Saturday, September 13, 2014

Lake Areas Need Improvements

Read through the city's Lake Nasworthy Master Plan and you'll notice that biking, hiking, running and walking are described as the most popular non-motorized recreational activities that take place in the areas surrounding the lake.

The park areas, open space and roads around Nasworthy provide an almost-perfect venue for outdoor fitness activities (we'll get to the "almost" part later).

 Lakeside areas such as the swim beach (Mary E Lee Park), the KOA loop, Spring Creek Park and Middle Concho Park are all used extensively by cyclists, hikers, runners and walkers. The lake parks also serve as starting points for cyclists and runners heading out onto area roads and into the Twin Buttes open space.

The problem is — to move past the "almost-perfect' status mentioned earlier — these lake areas need a few potable water stations, one or two additional restroom facilities and a couple of small bridges.

Water is a problem because there are no locations to drink or refill a water bottle in the areas described above. Given the typical hot and dry conditions during the "active" season here in San Angelo, having access to drinking water during exercise is important for health reasons. The city might want to take a cue from the State Park, which has a few water stations strategically located on key trail areas.

Restrooms are another problematic issue in some of the areas. Although Spring Creek and Middle Concho parks have usable facilities, a visit to the antiquated and overused powder room at the swim beach will leave you saying, "I hope I can wait." The KOA loop, which is heavily used by runners and walkers, has an even larger restroom problem with no facilities at all except for the sparse brush on the hillside.

The last items needed to improve the non-motorized recreation infrastructure around Lake Nasworthy are two small bike/pedestrian bridges. Currently, there are no safe bike/pedestrian routes that connect the swim beach to Middle Concho Park and Middle Concho to Spring Creek Park.

To do a complete loop of the west side of Lake Nasworthy, a cyclist, runner or walker starting at the swim beach must travel on Knickerbocker Road to Red Bluff Road, follow Red Bluff to Middle Concho Park, go past the Twin Buttes Spillway on a dirt road, do an illegal crossing over the Twin Buttes dam, bushwhack past the south edge of the spillway to Spillway Road, go through Spring Creek Park to Fisherman's Road and then back to the swim beach.

That current loop is a fun and challenging mountain bike ride or run, but its not a route that's appropriate or safe for most people. Two small bridges similar to those over the downtown North Concho River would solve the problem and create a scenic loop that connects multiple lake parks and circles around all of the west side of the lake.

The first bridge would be over the canal from the KOA loop to Hot Slough Park, allowing cyclists or pedestrians to bypass Knickerbocker Road and access Red Bluff Road from the KOA. Bridge number two would be over the old railroad pilings in Middle Concho Park left behind when the Santa Fe Railroad line was relocated during construction of Twin Buttes Reservoir. This bridge would connect from Middle Concho to the nature trail on Spillway Road.

Most of these needs described above and the related benefits to both San Angelo residents and out-of-town visitors are noted in the Lake Nasworthy Master Plan, the 2012 Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan and the city of San Angelo's Bike and Pedestrian Plan.

Remember — the plans are in place, so now it's time to start implementation.

Upcoming Events

Sept 20: Color Up 5K,
Sept 27: High Sky Foster Run,
Sept 27: Mason Lions Club 5/10K Run,
Oct 4: Shannon Pink Ribbon Run,
Oct 11: Goodyear Race for Celebration,
Oct 11: Christoval Vineyards Half Marathon,
Oct 18: Heart Walk 5K,
Oct 19: West Texas Half Marathon and 5K,
Oct 25: Armydillo 10K,
Nov 1: 30K of the Dinosaur trail race,
Nov 1: Six Hours of the Dinosaur mountain bike race,

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Eary Fall Running Events

As the cooler fall weather approaches, numerous running events are showing up on the regional calendar with at least 11 races scheduled during September and October and some weekends having multiple events on the same day.

With such a wide range of events to choose from, many area runners will select which events to race based on criteria such as raising funds for good causes, scenic venues, and honoring those who died during the 9/11 attack.

