Why Are Running Events So Popular?
Tom Crute, President of the Augusta Striders in Augusta, has been involved in the sport as a competitor and race director for over 20 years, and believes road racing is a great fitness alternative for Georgia families.
“I think road races are a perfect family event. So many races have divisions just for kids,” says Crute who is directing the SRP Federal Credit Union Broad Street Ramble on September 14 in Augusta. “We have designed the event to have a race for everyone including two races for adults, a 10K run and a 2 mile walk, and 3 races for kids.”
These events feature everything from competitive running races for adults, tiny-tot races for the smallest children and walks for those who aren’t interested in searing their lungs. Many of these events are far from over when you cross the finish line. Food, drinks (adult beverages too) and live entertainment are waiting for you and your kids at the post-race party. The best part, these amenities are often included when you register for the race.
Many race directors, like Crute, are being creative when trying to hook new families on the sport of road running. Crute’s September 14 race offers more to runners than just a great workout.
“We are distributing prize money to all ages, a $50 savings bond to the winner of every age group from 14 and under to 65 and over. Basically we have gone out of our way to make this a family event that is attractive to all ages,” says Crute.
Prize money and fancy awards are just a few effective methods that race directors have been known to use to get runners to the starting line. Steve Corkery, race director of the Macon Labor Day Race, tried something new before this years race to make the race more inviting to beginners and families. “We are constantly trying to come up with new ideas,” says Corkery whose Labor Day event has a reputation as being one of the top events in the state. “This year we initiated a six-week training program, which did draw a good number of new folks, as well as seasoned runners wanting to get faster.”
Where do you and your family start? Believe it or not, the best place to begin is on the starting line itself. Sign your family up for the next local event in your area, and give the sport a trial run. If you plan on running in a distance of 5-kilometers or further, you’ll need to have attained a general fitness level before you attempt a race of this distance. A good rule of thumb is six-weeks of uninterrupted training before jumping into your first running race. Remember that there are other options. Shorter events like non-competitive mile runs and walks are ideal for beginners.
Agnie Hagstrom, Fitness Director at Georgia Southern University, offers the same advice, “Get fit before the run.” She adds that it is also important to register early to ensure that your tee shirts will be there for you in the desired sizes so that your family won’t be disappointed.
Many running races are held in conjunction with events that you and your family have enjoyed in the past. County fairs, Fourth of July parades, Labor Day festivals are just a few places where you might see a road race contest. Whether you plan on attending a small local event that is run in conjunction with the county fair, or a large happening like the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta that attracts over 50,000 runners, there are some tips that will help you and your family succeed.
“For the leisurely-paced runners, don’t start in the front—you will get trampled,” says Corkery. “Walkers are encouraged to start near the back. Designate a meeting place in central location, just in case you get separated on the course.”
Tom Crute also offers some important advice for beginners that are interested in this individual endeavor. “My biggest tip is the reminder that you are competing against yourself in a road race. Everyone is running for their own reasons and chasing their own goals. Make sure you get out of it what you want whether it is a fast time, just a time away from the house, or a time to meet others.”
Locating Local Races
Finding a local running event has never been easier. The internet is the most popular place to look. You’ll be able to find out all of the details that you’re going to need when choosing the race that best suits you and your family, and in some cases—you can sign up online!
There are other places to look when searching for local running opportunities. Your local running store is a good place to start. They will often have race brochures available for upcoming events. Running clubs, newspaper sports sections and word of mouth are also common ways to discover races.
Checklist for Beginning Runners
These ten tips may not help you get to the finish line quicker, but they will make your racing experience more enjoyable.
- Pick up your race packet before the race if possible.
- Arrive plenty early to allow time for warm up and relaxation.
- Don’t wear new shoes—make sure they are comfortable and broken in.
- Wear comfortable, light clothing. Don’t overdress.
- Drink plenty of fluids the final hours leading up to the event.
- Eat a light breakfast at least three hours before the race.
- Don’t start out too fast. Avoid getting caught up in the hype when the gun is fired.
- Take water at the water stops along the course.
- Stick around for the post-race festivities after the event.
- Have fun!#