Archive for Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Race organizers seek city support

Group to ask commissioners to waive charges for benefit run

December 19, 2006


Organizers of the Lawrence Half Marathon will ask city commissioners at their meeting tonight to approve closing city streets and to waive charging for support during the April 15 race.

The Lawrence Half Marathon, which includes a 5K race and a 1-mile Fun Run and Walk, replaces the 10-year-old Raintree Run, which mostly was on bike paths in southwest Lawrence. With the new name, event organizers Marcia and Steve Riley have taken to the streets with new routes.

Marcia Riley said she wanted runners to feel "like they've really been someplace" after running the new course.

The route, however, has new costs and complications.

According to a memo from Assistant City Manager Debbie Van Saun, the city is being asked to cover $5,600 in expenses for providing traffic control, medical teams and a Dumpster at Haskell University, where the race will start and end.

In their city request, the Rileys cited the races' "benefit to the entire community." Marcia Riley also said paying the $5,600 would be "prohibitive" and would cut into the proceeds. Marcia Riley said if the city does not commit to covering the expenses, the race would absorb the extra costs.

The half marathon would travel through East Lawrence, down Massachusetts Street and through the Kansas University campus. The route, however, would necessitate closing Jayhawk Boulevard and Memorial Drive and would require restrictions on Learnard Avenue between 23rd and 19th streets as well as Massachusetts Street between 12th and Sixth streets, Marcia Riley said.

Motorists would share the road with runners on the rest of the route.

"People are going to have to be attentive and watch for the runners," Marcia Riley said.

Runner Tom Kreissler has tested the course with Steve Riley and is excited because the new route creates a more interesting atmosphere than the "sanitized route in west Lawrence."

"I like it a lot because we have these little landmarks along the way," Kreissler said. "I think people will come away with a better impression of Lawrence and the community."

Kreissler said he thought this would be an opportunity for Lawrence to create a signature event to draw runners to Lawrence.

Rick Marquez, director of Downtown Lawrence Inc., said his organization supported the race going through town, even if it means shutting down Massachusetts for 30 minutes.

"We asked our members, and everyone seemed to think it was a pretty good idea," Marquez said.

Van Saun said the city has handled similar requests in different ways. A bike race in Lawrence this past spring paid for its expenses, while an event conducted in conjunction with the dedication of the Dole Institute of Politics in 2003 had its fees waived.

Van Saun said the staff had no recommendation whether to absorb the fees.

"Typically on (these kind of events) it's not our recommendation one way or another," Van Saun said.

After covering the approximately $15,000 in expenses, remaining funds are earmarked for charity. The race has generated about $20,000 per year, Marcia Riley said.

This year's beneficiary of the half marathon and 5K is Health Care Access Clinic, which provides health care to those without insurance. The Fun Run and Walk will benefit Gibson Huston, grandson of Raintree Montessori School owners Keith and Lleanna McReynolds, who recently had brain surgery. The school was the races' major beneficiary in the past.


kmcd028 11 years, 4 months ago

This is a great opportunity for the city! Runners will learn more about the historical aspects of the city and be able to take more pride in our surroundings. The event planners have really taken time to make sure that there are reasons for shutting down the streets for minimal time (on a Sunday morning nonetheless.) The commission would be stupid to say no!

Raise the entry fee...I think keeping the fee low and encouraging more to participate would be better for all of us. Get your family and friends together and participate! We could all use some exercise!

conservative 11 years, 4 months ago

I've participated in this race before and look forward to the new route.

I'd be willing to pay a larger entry fee for a more varied route.

OnlyLawrenceRepublican 11 years, 4 months ago

The sentence as written (with the dangling modifier) states that the remaining funds cover the approximately $15,000 in expenses. That makes absolutely know cents.

estespark 11 years, 4 months ago

I think the event planners need to evaluate their processes before asking the city to cover 5K in expenses.

saudipoo 11 years, 4 months ago

This is a great opportunity for the city to step up and host the largest 1/2 marathon in the state of Kansas. It is associated with the MARA Grandprix events and will bring 2,000+ people to town. Not as big as a football game, but enough to notice. The new course is a major improvement from running an out and back on the south trail and brings the runners into the heart of the city. I congratulate the Rileys for their effort in this endeavor.

cowboy 11 years, 4 months ago

this race stood on its own in the past and should continue to stand on its own. Raise the fee what ever is necessary to cover the expense and leave the public trough alone.