Four interesting events on the packed fall schedule include Run to Remember on Sept. 13, the Mason Lions Club 5/10K on Sept. 27, Shannon’s Pink Ribbon Run on Oct. 4, and the new Christoval Vineyards Half Marathon and 10K on Oct. 11.

Run to Remember on Sept. 13 will honor those who lost their lives during the attacks on 9/11 as well as those who continue to defend our country today. This event, sponsored by Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Angelo, will take place on the Angelo State University campus near Foster Field and will include both a 5K cross-country race and a 1.5-mile fun run/walk.

You can find out more about Run to Remember by calling (325) 486-2200 or by visiting

On Sept. 27, some area runners will make the short road trip to the hill country community of Mason for the 8th annual Gem of the Hill Country 5K/10K run.

Participating runners will enjoy a great course that goes from the center of town through neighborhoods and up past the historic Fort Mason where Robert E. Lee was once stationed, and there will also be cash awards for breaking the 5K or 10K course record.

In addition to offering a scenic course, the event is the biggest annual fundraiser for the Mason Lions Club with the proceeds being used for graduating senior scholarships, volunteer fire departments, food banks, shelters, and other nonprofit charitable organizations in the region.

Gem of the Hill Country information is posted at .

On Oct. 4, downtown San Angelo will be the venue for the 7th annual Shannon Pink Ribbon Run. This large running event will feature a 1-mile run/walk, a 5K run and a 10K run with all proceeds benefiting programs at the Shannon Women’s Imaging Center.

Breast cancer survivors are invited to participate in the Pink Ribbon Run at no cost, and the first 800 paid participants will receive a free Pink Ribbon Run T-shirt. For more information, visit

The running action shifts south on Oct. 11 for the Christoval Vineyards 10K and half-marathon. Both races will start and finish at Christoval Vineyards and Winery with runners completing a challenging out-and-back course along scenic farm roads that includes the hills along Allen Road.

All runners receive a technical shirt and etched wineglass with race logo, and post-race festivities will include wine tasting and catered food to compliment the wine tasting.

In addition to the scenic course and post-race amenities, proceeds from this Run in Texas event will benefit the national Team RWB veterans organization. Full information is posted online at

As noted earlier, there are at least 11 regional running events scheduled during September and October, so if the four races spotlighted above don’t match what you’re looking for just browse through the ‘Upcoming Events’ listing below for more options.

Remember — fall is coming and the regional running event calendar is full.

Upcoming events
Sept. 13: Run to Remember,
Sept. 13: Mudslinger Fun Run,
Sept. 20: Color Up 5K,
Sept. 27: High Sky Foster Run,
Sept. 27: Mason Lions Club 5/10K Run,
Oct. 4: Shannon Pink Ribbon Run,
Oct. 11: Goodyear Race for Celebration,
Oct. 11: Christoval Vineyards Half Marathon,
Oct. 18: Heart Walk 5K,
Oct. 19: West Texas Half Marathon and 5K,
Oct. 25: Armydillo 10K,
Nov. 1: 30K of the Dinosaur trail race,
Nov. 1: Six Hours of the Dinosaur mountain bike race,

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Triple Threat

Almost 14,000 cyclists turned out for last week’s Hotter N’ Hell event in Wichita Falls to ride the 100-mile bike tour or do other weekend events such as the shorter cycling rides, trail run, mountain bike race or USA Cycling road races.

The Hotter N’ Hell 100 is the largest century ride in the United States, and for many cyclists just completing the 100-mile ride is a capstone achievement.

Some participants, however, want to test themselves even more, and 166 individuals took on the

That’s a total of 124 miles of cycling and running in the August temperatures that exceeded 100 degrees at times.

San Angelo’s Marlon Miller and Mertzon’s Brian Tillman were among 166 Triple Threat racers who successfully completed the three events to earn one of the coveted ‘I Survived the Triple Threat’ trophies.

