Some of you know for the last five years I have worked with a small group of about 5 or 6 friends in my neighborhood to put on the 12South Winter Warmup 6K and 12K race. If you have been in the studio, you’ve seen the poster and also heard me talk about this race!
As a long time runner and occasional weekend racer, it’s been fun for me to be a part of bringing a race to my neighborhood. This year the race was in jeopardy of being canceled earlier this Summer. Our group of volunteers were spread too thin with jobs, families, new babies, and life in general. We had some serious conversations about canceling the race this year or skipping this year. When no one else could be the point person or race director, I said I’d do it. The race was too important to me to see it just fade away after four years … each had been bigger and better than the previous year. Our race had momentum and avid fans and I felt we owed it to them to keep it going.
What some of you may not know is the origin of this race. A group of us formed a small neighborhood running group – 12South Runners and credit should go to Greg Gillum for the idea and pulling that together. It was on one of our weekend runs we discussed the desire to run before attending the Winter Warmer Beer Festival. That is the kind of thing a runner does – before doing something we know is not the best for ourselves we like to get in a run! From that sprung the idea to put on a local race and we decided to call it the Winter Warmup … before the Winter Warmer. Once again Greg took the lead and was the original race director of our race.
What makes our race unique is it was started by runners and created for runners. Often races are created by organizations or companies or charities with a board initiative or a financial goal in mind. I’ve worked on races before and none have been so runner-focused as the Winter Warmup. We simply wanted to put on a fun, appealing race, pay our expenses, and if we had some extra money use it for good things in our neighborhood. As runners, we discussed what we wanted in a race: affordable entry fees, high quality technical tees for all the runners, chip timing, a closed course, motivating prizes, lots of prize categories, and lots of crispy creme donuts! (side note: we purchased 60 dozen Crispy Creme donuts this year and all but about 11 donuts were eaten by the end of the race!)
Acting as race director this year has been fun, challenging, exciting, stressful (I hope no one can ever see how many times I refreshed the control panel to check registration numbers leading up to the race!) and rewarding. I had a few personal goals for the race. I wanted our race to break the 1,000 mark with runners for the first time – we ended up with 1129 runners! This was a new record for us. I also wanted to grow the kids race from 53 kiddos last year to 100 this year – we had 170 kids this year!! I’m thrilled this year for our new additions to the race including interactive booths by Lululemon, Fleet Feet and Krave Jerky (which is delicious by the way!) We also knocked it out of the park with prizes from too many local merchants to name and Burger Up as a our new primary prize sponsor. Also new this year – red shirts which were a big hit!
There are lots of moving parts and details to be handled to put on an event this size. I certainly did not do this by myself and was fortunate to have a great committee of hard working neighbors and friends: Allison, Catharine, Erin, Morgan, Abbe, Audrey and Amy as well as a strong race company in Start 2 Finish. Today as I sit back and reflect, I feel like I should be doing something because I’ve been in that mode for the last month and half! It’s a bit like a wedding … all the planning, the excitement of the day and then it’s over.
I’m proud of what we accomplished and pleased with how smoothly our race went. I’m touched by the kind comments from racers left on our Facebook page. I am also excited because now we begin the task of seeing what we’ll net and how much we can donate to Hands on Nashville’s Brown’s Creek Cleanup Program, The 440 Greenways project, Rooted in 12South, Waverly Belmont PTO, Glendale PTO and Julia Green PTO. People have asked me why I volunteer and do this when it’s so time consuming and to that I say, “When was the last time you made 170 kids smile and enjoy exercise or threw an active, fun party for more than 1,000 neighbors?” If that is not rewarding, I’m not sure what is!