Earlier this month, I heard a television news anchor say, “You must be living under a rock if you don’t know the 43rd running of the Dallas Marathon is this weekend.”
And Sunday, Dec. 9, was indeed the 43rd running of the Dallas Marathon—known for the preceding 42 years as the Dallas White Rock Marathon. Billed as the city’s largest single-day sporting spectator event, the Dallas Marathon is a big-city, big-time, community-wide event.
Here are 10 facts about the event that you may find of interest:
1. The marathon was started in 1971 by Dallas’ most famous physician, Dr. Kenneth Cooper, so Dallas area runners could run another marathon besides Boston. It was run twice one year; hence, the 2012 event was No. 43.
2. In 1971, about 100 runners entered; this year, the combined events drew more than 23,000 participants—almost 30,000 if you count Saturday’s race.
3. Its economic impact on the city is impressive: More than $10 million. As in years past, there were runners from most every state and at least 10 countries. It sold out the host hotel—the Hyatt Regency—and several other downtown hotels as well.
4. There were nearly 4,000 volunteers and 350 Dallas city police working the event. Entertainment was provided by about 40 bands that volunteered their Sunday morning for free t-shirts and a case of beer.
5. This year, there was a new course that crossed over into West Dallas, and across the new Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. This 2-mile leg was named by the residents as the “West Dallas Loop.” Thanks to the efforts of Randall White, the chairman of West Dallas Chamber of Commerce, there were more than 40 entertainment, food, and drink venues spread out over 2 miles. It was party central for the runners and spectators.
6. On Saturday morning, West Dallas hosted the “Mayor’s Race,” a 5-K/1-K run/walk started nine years ago by then-Mayor Laura Miller. The event was designed to attract DISD students, staff, and their families for a free morning of exercise, fun, and fellowship. Nine years ago there were approximately 200 participants; last Saturday, almost 6,000—including at least 4,500 DISD students. The Dallas marathon provided more than 100 schools buses stationed all over South Dallas to pick up and bring the students and their teachers to the event. Miller ran the 5-K in a very respectable 25 minutes; current Mayor Rawlins was just a tad behind her—at about 40 minutes (not bad for a big defensive end from Boston College.)
7. The Dallas Marathon is a nonprofit organization run by a 40-member board; it has only three full-time employees. (Many of the big time races around the country are “for profit.”) The marathon’s primary charity is the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. Last year, the marathon, under the chairmanship of former Stemmons Award winner, Phil Baker, gave the hospital a $1 million donation.
8. The Health and Fitness Expo, which runs Friday through Saturday before the marathon, attracted more than 40,000, making it one of the largest expos of its kind in Texas.
9. The marathon was broadcast live for three hours on WFAA (Channel 8) and streamed worldwide on WFAA.com. The show is produced by the Emmy-awarding, Dallas-based, Silverhorn Productions. It’s hosted by Todd Whitthorne, the former host of Good Morning Texas who’s now president of Cooper Concepts (of the Dr. Kenneth Cooper empire.) Todd’s co-host, Julie Henner-Benson, is a cross country coach at the U.S. Air Force Academy and 1996 Olympian in the 1,500 meters. The two have handled the broadcast for the last six years.
10. Lastly, think about the marathon’s motto: Great Race. Great City. Great Cause. We may have lost the Rangers and the Cowboys to Arlington. But for 42 years, Dallas has hosted a premier running event that now represents so much more to the city.
So, when the 44th event comes around this same time next year, and you are stopped in the Sunday morning race day traffic, think of the marathon as more than just the individual athletic achievement it represents for each runner. Think of it as a city-wide event for a great charity. Sit by the side of the road, sip your coffee, and cheer loud and proud: Run Dallas, Run!
Chuck Dannis is co-founder of Crosson Dannis Inc. He’s also chairman emeritus of the Dallas Marathon. Contact him at email@example.com.