January has come and gone! While not memorable as our most wintry January, there are several major SRR takeaways worth visiting. From my own perspective, I count one of the best days in January as Winter Flight day. This year, January 26th got the nod and it didn’t disappoint. As race director, such a historical event requires extra work to meet such a high bar set in the 80’s and 90’s. Multiple times over those early years, the race topped 1,000 runners and at least on one occasion, 1993, SRR members hoped for 2,000. I am going to visit the similarities and dif-ferences in 1992 and 2020 in a Salisbury Post column just after this newsletter comes out.
With this writing, I want to tell about what became the best Winter Flight in 10 years. Both the Tar Heel Tour and Running Journal Grand Prix are no longer in existence but the past WF’s an-chored these two points series for many years. It took an exceptional effort to win the 8K races. One Olympian, Joan Nesbitt of Carrboro, still owns the women’s course record that she set in 1992.
WF dipped to just 165 finishers a few years back and the glut of nearby races played a big part. But so did the sameness of practices in a saturated market of events. A strikingly similar event started up in Charlotte, on the Saturdays before our Sunday event. Two other events, one on Saturday and another on Sunday took runners away. One long time club member, familiar with the past big numbers, thought it should be easy to get the participants back using the old meth-ods. We tried a few of those, but only found a marginal increase.
Over the last five years, we took some chances and tried some new things, making a drastic change in the event. Here are the changes that have worked so far, or at least have been popu-lar with participants. We added a 5K, billed as a health run/walk. Less pressure, less training required and an easier course. Then we added timing for the 5K. We opened the fun run to any age and kept it free, at least for this year.
And Meredith Abramson just keeps getting better on her hoodie! Just today, I heard yet again from a participant who is getting rave reviews on her design. Rowan Helping Ministries is taking an active part in Winter Flight by providing solid adult volunteers for the course and split timers.
New technology this year included a return to chip timing. We’ve used it before but found that the company we used was less upfront about final pricing than they should be. Chip timing is expensive, so we expect a certain quality of service and we got it. Part of the added service this time was an almost immediate print out of finish time and stats and a later finish video.
Board members did well getting sponsors and vendor charges were reasonable. New Sarum Brewing joined us as title sponsor for the first time. The result was a very successful event on a beautiful day with 411 overall participants, up about 60 from last year. Participation is on the rise and we’ll do what we can to keep it that way. About 60 volunteers did a fantastic job on the streets and around the Catawba campus.
With a cancellation of the Valentine’s Day 5K, we only have one race in February. It is on the 29th at the Will Run for Food 5K at Centenary Methodist Church. This race is well managed by Carla Kluttz, and all the proceeds benefit packing thousands of dried meals for the needy both here and abroad.
Sign up for the mileage clubs and look ahead for races and the beginning runners classes. One of our members showed me her shirt the other night and I’ll use it for the quote of the month. I can hardly understand any of those that the editor keeps pushing me to use anyway.
“Our sport is your sport’s punishment!” Darn right it is!
See you on the roads!