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November 1, 2015

The race must go on

I got a chance to experience my comments about running in the rain from last week’s column.

Some of the lighthearted comments were very close to coming true; and others showed what a hard core runner is. For those who can recall last Saturday, it was almost a “perfect storm,” with three systems combining to bring San Marcos some very heavy downpours of rain.

The Kiwanis Club was sponsoring the Pumpkin Dash 5K out at the Toyota dealership on Posey Road. The club members started setting things up at 6:00 a.m. Saturday morning, with awnings and tables to be a little protected from the rain. Twenty members showed up to put this race on.

Kelli Whigham was the race director; and her committee had worked for several months ironing out the details that go into putting on a successful race. It is a hard decision to cancel, or even postpone, the race after that many hours of hard work.

With the rain prediction from the days before, many of the registered runners took the option of: “My entry money goes to a good cause, and I already have more T-shirts than I need.”

And “day of race” runners, who might have registered that morning, looked out of their windows, saw the water rushing down the street, and thought the better decision would be to stay home and rest up for an afternoon of football on television. Only one runner showed up for day-of-race registration.

The rain got a little more intense; and pre-registered runners were making that decision I wrote about last week: “How bad do I want to run for a T-shirt and trophy?”

The group of organizers and runners were huddled under one of the awnings, trying to get out of the rain as best as they could. It wasn’t bad until a member in the next tent over decided to empty the water that was accumulating on his tent roof, and doused anyone standing nearby.

That prompted a few decisions, like maybe it is too wet to run in this weather. The general drift of opinions from the runners was, “I will just take my shirt, go home and stay dry.”

Kelli asked if anyone wanted to run. It sounded like everyone, including the volunteers from Kiwanis, voted to cancel the race.

But one young runner said he wanted to run the race. Then another runner said he wanted to run it also, followed by a third runner who voiced his opinion that he would run. The runners got up to four wanting to run the race.

The decision was—“Let’s do it.”

With that decision, the race was a go. I went out to the turnaround point to count four runners passing the halfway mark; and then I could start picking up the cones marking the course. I counted four runners at the turnaround, and began to get ready to start picking up cones; and then saw another runner coming up the road.

Behind this runner were two more runners. Then, in the distance, came another two runners. And behind them came a few more.

The feeling was, “If he can run in this rain, I can run too.” While only 25 percent of the registered runners showed up for the race, it showed that there are still some dedicated, hard-core runners willing to run under adverse conditions. And for 20 Kiwanis members to stand out in the rain and cold showed what a hardy group they are.

The best part of the race was that everyone got a trophy and a door prize from a drawing. Those runners who did not show up were notified that they could pick up their pre-race packet at Core Running on the square in downtown San Marcos.

I talked with the crew from Athlete Guild that was there to time the race. They said that the company had four races scheduled that day; and the Pumpkin Dash 5K was the only one that went ahead with the race.

Talking with some of the volunteers over this past week to hear their comments about the race, the answer that was heard most frequently was, “I really enjoyed the long hot shower when I got home.”

Moe Johnson
Dr. Maurice Johnson - better known around San Marcos as “Moe” - is a professor in the Department of Health, P.E., Recreation and Dance at Texas State University - San Marcos. Moe has been a fixture in the San Marcos running community - both as a runner and race organizer - since way back when Moby Dick was a minnow. His column on running and fitness appears each Sunday in the Sports section of the San Marcos Daily Record.

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