Tillman, a runner and triathlete who trains on the rural country roads surrounding Mertzon, finished the three event competition in 31st place overall with a cumulative time of 9 hours, 16 minutes.

He finished the mountain bike race in just under 1 hour, 16 minutes; rode the 100 miles Saturday in 5 hours, 56 minutes; and capped off the weekend by running the half marathon trail race in 2 hours, 4 minutes.

“The hardest part was the section of the HHH 100 ride between miles 80 to 95,” said Tillman. “I knew it would be rough going straight into a 15 to 20 mile per hour wind in the heat but, I really paid the price on this section. I had to stop at the rest stop at mile 95, re-hydrate and re-fuel, and still suffered cramps in my legs for those last five miles.”

“I had really thought I could rank higher in the half marathon the next morning, but by the time that race started my legs were just rubber from the previous two days. Still, my time was only about 15 minutes slower than what I think I could have done on fresh legs.’

Miller, who notes that his strongest disciplines are mountain biking and road cycling, finished the Triple Threat competition in 43rd place in 9 hours, 43 minutes.

His 1 hour, 2 minute time in the opening mountain bike event was the fifth-fastest among all Triple Threat competitors, and he solidified his standing in the upper part of the field by riding Saturday’s 100 miler in 6 hours, 6 minutes and then running a 2 hour, 34 minute half marathon on Sunday.

“Although I’ve done the HHH 100 ride on four previous occasions with my best time for the century ride being just under five hours, this was only my second bike-run combined event,” said Miller.

“My training consisted primarily of just riding a lot. Running isn’t my favorite activity. I haven’t ran much since my Army days, so I didn’t start any serious run training until a month or so before this event.”

Remember — hats off to Miller and Tillman for great performances in this year’s grueling Triple Threat event.

Upcoming events
Sept. 13: Run to Remember,
Sept. 27: Mason Lions Club 5/10K Run,
Oct. 4: Shannon Pink Ribbon Run,
Oct. 11: Goodyear Race for Celebration,
Oct. 11: Christoval Vineyards Half Marathon,
Nov. 1: 30K of the Dinosaur trail race,
Triple Threat challenge by competing in an 11-mile mountain bike race Friday, the 100-mile bike tour Saturday and then running a 13.1-mile half-marathon trail race on the final day of the event.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Event Insurance

Liability insurance for an event can be a significant expense when organizing a cycling race, fun run

However, given today's lawsuit-crazy society and the city, county or state insurance requirements for most events, liability insurance is something that must always be considered part of an race's budget.

It's a necessary expense and something that will help protect you, your organization and the owner of the race venue in the unfortunate case that an accident occurs during an event.

John Seaton, Risk Manager for the City of San Angelo, says that the city requires race organizers to submit a certificate of insurance with their event application showing a minimum liability insurance coverage of $1,000,000 general aggregate.

"We also ask that the City of San Angelo be included as an additional insured on their policy for the event," says Seaton.

Although there are multiple sources for obtaining event insurance, race organizers typically make insurance decisions based on if the event is sanctioned by a national body or if it's an independent unsanctioned event.

A sanctioned event is one organized under an event permit from a national organization such as USA Cycling, USA Triathlon, or the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA).

These national organizations have insurance programs in place for the events they sanction with the cost of insurance for sanctioned events paid for by fees charged to the event organizer.

In order to be sanctioned, the event must typically be organized by a club that is a member of the national sanctioning body, must comply with very specific safety criteria, and the race promoter must pay race permit and insurance fees as set forth by the organization.

Using USA Cycling as an example of a national sanctioning body, a race promoter must pay an permit fee that ranges from $25 to $700 per day based on the projected number of participants plus $3 per racer per day for insurance coverage. USA Cycling also requires that every sanctioned event use (and pay for) an approved number of race officials licensed by USAC.

In addition, all participants who do not have a USA Cycling annual membership ($70 per year) are required to purchase a one-day racing license which costs $15 per day.

