The weather couldn’t have been finer for our eighth annual Friends of Galveston Island State Park New Year’s Fun Run considering that it was Jan. 6, and that other years have not been so hospitable. I suspect this is why everyone was in a convivial mood milling around in friendly conversation before and after the race.
One attractive “young” lady (at my age of 86 all ladies look young and attractive) told me that she had been in all eight races because it was so much more fun than those big official races where you don’t know or get to talk to anyone because they’re so serious about it. Her words got me to thinking about back when and why the races started.
I was in the board meeting room some time around 2009 when an enterprising couple proposed that FoGISP sponsor a run in the park. They wanted to set up a sanctioned run with a carefully measured track and proscribed procedures, but all FoGISP wanted was a fun run that FoGISP could administer without all the seriousness of a sanctioned track and procedures.
FoGISP’s interest was in getting people into the park, perhaps for the first time, to see as much of the park as possible possibly to entice them to keep coming back. FoGISP and park staff laid out tracks that included the paved roadways and unpaved trails so that the runners would be exposed to and enjoy almost all park features. And so it went, except that in some years rain confined the race to the paved roadways.
Somewhere along the way, FoGISP got off track perhaps through avarice or through illusions of the race directors we started to look at ways of increasing the participants to increase the funds raised. First we instituted individual timing of the runners and professional management and then we measured and sanctioned the tracks, which limits them permanently to the paved roadway. None of this increased participation. So what’s next? A fully sanctioned race with whatever other stringent qualifications apply? Maybe then we can have impersonal races with thousands of runners like they do in Houston. To what end? Seems to me like we’re getting away from the original “fun run” concept of promoting the park, and instead we’re laboriously promoting the run.
Perhaps I’m just an old originalist hearkening back to the principles of the founding fathers; however, I’d suggest that we do go back to the original concept. Either we change the date to one when the weather is mild, not too hot and not too rainy, so we can use the original combination of paved roadways and trails, or we keep the January date laying out two sets of tracks: one for wet weather using only paved roadways and one for dry weather using the hybrid track. In either case, lets chuck the pretensions of being a serious semi-sanctioned race and get back to everyone having fun. So that’s one man’s opinions.