The City Council of Pawtucket will be voting next week to ban all road races, unless they take place in their City Park. This ban includes all races, no matter how long or who is involved. This vote seems to be happening without many of the Pawtucket residents knowing anything about it.
Pawtucket hosts a number of wonderful road races each year – or at least, they did. The Blackstone Valley Half was a well attended event for nearly 10 years, the St. Patrick’s 5k is their biggest, and the beloved PawSox have their own race that begins and ends in their historic ballpark. There are many other smaller races that also will be constrained to the limits of the City Park, or will just go away entirely.
Road races do cause some traffic delays and can be an inconvenience to those local residents. Most Race Directors work closely with their local municipalities to minimize the disruption with careful route planning and advance notice to residents. And yes, we have seen an increase in the number of road races that occur each year. But that number is on the decline. As mentioned above, Pawtucket no longer hosts any half marathons or longer, Providence only hosts one event longer than a 5k. Other races are falling by the wayside as well due to increased costs, competition and municipality regulations.
If this ordinance passes, it may set a precedent for other “inconveniences.” The benefits from road races far outweigh a few extra minutes to your commute. The money raised for charity, the economic benefit are all in the thousands. The promotion of a healthy lifestyle, where you accomplish some life long goals, the community and sense of pride from showcasing your locality. These are all non-monetary benefits as well.
Everyone has a reason for toeing the line, has their story which caused them to sign up and train – often for months, in the cold and dark. Running a marathon or half marathon is no easy task – and everyone has their reason why. Perhaps you just beat cancer and you want to celebrate your newfound health, you are looking to test your courage and sense of self with a longer distance, maybe you are running for someone who no longer can, or enjoying a great bonding experience with a friend or family member. As race directors, we get to hear some AMAZING stories as to your reasons why – we are inspired by so many of you. We truly believe that the happiest place on earth is the finish line as so many goals and dreams are achieved there.
But yes, the chasing of these goals and dreams may affect others in their path. There are still times when residents may have a delay due to something out of the ordinary happening in their normal travel – this can include construction, funerals, parades, festivals and road races.
In our modern times, we have become so rushed and focused on getting it all done, that we forget that there are inconveniences in life that slow us down and take us off our course. Particularly those for the better of our community as a whole – events, construction, parades and races. It is par for being part of a larger community. There was even a recent study that traffic delays caused by marathons save lives. đź™‚
There are certain protocols that can be put in place to ensure residents are given ample notice of the race and to work around any delays that may occur. There are compromises to be struck with some of the existing races, for example, if you would like to keep a cap on the number of events the city will hold – sort of like a limit on the number of liquor licenses, etc. There are ways to work through the inconvenience rather than just a blanket ban on all races.
Yes – some changes likely can be made on both ends – but working towards a solution for residents and runners can be found.
Feel free to write the Council Members of Pawtucket and let them know how your feel about this ordinance. Contact information is available on their website - http://www.pawtucketri.com/city-council