Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Remembering the reasons to drive long distances to run in a race

Running and Fitness
Friday, July 1, 2022

I was thinking about some of the races I ran years ago and wondered what made me drive to a town or city for a race.  It occurred to me that there were a few races where the drive was a couple of hours away.  What made me drive for that length of time to run a race?  The question that came up while recalling some of the past races was, ”How far will you go to run a race?”

It is great when the race is in your home town and it only takes a short time to get to the race.  Often the race might be in a nearby town that is less than an hour to drive to get there.  I am talking about races in smaller cities or towns as large cities have races almost every weekend.  San Antonio and Austin have a race in some part of the city on every weekend.  There are a few weekends where these cities may have up to three races on the same day for local runners to choose from.  For the size of the area of both Austin and San Antonio the distance across the city, and the increase of traffic, is similar to a runner in a smaller city driving to another smaller city.  For runners in San Marcos the towns of Lockhart, Wimberley, Seguin, New Braunfels, and Luling, are under an hour driving time to arrive at the race location.  

San Antonio and Austin are also close enough to drive in under an hour.  The extra time is after you arrive in the city is getting to the location of the race.  Some of these races are near the outskirts of the city and it may take another hour driving time to get to the race after you get to the city.  And if it takes over an hour to drive to the race what is it that draws you to the race that is worth a few hours driving time?  What is it about a race in Old Dime Box, Fredricksburg, Waco, Pflugerville, or College Station that makes the time to drive there worth that longer drive?  

The race is at a smaller town the chances are that the number of runners will be smaller than 100 runners and your chances of winning an award are better than a large race with over a 1,000 runners.  You might have another connection to the smaller town such as old friends, living there in the previous years, or a favorite memory of the town.  There seems to be a reason for the longer drive for you to enter a race farther away.  I tried to remember what it was that made me drive a longer distance to a race and other than it was another race to run I can’t recall a good reason.  Often it was the fact that the race was probably part of a small town celebration and there was parades, craft booths, or music venues that made the trip worthwhile.  Races like the Luling Watermelon Thump or the Lockhart Stampede Days had some form of outside entertainment to be part of after the race.  

If you are a marathon runner the race is almost always in a large city.  Dallas had the White Rock Marathon, Houston has a big race, Austin, and San Antonio have big marathons.  Usually these large races have an exhibition area with vendors and famous runners giving a talk that makes entering the race a memorable time.  The chance of riding up in an elevator with one of the top runners of the day is always a possibility.  I have a race shirt signed by Bill Rogers that reads, ”See you in Boston.  Bill Rogers” that is never worn except on very special occasions.

Races in other states are usually part of a vacation or business trip.  I ran Chicago Marathon with some friends because I have a sister that lives in Chicago and we had a place to stay and I got a nice visit.  My sister in Maine was close enough to visit for running the Boston Marathon.  Business trips to Las Vegas or San Francisco for a run was a good reason to get a tee shirt that not many of my local running friends had.  To enter a race that far away just to run the race is not usually the reason to run it.

The same reasoning can be made for organizing a local race.  What can race organizers add to a race that would be a reason for runners a few hours away want to enter your race?  Is the race part of a local celebration, an unusual award, a very scenic run that is different from most city races, or a famous celebrity as part of the race, are all possibilities to draw runners from a greater distance.  A good example is San Marcos and the Jingle Bell 5Krace as part of the big Sights and Sounds celebration.

The question for every runner is “How far away will you drive to enter a race?  And is there a reason you will drive a few hours to run other than you want to run a race that weekend?” 


San Marcos Record

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