The costs of the permit, insurance, and race official fees are passed on to participants via race entry fees, so it's not uncommon to see entry fees for sanctioned one day events cost $50 or more (not counting the cost of a one-day license fee for non-member participants).

The alternative option for race organizers is to put on an unsanctioned event not affiliated with a national sanctioning body. Unsanctioned does not imply lower quality - instead, it simply means the event is not affiliated with a national organization.

To comply with the insurance requirements of city, county or state governments (or private landowners in many cases), organizers of non-sanctioned events must purchase their own event insurance from an insurance agency.

One of the largest vendors for this type of event insurance is McKay Insurance in Knoxville, Iowa (

McKay and similar agencies do not have event sanctioning fees, race official requirements or require participants to be members of a national sports governing body, but the cost of the liability insurance policy for an event will typically be higher than the insurance fees charged for a sanctioned event.

The insurance fee charged by McKay for a typical one-day cycling event is $4.10 per participant with a $365 minimum premium, with the premium for a running event being $2.20 per participant (also a $365 minimum).

For multi-day events such as a race series, these insurance costs would increase significantly. A recent insurance quote for a five week cycling race series indicated that the cost of liability insurance would be $1,460.

The take-home message for groups planning a cycling, running, or multisport event is that although liability insurance can be expensive, it is almost always required for an event and - most importantly - it serves to protect the organizing group and any additional insured organizations if a lawsuit occurs.

Remember - liability insurance for an event is important, so include the insurance cost in your race budget.

Upcoming Events
Sept 13: Run to Remember,
Sept 27: Mason Lions Club 5/10K Run,
Oct 4: Shannon Pink Ribbon Run,
Oct 11: Goodyear Race for Celebration,
Nov 1: 30K of the Dinosaur trail race,

or triathlon event.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Ride for Eric

Paint Rock resident Matt Garcia will be doing a 100 mile bicycle ride next Thursday (August 21) to help raise funds for a Ballinger family that needs our help.

His route will take him through a lot of the rural countryside east of San Angelo in areas near Paint Rock, Eden, Ballinger & San Angelo.

He'll be doing this ride solo and self supported, which means he'll be on the bike for six or more hours in the West Texas heat carrying supplies such as water, food and bike repair essentials.

In addition to the heat, Garcia will face rough chip-sealed roads, wind and the fatigue that comes with making his bike's wheels spin through 75,880 revolutions during the 100 miles he'll be riding.

This isn't Garcia's first rodeo as relates to long bike rides - he has completed events such as the Livestrong Challenge ride in Austin, multiple Hotter 'n Hell Hundreds, Ride for the Roses, the March of Dimes ride and a several Children's Miracle Network rides.

You'll notice based on his past events that he has an affinity for doing rides that raise money for good causes.

Garcia will be doing the August 21 century ride alone, but ... he needs your help to make the ride a success.

His century ride next Thursday will be a 'Ride for Eric' fundraiser to help raise money for Eric Hoelscher, a Ballinger resident who recently has surgery to remove a golf ball sized brain tumor.

Hoelscher does not have medical insurance, so all funds raised will help pay medical expenses for the brain tumor surgery and subsequent treatment.

You can help make Garcia's 100 mile 'Ride for Eric' a success by simply pledging a certain amount of money per mile for every mile that he rides.

Think about it - if 500 people pledge $.50 per mile, Garcia (with your help) will be able to raise $25,000 to help Eric Hoelscher and his family through these tough times as they face the current and future medical bills.

Given that San Angelo's population is around 100,000 with a lot of good companies that support important causes, there should be a lot more than 500 people who make pledges if you'll help spread the word.

You don't have to make the pledge by yourself - get your cycling or running group involved to collect donation funds or 'pass the hat' in the office this coming week and make a pledge on behalf of your club or company.

Any amount of money that you pledge will help, and remember that you don't have to sweat your way through the 100 mile ride - Garcia will be doing that for you.

Making your ride pledge is easy - just log onto to use a credit card or send your donations or bike ride pledges to the Eric Hoelscher Benefit Fund, Ballinger National Bank, PO Box 660, Ballinger, TX 76821.

