Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Galveston Marathon Announcing Report

Sunday was the seventh running of the rebirth of the Galveston Marathon, with its associated half marathon, 5K and kids 1-mile run.

I was fortunate enough to be able to announce the race for Jana and Kevin Landry and Jay Lee for the sixth of those seven years.

Like anything else, you work hard to earn people’s trust and when it is returned it is incredibly rewarding.

And, even so, it can at times be daunting to maintain that level of quality.

If you’ve followed me and what I do for any length of time, you’ve heard me say that – to me – the most challenging part of race announcing has nothing to do with recognizing runners as they come to the finish line.

It is getting runners to the start line and the race started on-time.

As a runner, I don’t like to be cajoled with mindless banter over the microphone.

Tell me what I need to know, where I need to be, thank me for being there and get us started on-time.

So when I go to other races to run, I pay attention to see if there’s something I can do better or is there something I want to make sure that I avoid.

The race needed to change its location this year from Saengerfest Park on The Strand to Stewart Beach Park.

I don’t go to Galveston to get away.  Ever.  Just not my cup of tea.

One of the challenges that I faced upon arriving was where to set up and how to project the sound to accomplish the tasks that I stated earlier.  I was not familiar with the location at all.

The start and finish line – it seemed - was a little distance away from packet pickup and parking – nothing more than when we were by The Strand.

It just felt like that it was going to be an issue to get folks to the start.

In the past, Other Brother would have two sound units – one in the Park for awards and such (which I never do for Galveston because Jana wants me at the finish line making the runners feeling great about finishing) and one at the start/finish for music.

We’ve had a recording for the National Anthem before, but I thought a group sing would work.

I wanted to get everyone over to do it before the wheelchair and handcycle start, but I sensed with the parking being much closer for everyone that many may stay in or near their cars until the start time.

We had four handcyclists, one push cycle and one wheelchair racer for their 7:15 a.m. start.

I was able to get a lot of people beyond the start line to cheer these athletes on.

I had enough time in my timeline to be able engage each of the athletes before the start and find out their name – Rick Weisbrod, Douglas Dillard and Jeff Chaffin across the front and Fred Samuelsen from Deer Park and Bennie Jose Perez in the second row.

I thought it was a little different – and hope it was appreciated.

A lot of credit goes to the Chevron Houston Marathon and groups like Catapult and Achilles International for getting adaptive athletes more involved in races in the community.

I think – and hope – that we’ll see more and more races figure out ways to be more welcoming to these competitors.

Just before the start, Austin’s Dane Rauschenberg, a Penn State grad who’s been engaged in the running world for the last 10 years or so, came up and said Hi!

As did many others, including Galveston’s Kelly Carmichael.  He and his wife, Maria, ran the half on Sunday.

Beyond that, we were able to get the marathon and half marathon and then 5K started at their respective times at 7:30 a.m. and 7:45 a.m.

Jana Landry recorded the start of the half marathon and marathon here.

Before the start of the half marathon and marathon, we did a moment of silence for a young man who lost his life – with two other service personnel – at the hands of an ISIS radical in November serving the military.  Folks were running the race in his memory.

I brought up Jana to give a few words and then we recognized Elgin Faulkner of Houston to be our official starter.  Elgin is 87 years old.

He ran and finished the half marathon for the seventh straight year.

And his first Galveston Half Marathon in 2011, at the age of 81, was his first half marathon ever.

Heidi Walker did a fantastic job engaging the youngsters that were participating in the Kids 1-mile race (or half mile for those younger participants).

Then the real fun began:  the merging of folks with the three events as they approached the finish line.

Fortunately, Run Wild Sports’ Gary Mulvihill had the reader working near flawlessly.

Before I could really get into a roll with the 5K finishers, Friendswood’s John Moyer walked up all bloodied.

His race day was, unfortunately, over after taking a fall early in the race.  He said that it looked worse than it really was.

Houston’s Carlo Deason, 47, won the 5K in 18:52, the fifth fastest men’s time in the race’s short four-year history, while fellow Houstonian Erika Park, 41, used an event best 21:12 to win the women’s race.

