I just found out that the Road Runner's Club of America designated Pensacola as a "Runner Friendly City." I think the ranking is correct, but I'm not sure I agree about the reasons why. Here's what RRCA has to say about my current running residence:
Pensacola, FL – The Pensacola Runners Association call Pensacola home. They have an established route known locally as “The Airport Loop”. Starting at The Roger Scott Park, the loop winds around The Pensacola Regional Airport and contains plenty of parking, restrooms, water fountains, and even a dog park. There’s also a community track that is open to the public, well-lit, and properly maintained.My analysis of their writeup:
The PRA actively engages the community by approaching area businesses one-on-one to discuss their support as a sponsor for one of the PRA’s 10 events. Businesses typically donate their time by asking employees to volunteer and their money to help cover expenses that normally wouldn’t have been possible.
If you’re ever in the area, McGuires Irish Pub offers a Tuesday night 5K run in which it offers a buffet and beverage discounts. Every March, they produce the St. Patrick’s Day Prediction, billed as the “world’s largest” prediction run where over 10,000 participants enjoy a 5K Run/Walk.
There are gender-neutral, youth running programs that are hosted in the community. Local schools have a track/cross country team and the PRA hosts a club for the local youth.
Pensacola has a special events coordinator that assists organizations or individuals interested in producing running events. The City also provides a traffic officer to review the route and assign officers to assist in traffic control. The city hosts over 30 running events annually.
Community leaders who provided support and letters of recommendation include Jehan Clark, President of the Pensacola Runners Association; Jeff Schmitt, Associate Director of Recreation and Athletic Facilities; Kimberly Kaminski, Special Events Coordinator of Pensacola; and Ashton Hayward, Mayor of Pensacola.
- Ok. The Airport Loop exists, but it's boring. Whatever. And what runner in their right mind would run through a dog park??? I don't know about you, but I try to avoid dogs while running.
- The PRA does excellent work. No dispute there.
- McGuire's run club is fantastic. I think I've mentioned that before. Maybe more than once.
- I have no kids. I have no idea. I assume this is true.
- 30 running events and a coordinator for races? That is pretty awesome. I learned something from the article!
- Who cares? Maybe I'm jaded after a decade of working in the public sector, but mayors sign all sorts of letters without really caring about the issue. If it's good PR, they'll sign. BIG DEAL.
- They missed Running Wild, and all the work that store does to support the local running community. (Seriously, I've lived other places. I've never seen anything like this... Running Wild hosts several group runs each week, sponsors run clubs, organizes transportation to and from races, organizes volunteers at races, encourages runners to use their store for restroom breaks on their long runs... If that's not love, I don't know what is!)
- They missed the Hash House Harriers clubs that call Pensacola home.
- They missed all the other pub-sponsored group runs... The Seville Quarter Milers, the Helen Back Pensacola Run Club, and half a dozen others that I'm missing (see list here).
Would you rank your city a "runner friendly city?"
Why? (Or why not?)