How to choose a local race

  • This was printed in July of 2015 in The Madera Tribune, a newspaper in Madera, California. This was the 108th installment of my weekly column, Mind Over Miles.

More than 19 million people finished a running event in 2013.

We’re in the midst of the “Second Running Boom” (the first was in the 1970s)

according to Running USA, an organization that monitors race trends in the country.

Last year, more than 28,000 footraces, including 15,200 of the most popular

distance, the 5K, were held across the United States.

Because of this boom, a runner doesn’t have to travel far at all to race on any given

weekend. Valley runners may have to take a short road trip to run a full or half

marathon, which are less popular and harder to put on than a 5K, but generally

there are at least two races between 1 mile to 10 kilometers each weekend in the

Fresno/Clovis/Madera area.

It makes it really hard to choose which ones to participate in.

Here are some tips to narrow it down:

Research the cause

Typically, some portion of the proceeds of each race benefits a charity.

In Madera, the Second Wind 5K in March gives all of its proceeds to the Madera

Rescue Mission and the Madera County Food Bank.

The annual Mother’s Day Run hosted by Greater Madera Kiwanis donated a portion

of its proceeds this year to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and the rest

went to local scholarship and youth programs.

The Madtown 5K hosted last month by the American Association of University

Women raised money for local scholarships and to send middle school girls to a

science and technology camp at Fresno State.

If you’re stuck deciding between two or more races, visit the event’s website or

contact its director and ask what charity the race will benefit and what portion of

the money will be donated.

Coming up on Aug. 2 is the Miguel Reyes 5K in Fresno’s Woodward Park (sign up at that will benefit the

family of the late runner. Reyes, of Fresno, was killed in a car crash in March while

on his way to work. He was 38. The local running community will come together to

run in his memory.

Run to compete

When you race locally, you get to know who is in your age group and who runs close

to your pace. Friendly competition can ensue. Your opponent may know you’re

competing with them, or they may be completely oblivious — either way it’s fun!

Some races will list their registered participants, and you can take a peek to see if

your nemesis will be there. If you’re feeling in shape, register and push yourself! If

you’re recovering from an injury or just not feeling up to par, pick the other race so

you won’t feel obligated to keep up with your rival.

Go for the perks

Who can resist swag (also known as “stuff we all get”)? If I’m really having trouble

choosing between races — they are all for causes I support and I know who my

competition will be — I go for the race that will give me the best loot. How cute is

the t-shirt? Will I be treated to a beer and a koozie at the end of the run (check out if that sounds like your cup of tea), or will there be breakfast?

Always the bargain hunter, I try to get the most bang for my buck!


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