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March 6, 2016

Race day has finally arrived

Today is the day of Moe’s Better Half Marathon out at the Tanger Outlet Center.

The runners take off from the starting line at 7:00 a.m. for a run out on the county roads and a chance to look at cattle, llamas and some antique tractors. Most of the runners will be in by 10:00 a.m., and the organizers will be well on their way to loading equipment and race stuff onto trailer beds and pick-ups, having one more race under their belts.

From a runner’s viewpoint, the race organizers hope that everything went well and that they enjoyed the race. From the race organizers’ viewpoint, the race is actually five days old.

It starts Wednesday by picking up the bags for the pre-registered runners, in which they will get their race shirt, a race number and several goodies from Tanger Outlet Center. Tanger encloses several gift cards, and some of the other stores at Tanger help out also.

Thursday finds the race organizers picking up awards from Hill Country Trophy for the faster runners, and the race shirts from KC Sportswear. The caps and ceramic mugs that runners receive after running 13.1 miles are in boxes in various locations around my house. Jim Moyle brings in the refrigerator magnets with the race logo on them for all the runners.

Friday is busy with getting some banners from the major sponsor of the race, Subway of Central Texas. One other essential task is to go out and help put the portable toilets along the course for runners who might need one.

And I still need to pick up a key to the San Marcos Rec Hall for an evening of stuffing packets for over 200 runners with the correct shirt sizes, race numbers, buttons, pins and various handouts.

The key to stuffing packets for pre-registered runners is to arrange the packets in alphabetical order, and then get them in boxes to take to Core Running for Saturday pick-up by some of the runners. That pretty much fills the evening hours.

Saturday is packet pick-up for most of the day, and making sure runners get the right size shirt and correct bib number. The evening involves moving some of the giveaway items out to Tanger so that the trailer can haul the cones, mile markers, direction signs, tables and coolers Sunday morning.

To get one more hour of sleep Sunday morning, we set up the finish scaffolding and attach the banners to them after the stores close on Saturday evening. That way, I can get here at 4:00 a.m. instead of 3:00 a.m.

So here it is Sunday morning at 4:00 a.m., and not much is going on. Luis, the grounds manager for Tanger, will be here at 5:00 to open doors and set up the traffic barricades for parking; and volunteers start to show up at 5:30 a.m. They will bring out the tables for registration and packet pick-up, load the tables for water stops out on the course, fill coolers with Gatorade and water for the water stops and take these out to the various mile markers.

The San Marcos AFJROTC has built a nice balloon arch for the finish line and they are putting it up. The sound system and the computer for registration is set up. The ceramic mugs and finishers’ caps are placed near the finish line to be given to the runners as they complete the race. Earlier, Steve Whigham and Darrell Rhodes set up the course and coned off Centerpoint Road to keep the runners on the correct side of the road.

The constables show up; and we go over where they will help out with traffic control to help keep the runners safe. Just before the race, the EMT unit arrives as a precaution for any injuries or problems. The weather forecast predicted temperatures in the mid 50s and warming up to over 70 degrees. That’s a nice temperature for most of us; but a little too warm for running 13.1 miles.

The race starts, and that gives the race organizers about an hour to get ready for the finish of the race. A table is set up with all kinds of cookies, donuts, and fast-energy types of food, as the runners will be hungry. San Marcos BBQ will have some sausage wraps for the runners.

The awards table has to be set up so that the correct age groups and place finishers can get their awards quickly; that means that 72 awards have to be laid out on a table. And after that, the drawing for 10 $100 gift certificates to Core Running will be held.

Whew, time to load it all back up, go get some breakfast, take a nap and get ready for next year.

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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