Get out and do the real charity work getting sponsorships instead of dumping the problem on the city coffers !

jafs 11 years, 4 months ago

It would be good to know whether this event spends $15K to make $5K, or whether the proceeds after expenses are $20K.

KS 11 years, 4 months ago

cowboy - I could not agree more. Personally, I am an old Scrooge about this and think they should keep the race OFF of public streets. I saw one posting that it would be closed for only 30 minutes! Who is kidding who? How is the "T" going to run? :)

saudipoo 11 years, 4 months ago

KS and Cowboy really show how much support the local community has for runners and charitable causes. Way to go!

KS 11 years, 4 months ago

I have a tremendous amount of support for more than you will EVER realize. I support more causes than what I suspect is the average in this country, and quite frankly, it has involved a lot of money, as if it is any of your concern. I think the comment by Cowboy and supported by me is that this program should get the community to support your cause versus always running to the Government, whether it be local, state or federal. I guess your thought is that it is okay to support something, as long as it is NOT your money. I never suggested that runners not run for fun or exercise or a charitable cause. Great thing to do. I just don't understand why this community has built a tremoundous amount of walking and biking trails and now they are not good enough? I also agree that when one spends $15,000 to collect $20,000, that is a very poor return. That $15,000 should be donated by the community and not the local government.

stevejayhawk 11 years, 4 months ago

exactly gumbipika - good lord, its 30 minutes on a Sunday morning, and a lot of those 2000 runners will be hungry afterwards and patronize Lawrence's restaurants, and some will shop while in town, probably easily covering the city's investment. Even if it didn't, it is for a great cause and races like this are fun for the public, good for the city's image, and part of what makes a community, rather than some cold mechanical place made up of high rents and inflexible bus schedules.

SmartHawk 11 years, 4 months ago

I fully support for the race to be 'on the streets': Good for Lawrence and runners.

All those in opposition, plz note that all great marathons and 1/2's all go through the heart of downtown (chicago marathon, NY, boston...countless). Its good for the runners legs to run on road than on those hard cemented trails.

grean_lantern 11 years, 4 months ago

To clarify for those of you who are interested: the "profit" from the run is approx $20,000 which goes to charity. City resources have been used in the past; just fewer needed b/c route was on bike path, for the most part. This run, like many other events, will bring many folks from out of town who will enjoy our community, even for a short time. And, maybe, spend some dollars. Lawrence should be THE COMMUNITY for the best 1/2 Marathon in Kansas.

lmm 11 years, 4 months ago

Lake Shawnee would be a venue if it doesn't work out in downtown Lawrence....

KS 11 years, 4 months ago

gumbipika - The last time I rode a bus was at an airport to the rental car location. I could give a "you know what" about the "T" and if they have to stop for whatever. Apparently you did not see the :) sign behind that sentence. The "T" can sit as far as I am concern because nobody rides it, per se. I also support the run. I just don't think that the City should be responsible for funding the darn thing when it is a charitable event. Yes, thousands of folks will want to eat, drink and be merry after the race and have a good time in our town and buy some of their getting home gas here too. I udnerstand all of that, but I strongly am in favor of this event going after their own money. Here is a question for comparison puposes. I don't know the answer and I am sure that before the day is over, someone will post an answer. Does the Old Fashion Christmas Parade depend on City money? What about the St. Patrick's Day Parade? If they do, then the City should be fair to all and help fund the run. If they don't, then the same should apply to all events here. Where do you stop? I don't consider this to be rocket science.

saudipoo 11 years, 4 months ago

I think the point is that the city could offer city services at low or no fee and more funds would go directly to the Health Care Access Clinic. No one is pocketing money as a result of the run.