In the masters’ division, Houston’s Peter Mullin and Freeport’s Melissa Hurta - a couple of local legends - were the champions.

Peter, 66, was second overall in 19:12, the eighth fastest time ever, while Melissa, 53, posted a fourth-best ever (and masters best ever) time of 22:31.

It was good, as always, to see the Sproba family – Mike and Robin – from Willis.

Carlo’s mom, Mary, 72, had a pleasant, happy smile on her face as she finished to win the 70-74 age division.

In the half marathon, Galveston’s Gabor Olah, 41, won in 1:18:07 – the third best half marathon time for the race ever.

Grove, Oklahoma’s Michaela Warner, 21, broke the event record with a 1:24:15 showing.  She runs for Oklahoma City University and was recruited to the university by world class ultrarunner Camille Herron and her husband Conor Holt (who was the head coach there between 2011-2012 and 2015-2016).

Sugar Land’s Zhang Wu, 41, and Denver, Colorado’s Alyn Park, 65, were the masters champions in 1:28:51 and 1:46:40, respectively.

Former Lamar University athlete Bree Fontenot, 22, won her age group.

The Bay Area Running Club’s Alex Grous had the funniest comeback to me announcing his name at the finish by loudly announcing mine back at me.  Well played, Alex.

Friendswood’s Dale Kohn, 60, won his age group in 1:40:48 and went back out to be a part of the pacing team, which was money all day long.

It’s funny in that people say that I know everybody.  Well, not quite, obviously, but six of the 12 finishers in the men’s 60-64 age group of the half marathon I did!

Seabrook’s Terry Frank, one of our Running Alliance Sport board members, and The Woodlands’ Judith Blevins posted finishes in the 60-64 age group.

Beaumont’s Stephen O’Neil easily won the men’s 55-59 age group in 1:41:13.

As did Dickinson’s Jitka Newald in the women’s side of that age group with a 1:48:43 showing.  It took me a few years to get Jitka’s name pronounced right, but I do so steadily now.

Keith Schreiter paced the 2:20 half marathon group and did so splendidly – 2:20:11 gun and 2:19:29 chip time.

Bartenderx Oropeza was fourth in his 40-44 age group, bumped down a spot by one of the pacers, I believe, Jerry Hernandez.

I didn’t get a chance to talk with him, but I did recognize – in the data file – and then so again on the course Wes Heinlein, who was one of my two TIR teams in 2009 that was a friend of Edwin Quarles when he lived down in Angleton.

From the marathon, it was good to see Pearland’s Donna Palmer, who finished in 4:33:46 good for second in her age group.

She’ll be pacing at The Woodlands Marathon and then running the Trail Challenge at the 14th annual Seabrook Lucky Trail Marathon a couple of weeks later.

Most recognizable to me was Houston’s Stacy Holden, the author of People of Memorial Park, who ran a 3:43:20 that was a Boston qualifying time.

Bay Area Running Club’s Al West got one of the other 11 BQ times on the day with a 3:17:24 time.

And, of course, Bennie Jose Perez.

He only missed his PR from the USA Fit Marathon by less than five minutes, but a stellar showing of 4:06:26 in a quad wheelchair and not in the most favorable of conditions.

If you stumble on this blog post and I missed a shout out, I’ll catch up on the next event report.

As I’ve pared back a little back in the last two years, there’s a period of time at nearly every race where I go, “I don’t want to do this anymore.”  That happened on Sunday morning.

The biggest part of it was that I might have to announce in the rain, which I just really don’t care to do.

If I were out there trying to drum up business and announce every weekend like some of my colleagues do, I’d invest in a tent.

But I don’t know how much longer I’m going to do it so why invest that money?

And two other things that I think many don't realize:  1.) the prep time to sound really good and 2.) the physical wear and tear from being on your feet continuously for eight hours (for a marathon).

And I pretty much refuse to sit and announce from a chair.  It's work, right?  :-)

I appreciate the race directors who take what I do seriously and take care of me.  They – and the racers who make it all possible – are the ones that keep me doing it.  Just not as much!

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