San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

September 18th, 2009
Run with Moe: How to keep a race alive

Run with Moe: A column
By MOE JOHNSON
San Marcos Runners Club

Last month, the Darndest Du Duathlon was held out at the Tanger Outlet Center. The event called for the athletes to run a 5K race, mount a bike and pedal a 30K, then run another 5K to finish the challenge.

Of more than 220 entrants, 212 finished the challenging course. You can see highlights of the race on www.videosomething.com and hear comments from some of the athletes.

This year, the event was able to raise $4,000 for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). One of the primary reasons the race is so successful and able to contribute the proceeds from the race is that Tanger Outlet Center enables the event to be held without charge and provides staff and facilities for the athletes.  The support from Tanger Outlet Center is much appreciated by race organizers and athletes.

A large number of the athletes hang around after the race to take advantage of the many stores to shop.

Four local athletes entered the race. Liesela Austin came in fifth in her age group with a time of 2:35:23.  Doug Framke ran a fast time of 1:41:14 and was followed by Mike Quiroz with a time of 1:45:43.  Eva Sanders was the winner in the over-60 age group with a first place finish in a time of 2:27:36. All of the local runners were satisfied with the event and, for a couple of them, it was the first time to try a duathlon.

With almost a race every weekend coming up in October, I started thinking why some races keep coming back and others sort of disappear in a few years.

One of the most obvious is the organization that is putting on the race and the person in that organization in charge of the event. We have had several races here in San Marcos that have had as many as 500 runners show up for a race and then, in a few short years, disappear from the running calendar.

There has to be a certain amount of continuity in sponsorship from an organization of a race and a person from that organization has to know what it takes to put on a race. The Country Roads 10K has had the support of the San Marcos Runners Club and David Alexander as a race director since its inception. This is a run for runners put on by runners, so most of the small things that make a race a success are taken care of because the volunteers in charge know what they like to see in a race.

This is not always the case when the race director of a race is a new person every year and has to reinvent the wheel each time. That is one of the good things that the San Marcos Runners Club does for organizations that want to put on a race, in that a new race director can contact them and the club (basically, it is Alexander, president of the SMRC) guides them through the necessary steps for a successful event.

One of the small items that help keep a race around is designing the shirt that runners usually get for their entry fee. I used to have a system of race shirt category placement in my closet.  A nice one you would wear out at a social gathering, as the comfort of the shirt and the design were something a runner was glad to wear. Then you dropped down to shirts that you wore when you went to races to let runners know you ran a certain race but did not mind getting it sweaty and soiled week after week.  Dropping down a few steps had you wearing the shirt while you did yard work or washed the car and then down near the bottom was the shirt you use for washing the car or wiping the dirt off a lawnmower.

Race shirts range from 100 percent cotton that is thin and, after the first wash, it no longer resembles a well fitting shirt. Some designs are such that they are better left in the closet. Others are 100 percent cotton, pre-shrunken and heavy duty shirts that will last for several years and retain color and shape. Colors are from popular colors like white, dark blue, black and some shades of red.  Others fall in almost every color of the paint chart and do not seem to go with any of the rest of your wardrobe.

Lately, the texture of the shirt is becoming important to runners. At one time, T-shirts were almost always the 50-50 cotton polyester blend that retained the shape and kept costs low for races. The design on these race shirts was more important, as the shirt itself would last for several years. Today you see on the flyers for entry to the race the mention of a “hi-tech” shirt as the official shirt for the race. These shirts are designed to wick sweat away from the body and keep the runner cool during a run, but even wearing them at a social gathering, the main thing is that they are very comfortable.

There are several types of “hi-tech” fabrics, and some are more comfortable than others. Some have a tight weave, and others seem to have an open weave to allow greater cooling properties. Then you also have short sleeve versus long sleeve shirts to consider. Runs in the fall and winter tend toward long sleeves, while summer runs favor short sleeves. Some shirts win contests for best design for a race and others never make it out of the closet.

All in all, the shirt is one of the items that often help in keeping a race coming back year after year after a well organized race. Whether the design is something thought up by a committee in the organization or the creative work of an artist in the group, it is something that the runners will remember after the race and may or may not advertise the race for future years while they wear it around week after week.

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