Scott Tichenor 11 years, 4 months ago

I can tell you what that many runners do when they come to town. The may stop and buy gasoline when they arrive, they guzzle coffee like no one's business (before and after), they eat huge meals afterwards because they've just burned through several thousand calories. Some of them will be making a weekend out of it and staying in local hotels/motels. The like their beer, they like their wine. These things are getaways, parties and time well spent with others. With the kind of crowd this one will draw, the economic impact to the city is huge. I suppose you can make arguments as some have that the city should not assist, but that's unrealistic for an event of this magnitude. If you believe that way then we need to shut down a lot of things that get subsidized.

I've worked the Raintree Run the past six years and will be working this one as well. It's all for a good cause, and it's a great event for the city of Lawrence.

KS 11 years, 4 months ago

nugget - We have heard all of that and we agree. Nobody has said it isn't a good cause. The question is whether the City should offer free services to a charity. If so, then where should the City draw that line? I ask the question again. What does the City do for other events, such as the Christmas and St. Patrick's Parades. If they do them free, they should do the same for the runners. The next thing you know, the "Association of Whatever" will want the same treatment. Where do you stop? That is my concern. It is a great cause and deserves the attention of the community. If all those gas stations and bars, etc. benefit from this event, let them help pay the costs.

Godot 11 years, 4 months ago

The people who are in charge of this event have friends on the commission. Ergo, we taxpayers will pay to support their favorite cause/hobby/entertainment/pr stunt. That is how it goes in Lawrence these days. Fair is not even a consideration.

Scott Tichenor 11 years, 4 months ago

Ah, I see.

Some of you are willing to accept the influx of dollars that come from out of town, but only if it's at the expense of someone willing to give it back to the community. So, if you're employed by an organization that might benefit from this, you're willing to have your employer call you in to work, but only if someone outside of the taxpaying base does this for free for you, for free.

Now I understand.

What they're asking for is a drop in the bucket. The "where does it all end" chicken little, well, that's just what it is, a bunch of chicken something.

Ah, and never mind the needs of people that can't afford health care.

Godot 11 years, 4 months ago

There are so many charities in this town whose volunteers bust their butts to solicit corporate support, and who charge fees adequate to meet their expenses and still make enough money to achieve their charitable goals, all the while making Lawrence a better place, without asking the city for special funding, that I would not even consider giving this group the time of day.

Charge more; get a sponsor; quit asking your friends on the commission for a special treatment.

KS 11 years, 4 months ago

nugget - a drop in the bucket is NOT the point. You need to reread the latest posting of Godot. It can't be said any plainer! I think you guys are asking for the "free" part? It's a "CHARITY". If we are to accept your reasoning, I guess my church should start approaching the Commission and ask for an annual donation. Are you okay with that?

Scott Tichenor 11 years, 4 months ago

Well, Godot, run yer silly ass for city commission then. This one is settled. City Commisison just voted to support it. 2852 posts.

Get a life.

KS 11 years, 4 months ago

Nice comments nugget. Gosh, what a role model you are for this charity.

cowboy 11 years, 4 months ago

what the heck , we have overdraft protection on our accounts , and were gonna pass all those new impact fees and taxes so we can continue our spendathon.

budwhysir 11 years, 4 months ago

didnt the city commisioners just vote to get a pay raise?????

toefungus 11 years, 4 months ago

Lawrence and Douglas County taxpayers are such saps.

auturgy 11 years, 4 months ago

Didn't you people vote to elect the city commission? If you didn't vote, then who do you have to blame here?

lynnd 11 years, 4 months ago

Auturgy has a point. Somebody voted these commissioners in...

I think we'd all be surprised at things the city pays for and aren't publicized like this. $5600 really isn't that much in the bigger picture. And the economic impact will be many times that amount.

Sometimes you just have to ask for things. The city certainly could have said no to the request.

I do agree with the previous posts that the group should solicit sponsors. Many businesses in town are more than happy to sponsor events like this if they're only asked, and it wouldn't take many sponsors to drum up $5600.

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