SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Firecracker 4 road race returns to the streets of Saratoga today after being held virtually in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and organizers hope to attract the thousands of runners it had pre-pandemic.
The 15th annual, four-mile race will step off at 9 a.m. beginning and ending at the Saratoga Springs City Center on Broadway. In between, it will run through historic neighborhoods on the city’s east side, said race director Peter Goutos.
While the race has drawn as many as 3,400 runners in the past, last year’s virtual race drew only 700 registrants. Organizers hope for a return to something like the numbers seen in the past.
“We are pleased to bring back the Firecracker 4 Road Race to what we hope will be 3,000 runners,” Goutos said. “We are excited about the enthusiasm, patriotism, and hospitality that this race brings. We look forward to welcoming guests back to our incredible community!”
Goutos said the race was organized in a matter of weeks rather than planned over many months because it wasn’t clear if the race could be held until the state’s COVID restrictions were lifted late last month.
While government-mandated COVID restrictions have been lifted, Goutos said there will be a few changes: Runners are being asked to bring their own beverage, though water will be available on the course. Runners, who are being individually timed, are being asked to spread out to the extent they’re comfortable.
The run in the past has attracted participants from nearly every state as well as countries including India, Germany, Ecuador and Hong Kong, organizers said.
Goutos said the run is USA Track and Field Association certified, with prize money offered, which draws some competitive runners. “It’s a unique distance, and runners like it,” he said. “Runners can gauge themselves mile by mile to see how they’re doing. Distance running is all about consistency.”
Proceeds from the Firecracker 4 benefit local non-profits and causes that support healthy lifestyles in Saratoga County. Past recipients have included organizations like the Saratoga YMCA, high school running clubs, and the Pitney Meadows Community Farm Trails Program. Over 15 years, Goutos said $350,000 has been donated through the race.