Monday, April 16, 2007

It Takes a Village (or Two) to Organize a Race

If you start the Bridge-to-Bridge Half-Marathon on Tilghman Island this Saturday, when you see this bridge, chances are you're almost finished.

I enjoy running in races. It's a great way to push myself; to create a (semi-)disciplined routine; to work towards a goal; to gauge my fitness. And I thoroughly enjoy when a race presents itself locally that allows me to redefine running routes and thoughts. This was my mindset when two St. Michaels runners sprung the Bridge-to-Bridge run concept on me. I thought, "what a cool race to run!"

Grassroots is a word I can relate to. Helping to organize a first year race is as grassy and rooty as it gets. I have a tendency to get tunnel vision on a project and try to will it into being. But a funny thing often hits me on the really big, worthwhile goals--I need help to get there. And the help is inspiring and as much of the process as the end result.

I don't know much about race directing. So the first thing I thought about was to bring in someone who does. Tim Bamforth runs the Seashore Striders, and I have been impressed with another local race Tim directs, the Oxford Day 10K. So I emailed Tim, who was excited about the idea of a half-marathon on the Shore. As we started to spread the word to runners I know, I started getting calls and emails from runners I don't know. Hearing their excitement for the Bridge-to-Bridge run has been another huge motivator.

And then the logistical fish-throwing game. After measuring the course, we realized Tilghman Elementary School would be a good place to start the race. My wife, Robin, teaches there, and the staff at Tilghman have been great about having the school open and available on a Saturday morning.

The Tilghman Volunteer Fire Department stepped up to help with an escort for runners coming off the island and going over the first of the Knapps Narrows Bridges. The St. Michaels Police Department, and new Chief Dennis, have been supportive and excited to help keep traffic in check on race day.

Then people start catching thrown fish where you didn't even know you threw them. I got a call from The Historic Tidewater Inn and Restaurant Local, who asked if they could supply water to all the runners at our finish line (uuhh, sure!). The Inn at Perry Cabin extended their service road so that we have ample room for runners to park their cars in St. Michaels (cars at the finish line is absolutely the way to go!). Kelley Cox at Dockside Express is helping out to shuttle runners from St. Michaels to the Tilghman start.

A lot of great synergy dancing in synch to help to hopefully create something cool, memorable, historic, and an event that people plan their spring running calendars around. But let's remember--it's grassy and rooty. And while life giving, once the grass grows, you've got to cut it, weed it, and get it lookng even better for next year!


Nancy Toby said...

Wow, I only get comment spam in English!

So you're saying all the runners get lunch at Perry Cabin after the race? ;-)

I'm delighted you're getting good support for this race - I hope it becomes a St.Michaels fixture!!

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