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February 12, 2017

Moe’s Better Half Marathon coming together as event arrives

This is the time when the pressure starts to build, and my mind tries to bring all the pieces of a race together. It is somewhat like working a jigsaw puzzle where all the pieces are on the table; but it looks like a mess until you start putting little sections together to make bigger sections, and eventually the full puzzle – and you hope that you are not missing any small pieces.

Moe’s Better Half Marathon is still 21 days out, but the pieces of the puzzle need to start coming together. One piece of the puzzle - the 15-ounce ceramic mugs with the race logo on them - is in, and that part is checked off. The mug is a different color this year: light grey with a three-color logo on it.

The mesh runner’s caps are ordered, and the embroidery for the front is ready. Sewing 300 caps takes some time to put them all together.

The shirts in the appropriate sizes are ordered, and the design for them is being finalized. The quarter-zip, long-sleeve high-tech shirt is a little different then what we usually give to runners. As this is the last time around, we needed to try something we have not done before.

The ten $100 gift certificates from Core Running Company have been paid for, and 10 lucky runners will have their numbers drawn after the race to go home with a nice gift.

Robert Bermea will once again be the race photographer so runners can get a race photo of themselves out on the course to frame and hang on the wall. The Adam Johnson Band is set to provide some blues music for runners after they cross the finish line.

We wanted a different award that other races can’t give; so we selected a painting that I did in my artist years to put on the plaque for winners in the age groups. I know on our Facebook page it shows a winter scene with deer and a cabin in snow-covered mountains; but the committee voted on a horse-drawn carriage being pulled through the snow that looks like we are heading off into the night. They thought it represents a last race better. Hill Country Trophy has the photo of the painting and is working on producing 80 awards for the runners.

As you can tell from all of this, these things take time to get ready for a race; and 21 days is not that many days to work with big numbers of orders. And all these items need to be paid for before the race day. That is where I mail out invoices to our sponsors to make sure there is some money in the bank to take care of that.

Subway of Central Texas is our major sponsor, and has been for many years; and that takes care of many of the items. Other sponsors include the MVBA Law Offices that have also been supportive for several years; Texas State University Graduate College has been a sponsor for several years and has some students and faculty run the race; and My Emergency Room 24/7 is a repeat sponsor and they set up a table at the finish in case a runner needs some assistance.

We picked up two new sponsors this year, with Texas Physical Therapy Specialists coming on board; and they will also have a table at the finish to help with a few stretches for cramped runners. Orange Theory Fitness has only been operating for a few weeks and has agreed to be a sponsor and help at an aid station. If you need a little more conditioning to get in shape to run the 13.1 miles, stop in and try a workout at Orange Theory Fitness.

Details need to be worked out with Tanger Outlets. They have been outstanding in providing the race support and letting us use their facilities. It is great because there is ample parking, restrooms, space for our sponsors and support from the facility management staff.

Next up is making sure we have volunteers to manage the race. Without volunteers, the race just would not happen. Direction people, aid-station workers, finish-line people, registration help, course set-up and water coolers filled and delivered to aid stations every two miles are the essential tasks.

In the previous races, the Kiwanis Club, the beneficiaries of the race, have helped with a lot of the set-up and pre-race packet pickups. Since they have been doing this for several years, they got the details all worked out. I can count on Reenie Smith’s fitness class and Dann Baker’s jogging class, from Texas State’s Health and Human Performance Department for volunteers also.

The EMT Explorer Scout group is on board to have a good EMT-trained person at each aid station. Contact with the Constable’s office for traffic control and the EMT Unit are on the “to do” list.

But it is still all the pieces of the puzzle on the table; and now the task of the race committee to put things together for March 5th begins. After 33 years of putting on the Moe’s Better Half Marathon, you would think it would be easier. But even after 33 years - and about 40-plus years total of putting on races - it still takes a lot of work and effort, and help from volunteers and a great race committee, to make a great race for one last time.

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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