Thursday, July 14, 2011

The economics of place and running

It's ironic - one would think summer to be the best time to get out and go for a run. I'm here to tell you - that is just not the case. When the humidity hovers at 85 percent at 6 a.m., you can never have a good run. Why do you think most marathons are in the spring and fall? It's way easier to run a race once it's cooler. I, maybe stupidly, am running a half marathon in about 2½ weeks. I don't feel entirely prepared, but hey, it's only 13.1 miles, right? (I keep telling myself that hoping it seems less daunting.)

So while my runs have been more sluggish and I've been a little less focused, I've been doing a lot of reading this summer on both cities and running.  I'm STILL trying to figure out what race to do in the fall. At this point I'm leaning toward the Monster Dash in Chicago in October and then running the Austin Half Marathon in February.

I lived in Texas for a few years and spent a lot of time in Austin. It's a fantastic city with such a great energy.  It has a great live music scene, a vibrant and walkable downtown, lots to do and see...not to mention the best beef brisket you'll ever have. 

This got me thinking about what makes great cities great.  There's a new blog out there about the economics of place and how creation of places where people want to live, work and play is really an economic argument. As a runner I consider place in choosing races - I want to visit and run in a cool city.

Sure, if I'm running a 5k I'll pick something easy and convenient. But if I'm looking for a longer race, I research race routes and cities to pick the coolest city for us to visit and spend a weekend. And sometimes we get lucky and fall in love with an unexpected new place (Knoxville, Tennessee, for example.)

The economics of place is about creating places to live, work and play.  Organizing a great race falls right into this argument - if you have a great race, people will flock to your city to run a race there (Chicago and New York are perfect examples.) I can't wait to go to Austin again. In the time it took to write this, I believe I've made up my mind. Austin 2012! 

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