Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column:Get ready for Hooters-to-Hooters & Royal Palm Classic
What if they held a half-marathon (13.1 miles) and everyone who started the race finished, including those who never thought they’d run or even walk that distance? That’s what happened three years ago when the inaugural Hooters-to-Hooters Half Marathon made its debut. Based on what the Fort Myers Track Club’s start/finish-line technology indicated, and from my recollection as someone who worked the event as a roving course marshal (on my bike), every single one of the 700-plus participants who crossed the start line on Cleveland Avenue near Hooters also made their way to the finish line in Hooters’ parking lot. Granted, some of those who walked much of it were very tardy (to say the least), but they completed the entire distance nonetheless. To this day, I remain totally impressed with the 100 percent completion rate, a feat that’s rare in any distance race, not only a half-marathon.
The Hooters-to-Hooters half marathon is known as much for the footwork as the excellent post-run party. Another fact I feel is worth sharing is that the Hooters-to-Hooters Half Marathon raised more than $50,000 in its two-year history, money that benefited Moffitt Cancer Center and Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. This year’s proceeds will be divided between Moffitt and Barbara’s Friends for the Southwest Florida Children’s Hospital Cancer Fund. Organizers expect to reach the 1,000 participant mark this year, a goal, which if met, will undoubtedly raise significant money for the two organizations. As an added benefit, Hooters is one of the best sponsoring hosts I’ve come across. They treat runners, volunteers and spectators who are there with runners to a top-notch post-run party.
In an unfortunate schedule conflict again this year, the same day and time Hooters is being run, the Royal Palm Classic bike rides take place starting at Buckingham Park. The Caloosa Riders are always there to assist with foot races, and some of those who cycle also run, so having the two stellar events like these clash doesn’t help either club or those who participate and benefit. Hopefully this won’t be the case again next year.
The Royal Palm Classic features distances for everyone, from an easy, no-rider-left-behind 15 miler to a 100 mile century that takes riders to LaBelle. As a runner and a cyclist, you’ve got a difficult decision to make. Whatever you decide, it’ll be a good choice.
Coming even sooner than both of the above events is our area’s premier 5K, a race that attracts some of the best runners in the country and even in the world. The annual Edison Festival of Lights 5K takes place immediately prior to the parade and on the same route as the floats and marching bands. Unlike the parade, which begins at Fort Myers High School, the race starts in downtown Fort Myers beginning at 5:45 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 19. The post-race festivities make the Edison Fest 5K a must do event for residents and visitors alike.
Finally, don’t forget to register and train for the Fight for Air Climb on Saturday, March 30, at High Point Place on the river in downtown Fort Myers.
Two very important bike advocacy events are coming up, one in Washington, D.C. and the other in Tallahassee. First up is the annual National Bike Summit, organized and hosted by the League of American Bicyclists. Held from March 8 - 11, the National Bike Summit is a major undertaking for LAB, but vital to the national interests of cyclists. Similar in its importance to Floridians — including part-timers — is the Florida Bicycle Association’s Florida Bike Summit, being held on Thursday, March 24. I’ll be attending both and will surely have plenty to relate, especially considering that the general atmosphere at both levels isn’t especially bike/ped-friendly (the Obama administration not included in my assessment).
Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails. ¦
— Dan Moser is a league cycling instructor/ trainer and program manager for the Florida Bicycle Association who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 334- 6417