Thank you to the 150 runners that showed up at the Task Force meeting yesterday

August 12, 2008

It was pretty amazing to see the room packed. When I got there at 4:30 the city had put out 40 chairs, that didn’t last very long as the room filled up and a whole new section was created. Notes about what was discussed as well as a couple of interviews from people in attendance are on

The meeting in two weeks will be interesting. Some of the task force members brought up a few times that they needed to inform more neighborhood associations so they can voice their concerns. Here are a few of mine from yesterday:

  1. The task force members said this is about events and not just running but I heard “races” 5 to 10 times more than I heard “event” … draw your own conclusion
  2. One of the task force members said “I want to get ahead of it so the presumption the event will go ahead isn’t there”. That didn’t come off to me about working on a solution together but seemed more about trying to prevent events.
  3. The assistant city manager clearly stated that there has been NO direction from anybody in the city that events or races should be reduced. I think that’s good but policies can lead to that even if that isn’t the intent. Case and point, the Go for the Gold 10k, the costs have gone from 10k to 24k for the barricading and coning. How is somebody supposed to deal with that so this time around there was no Go for the Gold. And this is without any regulation change, just how people have all of a sudden decided to “enforce” things.
  4. One of the people presenting (a consultant for events) made a comment that “small event planner” are the issue since they don’t know what’s going on. I differe on that account, the Go for the Gold has been held before, they seemed to just get screwed by stupid rules.
  5. There were also comments that small events may not belong downtown. So that means the Cap10k, the Human Race, etc can go on but the small races for charities can’t occur in the downtown or East Austin area?

I have a lot more notes but this is what I remember off the top of my head. What concerned me wasn’t what was said but the undertone of some of the comments. It was after most people left and the break that this really came out. We need to make sure we keep informing people about the real issues and concerns and that this process doesn’t just cater to a handful for interests.

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No more 5k’s or 10k’s in downtown Austin!

July 30, 2008

Yes that is a possibility. There’s a “Street Event Closure Task Force” the City Council has created to evaluate what to do about the traffic disruption created by Special events, like 5k’s, 10k’s and street festivals. The recent changes to City regulations already make races unaffordable, you can’t spend $10,000 to $25,000 to put on a 10k without charging people $80 and having lot of people show up. And that’s just the cost for barricading and the police, forget t-shirts, food, etc.

So for all of us that value the benefits of the races we’ve come to love it’s time to speak now or forever hold your peace, because the Task Force can recommend changes that would effectively make 5k’s and 10k’s as we know them as part of the fabric of the running community a thing of the past. Now think about that, a handful of people making a decision that the 10’s of thousands of race runners over a year may not even know will change what they’ll be able to do.

Want to make your voice heard. Attend the next task force meeting on Monday, August 11th at 5:00 p.m. in room 1029 at City Hall (they will validate parking)

Austin’s new rules and regulations are killing some races, what’s next?

July 18, 2008

A couple of months ago I commented on the cost of races in Austin going up and basically that I agreed with John Conley’s sentiment to some extent over Paul Carozza’s in an Austin Runner article. Today I saw Wish’s posting about a race that went from an out and back to a closed loop and another 5k that is cancelled because the cost is in the $8,000 to $12,000 range which makes it pretty much impossible to put on a race.

With this and the “let’s charge” groups for using the parks, which I’m sure will be fairly applied to all groups … yeah right, it’s going to be an interesting year for runners. It seems like races are only going to be large, and put on those with some financial backing so the small races every now and then we could take part in might become a thing of the past in Austin.

With anything else that is “political” it generally is the people that are most vocal that get their way. Up to now I think runners have been pretty satisfied with what the city has done. As more of these changes in policy are coming to light it might be time to actually start paying attention to what’s going on and sharing our thoughts with our elected officials. For all the wanting to be the fittest city in the country you’d think we’d want to figure out a way to support the people that are trying to set a good example with their lifestyles?

Cost of races in Austin

May 22, 2008

The latest issue of Austin Runner has an article discussing the increasing cost of racing in Austin. There are a few interesting things there, one of them was the increasing use and requirements for barricades. In recent races the last year I’ve also noticed just more barricades at each intersection. I think I’m more inclined to agree with John Conley’s sentiment about making the requirements really meet the needs and not just add barricades for the sake of adding barricades.

The other thing that struck me as odd was that the City’s solution to keep costs low is to have city workers do the barricading of the events. How does that impact the businesses that make their living with barricading? Something about the City increasing barricading requirements, which raises the costs for the barricading companies and then coming back with an option that cuts out those companies if the City does the barricading donsn’t quite make sense to me. Why not just keep the rules simple and the overhead low and streamline the process for the local businesses involved so they can keep the costs low since this is the core of the business.

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