For more information on the Ride for Eric visit

Remember - Matt Garcia's century ride will raise money to help a fellow West Texan, so let's cheer him on with our pledges.

Upcoming Events
Aug 21: Mountain bike time trial,
Aug 22-24: Hotter'N Hell Hundred,
Sept 13: Run to Remember,
Sept 27: Mason Lions Club 5/10K Run,
Oct 4: Shannon Pink Ribbon Run

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Chip Scoring

'If there's a way to complicate a simple task by using modern technology, we should be using the new technology because it must be better than what's been done in the past.'

That's the prevalent attitude with almost everything today and - for better or worse - the task of scoring many running and multisport events seems to going in that direction.

Much of this is driven by participating athletes wanting complete race results posted on web sites and social media a few minutes after the event finishes.

In the early days race timing and scoring was simple.  A volunteer (usually a spectator who was drafted on the spot) was handed a clipboard, pencil, and watch and was tasked with writing down names or bib numbers and times as athletes crossed the finish line.

It wasn't uncommon to hear the race scoring volunteer ask "does anyone have a stopwatch I can use?"

After everyone finished, the race director spent a few minutes figuring out who were the winners in the various categories, awards were handed out, and - usually a few weeks later - the race results were typed up and sent out via snail mail to club members.

The preferred method of scoring events gradually evolved from the simple clipboard method to the index card system where athletes were simply handed a numbered index card as they finished. It was the racer's responsibility to fill out the card with their name, gender, age, and time.

Although very simple, this system worked great and is still used for a few events.

As race management became more sophisticated (or complicated?) many race directors adopted the newer tear-off bib number system.

Each pull tag was filled out prior to the race start with the athlete's name, age, gender, and any special award category information.

After each racer crossed the finish line, his/her tear-off tag was pulled from the bib number and then taped in sequential order onto a table or scoring board.

A printing stopwatch (high technology at the time) was used concurrently to capture all finishing times in order, and these times were then manually written on the corresponding pull tag.

After the race was over, the information on the pull tags was reviewed to determine the finishing order in the various race categories.

Participants would crowd around the scoring board after the race to see what their finishing time was and how they placed overall, and some (unlucky) person would spend much of the next day looking at the results board and typing up results to post on a web site.

In the late 1980s electronic sports timing ('chip timing') became commonplace for motor sport racing and by the mid-1990s some of the larger cycling, running, triathlon, and ski racing events started to adopt this technology.

Chip timing systems consist of a transponder ('chip'), an antenna and the decoder that 'reads' the unique code emitted by each chip, and database software that takes the data from the decoder, matches it up with pre-loaded participant information and calculates the final race results.

These chip timing systems are expensive with the small lower-end 'club-size' systems costing several thousand dollars and the individual chips or bib numbers that have embedded RFID chips being an additional cost.

Chip timing systems are great when they work properly - they can provide almost instant results for a large group of racers and allow those results to be easily uploaded to web sites or posted on social media

The down side is that it's common to see chip timing errors because racers wear the chip improperly so that it isn't 'read' by the timing system or because of incorrect registration data in the timing system's database.

My personal opinion is that we could have the best of all worlds by blending the old and new methods of scoring races.

A blend of the index card method and chips just might be the ticket to ensure fast and accurate results while allowing race directors to advertise 'we use chip scoring.'

As each runner crosses the finish line, he/she will be handed a large tortilla chip that has been numbered (1, 2, 3, ... etc.) using an edible-ink pen.

Just as in the index card method, each racer would be responsible for writing their name, time, age, and gender on the tortilla chip after finishing the race.

The race official would use these 'scoring chips' to determine awards and - as an added benefit - the chips (along with some salsa and beverages) would serve as after-race snacks.

Remember - simple and edible chip technology might be a good way to score events.

