It is unofficially Summer - Wednesday night zoo runs began last week. My speed work has been slack, and it shows - I added an extra minute to my 2-mile time. So, I'll be working on cutting that down again tomorrow.
Here is the article the San Antonio Express News ran (hee) on us:
Web Posted: 08/07/2007 2:00 CDT
Athletes keep a tradition in Brackenridge Park
For years, the rhythm of runners' pounding feet has echoed along tree-lined paths at Brackenridge Park. They start outside the Parks and Recreation building at 950 E. Hildebrand — stretching, rubbing muscles, waiting for the signal to run.
Gilbert Hernandez gripped the handles of a three-wheeled baby stroller at that spot on a recent Wednesday, crouched and ready to run with 60 other participants. His wife, Peggy, her sister, Martie, and their three children braced themselves beside him.
"Runners!" shouted volunteer Sally Rios from the steps of the building. "Set, go!"
The family disappeared into the scattering crowd. Hernandez, 39, pushing the stroller beside his waddling 2-year-old daughter, fell to the back of the pack.
The Hernandezes have returned to the park after a three-year hiatus. The sisters ran with their father until he died. Now they're introducing the youngsters to a special society in which running rules and it's not a crime to draft on the speed of the person in front of you.
"We're a family," Rios said. "We support each other and cry with each other when we have problems."
The Wednesday Night Zoo Run is a staple in San Antonio for people from all walks of life. Professionals, amateurs, high school track teams, old and young run the 2-mile course. Regulars who have moved out of town stop in while visiting relatives for a reminiscence run. The unofficial and unorganized race continues until daylight-saving time ends.
Steve Smith, a local race organizer and former running columnist for the San Antonio Express-News, started the race in 1984 to promote fitness and running.
"The idea was to have fun," said Smith, 60. " It was better to have something in the middle of the week and not feel like they had to perform at a high level unless they wanted."
Family obligations forced Smith to move on, but fellow runners wouldn't let the race die. Volunteers haven't changed what Smith started.
The entry fee remains a $1 donation, with contributions going to the San Antonio Zoo.
Runners provide homemade dishes and beverages at the sign-up picnic table after each race. Participants sign up at 6:30 p.m.
First-, second- and third-place winners in four age categories receive a ribbon.
Challenges, besides finishing the route, abound for some runners. Some are recovering from illnesses; others have physical conditions they don't let limit their athletic pursuits.
Patrick Hernandez, 42, a deaf runner, focuses on his surroundings as he winds his way through the course. His biggest challenge was talking to his comrades. Since meeting Michael Shofner, 49, a runner who interprets for him, communicating isn't a problem.
The park's recent $7.5 million renovation included reworking trails that runners welcomed after years of dodging traffic on the roads.
Four course marshals fan out along the route before the race. They welcome runners with clapping hands and shouts of "Good job, good job!"
A marshal waits at the finish line, yelling times as racers dash by.
At the halfway mark a week earlier, Joan Bobrukiewiez, 57, pointed half a dozen runners to the last leg of the course.
"George, this is the corner you've been looking for!" she yelled to a man. "This is your corner, you're done!"
"Thank you, Joan," the huffing man said, turning toward the finish line.
Then came Julia Wilkerson, 74, a trim woman the regulars call the "matriarch of the racing community."
"She's the Energizer Bunny," Bobrukiewiez said. "She doesn't quit."
Wilkerson started running at 50 to lose weight. Six months later, she ran her first marathon.
Dave DeWall, 62, has run in the park since 1985. He and his cronies ran 5K races on weekends to increase their speed for the midweek run.
The last stragglers appeared.
"I got a cold drop of water here," DeWall said, smiling at an approaching runner. "You can swallow it or I can throw it in your face."
The runner chose the latter. DeWall splashed it in his face as he circled the last bend.