It is the time of year for preparations. Hopefully your taxes have been prepared. Some of us might start getting the garden ready. Maybe you are planning an eventual summer escape.
Runners have been in practice mode all winter long. Now with the weather changing they turn their attention to the plethora of races in and around T-Town.
"You could do a 5K every weekend if you want," said Betsy Penturf, former editor of the Tulsa Running Club's newsletter and former member of the group's board.
Several web sites including oksportsandfitness.com list area races. It is customizable and bursting with race details for both novices and experienced marathoners.
Many races have charitable tie-ins. The By Your Side 5K on Saturday, April 13, at Mohawk Park is more than a chance to enjoy a (hopefully) warm and sunny day. Registration fees collected before the 9am race go to the Parkside Psychiatric Hospital and Clinic and it's food pantry and assistance programs. Such a set up is common at many local runs, benefitting a wide variety of worthy causes.
But we might be getting ahead of ourselves. Before you show up race ready, we should find a starting point. We need to take our mark, get ready, and get off to the races. But how?
Take Mat Burns for instance: Husband, father of three, typical day job, and absolutely no running experience in high school or college.
"I used to see runners on the street and laugh," said Burns. "But now I get jealous and wish I was out there with them."
Thanks to several specialty footwear stores the possibilities and opportunities are endless for starting out. A structured "Couch to 5K" program is a popular choice for beginners, but it is not necessary.
"All you need is a decent pair of shoes and a little willpower," said Burns. He should know. It has been exactly one year since he caught the running bug. He suffered several minor running injuries at first. Would having a running coach or experienced group have helped get him off on the right foot?
He thinks so but doesn't regret a minute of the journey. "I started 30 minutes on the treadmill," he said. "Last April was the first time I ran three miles on my own. It took probably three months to be able to run three miles all the way through." He finished last year running a half-marathon at the popular Williams Route 66 Marathon, scheduled this year for Nov. 24, with a 5K and fun run a day earlier.
COURTESY OF TAMMY MOORE/TATUR
Every race was a first last year. Each themed run was a unique adventure. Each has its own flavor. Aquarium and zoo runs, zombie-themed runs, mud runs, color runs, and of course the Tulsa Run.
"That Tulsa Run was wild," he said. "They have bands and so many people. All along the route people cheering you on and acting crazy. It is nuts. It takes your mind off of what you are doing. It is almost more entertaining for the runners than the people watching the runners go by." The Tulsa Run will take place Oct. 26 this fall.
Penturf on the other hand ran her tenth Tulsa Run last year. No track or long distance running for her in high school or college either. Something about the passion and camaraderie of running and the people you meet along the way.
Her introduction was similar. An apartment workout room with one treadmill and a flyer on the wall for a corporate challenge 5K.
"I had only run on the treadmill," Penturf said of the start to her running career in 2003. "I didn't know if I could do three miles. I warmed up and went outside. I lived close to the trail at that time. I went out and ran a couple of miles. I can actually do this. Wow, this is kind of exciting."
The Tulsa Running Club was one of the only outlets to train for big runs such as the Tulsa Run a decade ago. Training runs were set up on Sunday mornings along the river.
"I started going to those," she said. "You meet people that way. I knew some people in the running club before that. Volunteer groups are always looking for people on the boards. I'm thinking I'm not qualified. Of course I get saddled with the news letter the first time I go." She was also president of the Tulsa Running Club for two years.
Penturf believes getting started in running today is much easier than 10 years ago. Now if you hook up with a running group they line everything up for you. Training runs, days, water along the routes; everything is set up to keep runners coming back. A few newer races have grabbed her attention.
Take The Color Run on April 20 for example.
"They are thinking they will have 15,000 people doing it," she said. "It is on Riverside. It is not even timed. It is a 5K and people are supposed to wear white. At each K, people are throwing out cornstarch-based color. You are doused. People love it."
Tatur.org is capitalizing on the Tulsa running craze. It stands for Tulsa Area Trail and Ultra Runners. They are responsible for some of the most interesting races in Green Country.
The Mud Run attracts a wide variety of participants. Runners of all ages and skill level look to get dirty at least once a year, with the race this year scheduled for June 1.
The Undie Run is another example of letting it all hang out. The throng of runners frolicking down Brookside is a site to behold, and this year it will take place July 20.
The Glow Run 5K should light up the night. A 8:30pm start on August 24 will ensure the party lasts late into the night.
Between the exotic races and the more traditional ones, Tulsa and surrounding areas have the exact race for you.
A lot of money is raised at these events for charities thanks to title sponsors, creative spirits, and dedicated runners.
And if running does not appeal to you there are other opportunities to participate. Spectators and volunteers are always welcome.
Perhaps the party atmosphere being created will change the turnout. More bands, beers, and food options might mean more cheering crowds wherever the next route takes the runners.
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