Upcoming Events
Aug 13: Run to Remember,
Aug 21: Mountain bike time trial,
Aug 22-24: Hotter'N Hell Hundred,
Sept 13: Run to Remember,
Sept 27: Mason Lions Club 5/10K Run,

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Area Athletes Target Upcoming Events

The hot mid-summer weather isn't slowing down area residents as they train through the heat to prepare for upcoming events that will take place between now and early fall. Those events include the new San Angelo Triathlon, the Hotter'N Hell Hundred cycling tour, and the 2014-2015 cyclocross race season that will kick off in October.

San Angelo Triathlon
Regional triathletes are putting the final polish on their swim, bike, and run fitness as they prepare to race  the new San Angelo Triathlon on August 10 in San Angelo's Spring Creek Park. This new event replaces the Wool Capitol Triathlon which was a mainstay on the Texas triathlon circuit for many years. The triathlon will include both the classic Olympic distance event (1,500 meter swim, 40K bike, 10K run) and a shorter sprint distance race with a 500 meter swim, 20K bike and a final 5K run. Race categories will include both individual age group and team relays in both the Olympic and sprint distance events.

The San Angelo Triathlon will also take place in a new venue at the marina in Spring Creek Park. The swim course will be in Lake Nasworthy near the marina with the bike leg being an out-and-back through the park to Spillway Road, then over the equalization channel onto Knickerbocker Road to the turn-around point. Racers will finish off the triathlon by completing a final run that goes from the marina through Spring Creek Park to the turn point, back around the point on Camper Road and then to the finish line near the marina. Full information on the San Angelo Triathlon and a registration link is posted on-line at

Hotter'N Hell Hundred
Many area cyclists will be headed north to Wichita Falls on August 22-24 for the 33rd annual Hotter’N Hell Hundred cycling event.  Although the capstone event of this three-day festival is the 100 mile cycling tour, the 12,000 or more cyclists who participate in the event will also be able to take part in road races sanctioned by USA Cycling, race their mountain bikes on the WeeChiTah Trail, run a 10K or half marathon trail race, or test themselves in the Triple Threat competition by completing the mountain bike race, the 100 mile bike tour, and the half marathon trail run. San Angelo's Marlon Miller will one of the individuals taking on the Triple Threat challenge so let's cheer him on. Visit for full information on the Hotter’N Hell Hundred.

Cyclocross University
Although the cyclocross season in Texas doesn't start until October, a group of area cyclists will start building their race fitness and honing cyclocross skills during the weekly 6:30 pm Wednesday evening cyclocross workouts that begin on August 6 in San Angelo's Middle Concho Park. These facilitated workouts, jokingly referred to as 'Cyclocross University', are open to anyone who wants to learn or improve their off-road cycling skills and learn about cyclocross events. All ability levels are welcome from beginners to experienced cyclists, and each participant will need a mountain or cyclocross bike, helmet, and either mountain bike shoes or flat pedals with running shoes.

If you are not familiar with cyclocross (CX), it is a form of off-road bicycle racing where riders complete multiple laps of a short 1-2 mile course for 30-60 minutes per race.  Each lap of a race will include one or more 'dismount-and run-with-your-bike' obstacles and the courses may include dirt, grass, pavement, sand, mud, and even snow/ice since the race season starts in the fall and goes through the winter. The local CX race series and the state-wide Texas Cup series will both start in October, and the 2015 National Championships will take place in Austin in January of 2015. For more information on the Wednesday evening cyclocross workouts visit San Angelo Cyclocross on Facebook or email

Remember - the hot summer weather isn't slowing down area athletes.

Upcoming Events

Aug 2: Southland Shuffle,
Aug 6: Cyclocross group workouts, 6:30 pm, Middle Concho Park
Aug 7: Road bike time trial,
Aug 10: San Angelo Olympic and sprint distance triathlon,
Aug 13: Run to Remember,
Aug 21: Mountain bike time trial,
Aug 22-24: Hotter'N Hell Hundred,
Sept 13: Run to Remember,
Sept 27: Mason Lions Club 5/10K Run,