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Moe Johnson | Running with Moe

Jingle Bell Run 5K set to run through streets of San Marcos

Running with Moe
Saturday, December 3, 2022

Santa’s Jingle Bell Run 5K will be running through the streets of San Marcos on Saturday, Dec. 10.  It is the largest 5K held here in San Marcos with close to 900 runners that may show up.  Entry to the race includes free entry to the Sights & Sounds Celebration.  A real two for the price of one promotion.  Early registration is recommended to ensure they have race shirts your size.  Entering the race is a fun event because with so many runners from all over Central Texas you are bound to know other runners.

A little history of the Sights & Sounds 5K goes back to 1989.  Sights & Sounds started in 1988 and Darrell Rhodes was a runner and friend of mine.  He thought that having a 5K race at the same time would be a good idea.  Back then the Sights & Sounds event was on the Hays County Courthouse Square.  Working with San Marcos Telephone (Century Tel now) to sponsor the race, Darrell put on the first “Jingle Bell 5K” race.  The race shirt was a nice cotton long-sleeved shirt with a good Christmas design on the front.  I still think the navy blue shirt that was given one year is one of the best designs. The race eventually reached about 400 runners.  It has changed hands for race director several times but Darrell was the head director for the first races.  David Alexander had a hand at directing some of the early races with course set up and organization.  The race started at the entrance to the Wells Fargo Drive in Teller area and finished on LBJ at the Courthouse.  The race now starts down at the entrance to the Sights & Sounds event and also finishes there.  The basic course route still follows the original path with a few minor exceptions.

The one point that the race promotions highlight is that it is the only race that runs through downtown San Marcos.  That started me recalling the early days of racing in San Marcos.  In the early 1980’s almost every race was held at the Courthouse Square.  We held between 10 -15 races there every year.  I remember spending time directing eight races at the Courthouse one summer.  Things have changed since those years and the changes basically eliminated any races held downtown.  Back then there was not much traffic and costs for entry were cheap.  The cotton or 50-50 cotton shirts cost a race organizer about $5.  Entry fees were $10 for early registration and $12 for day of race. Traffic control included three or four police officers.  The cost for traffic control was one or two race shirts to the officer.

But, like anything else if there is a chance to make money, or get sued for getting injured in the race, cost to put on a race changed.  First was the requirement for a one day liability insurance policy in case a runner was injured.  The since Hopkins Street is a state highway a written statement from the DOT was required to run across Hopkins Street.  The next item was the requirement for a parade permit that was required by the city.  The little fees and charges were increasing.  Then the traffic control cost increased from two race shirts to over $100 for the officer and $15 for the car.  And instead of four traffic control locations the need jumped up to double that.  Today there are about 15 traffic control officers for the race.  

For a small organization trying to put on a race to raise some money for one of their charities the cost became too high to plan a race unless you had a big race sponsor.  Most of the businesses in San Marcos are small owner operated and only a few are considered a large business.  It is difficult to get enough sponsors to put on a race.  Most race organizers had to find another location to hold a run to avoid all the fees now required.  Some went to the outskirts of the city such as Country Estates or to “Jim’s Gym” (now Texas Health and Racquet Club) for a start.  There were a few races that still ran in the city limits and did not cross any state highways.  The Playscape 5K ran down Cheatham Street into the neighborhoods in that section of town.  The River Walk became a good location for races.

The best thing is that the Jingle Bell 5K is still alive and well and more popular now than in the past.  The Sights and Sounds celebration is now two weekends and has many thousands of visitors to San Marcos.  The requirement to get an entry to the Sights & Sounds  does not require a fast time in the race.  A good number of entries are walkers.  And Christmas costumes are a frequent  running outfit.

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666