. Some things ought not change...but then change is the only true thing in life....May be the venue has changed but not the spirit....Congrats to your hubby too on winning.....!

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