Moe Johnson Running with Moe
Looking forward to the Bobcat Prowl 5k
The next race in San Marcos is the Bobcat Prowl 5K out at the Country Estates subdivision next Saturday, April 29. This location has become a popular spot for putting on a race. For runners it has numerous things making it an appealing race. It is a very easy out and back course to follow and a scenic course with a chance to see some wildlife during the run. The Bobcat Prowl 5K is a well-organized race and the awards are unique with a 3-inch medal of a bobcat painting by Bob Pankey. This makes the award a one of a kind that can’t be duplicated. Runners can register online with Athletes Guild or wait until the day of the race and sign up at the race headquarters. Since the proceeds go for university scholarships, it is a good benefit to support. For local and area runners it is a popular race to run.
Since there are no real landmarks for the signs indicating the miles, it requires an early check to make sure the small mile marks on the pavement are still visible. This doesn’t seem important but I was a victim of not having marks in the course one time when I was the lead bike in a race. As I approached what I thought should be the turnaround point, the aid station volunteers just gave me a shrugged shoulder when I asked if this was the turnaround point. There were no signs of any kind indicating that this was the point runners needed to head back to the finish. After I passed the aid station hoping to see some indication of a turnaround point it wasn’t until I was out of range when the aid station volunteers told the runners they needed to turn there. I finally turned around when I realized I had gone too far and on my return the volunteers had put out a sign indicating that their aid station was the turning point. That is one reason I want to double check that there is some mark telling volunteers to put out that sign with the arrows telling runners to turn around and head back.
Looking back at some of the various race courses that have been used in San Marcos there are a few that are very easy to keep runners staying on the course. Country Estates is one of the easiest to host a run with little chance of runners making a wrong turn. The hardest part is putting the mile markers down in the correct location. Another race that is easy to monitor is the out and back course starting at the Toyota Car Dealership. There is only one turn before the turnaround point and the rest is just a matter of following the lead runner.
Then you have a few races that require a lot of volunteers because of the number of turns needed to complete the race. The cemetery race is a good example of needing lots of volunteers. Our race crew marked the turns with over a dozen arrows in the cemetery. This gets a little complicated when the course is a path among some grave stones with several paths leading off to the side. This course also was a tough one for the lead bike. The hill leading up to Loop Street was long and steep and every time I was part of the race, the lead runners passed the lead bike. We solved the problem with a two-bike system. One led the runner’s part way up the hill and a second bike picked them up at the top to go around Loop Street. The other problem for bike leads was trying to pedal fast enough in the cemetery to stay ahead of the runner on a narrow path and then having to make a sharp turn at a fast speed. If you slowed down for the sharp turn the runner passed the bike and since the paths were narrow it is almost impossible to pass the runner and become the lead again. The solution was to stop before the paths through the cemetery and hope that the numerous signs amongst the grave stones kept the runners on course. The bike lead could pick them up again as they exited the cemetery.
The other tough course is when the race was following the River Walk. It is very difficult to ride a bike on the course since the paths are narrow with a pea gravel surface. It is a very scenic course and one that is popular if you have enough volunteers. The course is a “P” shape in the park. It is an out and back course with a loop at one end. There are many turns and much of the course is in a forested area. We have had more than a few runners get lost in the woods on this course. Race organizers are not aware of a problem until the runner’s friends start to wonder why their friend has not finished yet.
While a seemingly easy volunteer job in a race is being a direction person it is one of the most important and the one that can create the most trouble for race organizers.