Where Have All the Races Gone?

“Where have all the races gone? Long time passing.”

If you are a local runner who loves to race (and don’t most of us fit in that category?), it’s not too difficult to find a race within short driving distance during most months of the year.

January has the Rio Resolution Run in Carmel. February is the Together with Love Run in Pacific Grove. March has the Mud Run at Fort Ord. April features the Big Sur Marathon events. May sees the Artichoke Festival Run in Castroville and the Heart and Sole races in Salinas. In July we hit Spreckels for the 4th of July Run. September has the Stevenson Run in the Forest in Pebble Beach. October hosts the Big Sur River Run and the Carmel Valley Trail Races at Garland Park. November has the Big Sur Half Marathon weekend with several events in Monterey.

Sure, that seems like a lot – but for runners, there are never enough. In fact, instead of celebrating the number of area races, many long-time locals have been witness to a very disturbing trend over the past several years, and often find themselves asking, Where have all the races gone?

It got us to thinking about all of the great local races that have passed away. We also asked some local running vets, and together came up with our best recollection of races that have faded into memory:

January used to have the YMCA Dennis the Menace run with the best t-shirts ever, designed by Hank Ketchum. We also enjoyed 25 years of craziness at the Bebermeyer Intergalactic Fun Run/Biathlon Gourmet Extravaganza. February usually featured the Popsicle Run around the Corral De Tierra loop.

March had the incredible Gonzales Grape Stampede with wine and a barbeque steak brunch after the race. We also had the DLI Run for the Dream in honor of Martin Luther King on a very tough course through the Defense Language Institute.

April was busy with the CSUMB Half-Marathon and the Marina 5-Miler, which was always the day before Easter. And we haven’t forgotten the Run for the Fun in Carmel that rocketed down Ocean Avenue and ran along Scenic Drive. May usually found us at the Creekside 10K in East Salinas.

June was busting out with the Run in the Sun hosted by Chamisal tennis club and the horrific Devil’s Hill Run up and down Jack’s Peak. July had Les Waddel’s Seaside Mile right on Del Rey Oaks Blvd and Maria Keilman’s Madonna Manor run in Salinas. Maria, the race director, always acquired 300 or 400 raffle items and everyone left very happy.

August - going way back on your calendar now - actually had a Salinas Marathon that started at Alisal High School and headed out Old Stage road and back. Even that wasn’t the first Monterey County Marathon – that honor goes to the Greenfield Marathon organized by the old Fleet Feet store in Salinas, although we really can’t remember the month. The YMCA Run for Shelter 5K/10K were held at Lover’s Point on the same course as the Together with Love Run. The Carmel Valley Fiesta runs often conflicted with the Lover’s Point runs. Prunedale had some Manzanita Park races where the winners used to get to ride in a convertible in the festival parade right after the race.

September had yet another Lover’s Point event called The Run for the Beacon which often had 1,000 runners or more. We even had the opportunity to run on Laguna Seca raceway at the Cherries Jubilee runs. East Salinas had the El Grito Festival races. Many years ago there was a Don Lucas Ford 10K that started at Custom House plaza.

October was full every weekend with the wonderful (and greatly missed) Fine Arts 5K in Carmel that finished with an incredible champagne brunch near the bottom of Ocean Avenue. The Salinas Skyclimb was on every tough runner’s calendar as it forced you to climb and then descend Ollason Peak in Toro Park. Jim Scattini organized a Salinas Main Street Mile that ran straight down Main Street in Salinas and ended near Alisal street. The Pastures of Heaven Half-Marathon circled the great Corral De Tierra/San Benancio Loop.

November had us all running to win turkeys at the CSUMB Turkey Trot. Finally, December ended the year with the Fort Ord 5K around Christmas time, and further back there was an East Garrison Half Marathon.

If you happen to own a t-shirt from any of these events, hold onto it like a treasured artifact – because chances are overwhelming that these races aren’t ever coming back. So the obvious question is: Where did they all go?

The simple answer is that good old fashioned economics caused their extinction. Most races are created as fundraisers, and race committees often find that the time and effort needed to put on a race doesn’t justify the meager revenue that is generated. Even the simplest races are surprisingly costly to stage – as we’ll describe further in an upcoming column.

We would love to see many of these races come back and see new races started in our area; not just in the name of raising money, but to promote health and fun in our community. If only we could go back to the time when we just drew a chalk line on the road, and had someone yell GO before a huge crowd took off down a road or trail running as fast as they can.

That’s the essence of racing. That’s the Running Life.

1 comments:

Old Fogey Runner,  December 17, 2009 at 9:07 AM  

Great article. I haven't lived in Monterey since the mid-80s, but I love the memories this blog stoked.

I remember most of the way back races you listed, such as the Dennis the Menace (aka Super Race II, III, IV, etc.), Marina 5-Miler, Don Lucas Ford (aka The Hospice Run), and the Salinas Skyclimb, among others.

I'd like to add to the memories:
-PG Sunday Fun Runs at Lover's Point. Free weekly informal races with a 1 mile and then rotated different distances 5K, 5 mile, 10K, etc. Year-round in the late 70s.

May:
Hollister Earthquake 10K in the late 70s / early 80s.
The Bayonet 7-Miler back in the 70s when Fort Ord was an Army based and the track was still cinder.

June:
Heart & Sole 5K/10K in Salinas in the late 70s through mid 80s.

August/September:
Cystic Fibrosis Run from Lover's Point to Asilomar and back.

  © Blogger template The Professional Template by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP