Promoting running, health, and community in Dripping Springs
Darkness veils the crisp November morning as road barricades, registration tables, and water stops appear along the Run by the Creek race route. There’s much to do before the starting gun fires at 8 A.M., but Steve Mallett, president of the Dripping Springs Running Club, is on hand to oversee preparations, along with fellow club members and dozens of volunteers. As the time draws near, nearly 500 participants young and old prep to take their place at the starting line for the 5K and 10K races. Hundreds of spectators hunker down to cheer on their loved ones while county constables keep an eye out for wayward vehicles.
Athletes, especially those seeking a qualifying time in the USA Track and Field-certified race, head to the front of the pack, while hobbyists and families with kids and dogs line up at the back. It’s a motley crew of runners, but that’s what makes the event special. “It’s a fun run, it’s a race, it’s a walk—it’s whatever anybody wants it to be,” Steve says. “Some people take it seriously, and others are just out having fun with their family—all of which is fine with us.”
But it isn’t a mere love of running that brings participants together. It’s the promise of a commemorative t-shirt, a kindred competitive spirit, and the knowledge that the entry fees help the community. “We don’t give all the money to one thing,” Steve says. “We see what the community needs are when the race is over and address them.”
In the past, these needs have included funding college scholarships for track and field athletes, supporting Project Graduation, and purchasing the high school cross-country team a pop-up tent customized with their logo to use at cross-country meets. Donations have also funded park improvements in the city of Dripping Springs and Hays County. The benches and improved trails at Dripping Springs Ranch Park are tangible proof of the club’s charity.
While being charitable makes people feel good, winning the race doesn’t hurt, either. The fastest female and male in the 5K and 10K receive a medal and a gift certificate, while first, second, and third place in thirteen age brackets receive custom medals.
To some participants, these simple rewards can have the most significance. “I received an emotional email from a woman who had been running for a while and had never won anything,” Steve recalls. “She won second place in her age group. She was thrilled to win a medal and get to come up and shake everyone’s hand to get it. She thought that was wonderful.”
By 10 A.M., barricades disappear as the last runner crosses the finish line. Now it’s time to think about next year’s race. The club must choose the event date, update the website and registration information, file paperwork with the city of Dripping Springs and Hays County for road closures, hire and coordinate police presence, and place promotional Facebook ads.
“It’s a lot of work,” Steve says, “but it’s so much fun. When you’re out there with your kids, pushing them in a stroller or walking with them down a pretty country road, you’re encouraging a healthy lifestyle. That’s what it’s all about—changing somebody’s life. When someone becomes a runner or lives a healthy lifestyle because of our event, that’s a huge success.”
Run by the Creek is an annual 5K and 10K race hosted by the Dripping Springs Running Club. The club’s mission is to promote running and healthy lifestyles in the community. To learn more or to volunteer with Run by the Creek or the Dripping Springs Running Club, visit runbythecreek.com or www.facebook.com/RunByTheCreek.