Three years of rain tough on RTH participation

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 4, 2002

[03/02/02]For the last three years, the Run Thru History has been more like the “Rain Thru History.”

Rain in the days leading up to the race has kept the number of runners down each of the last three years, and this year figures to follow the recent trend with forecasts called for rain continuing through this morning.

While the rain fills local rivers and creeks, it’s draining the budget of the RTH.

Hays Latham, the RTH entries chairman and treasurer, said bad weather typically keeps 200-300 people away. At $25 per entry, that adds up in a hurry.

“We lose about $3,000 per run every time it rains,” RTH chairman Mack Varner said. “Rain year after year makes us lose entrants, so two or three years in a row, that hurts.”

Sponsors help make up some of the shortfall and cuts to the number of prizes ordered offset more of it. There is also a plan to sell leftover race T-shirts in the days after the RTH.

Varner said instead of ordering shoddier prizes, however, the committee simply orders fewer of them.

“This year, because we got left holding the bag so much last year, we cut down about 200 shirts and bags. It looks like we made the right decision,” Varner said. “We just cut back. We’re still going to offer the same amenities we’ve always done.”

Despite today’s forecast, Latham said this year’s numbers were surprisingly high. Between 1,000 and 1,100 people are registered for the 10K run, 5K walk and 1-mile fun run.

“I think it is (good), because this is the third year in a row that it’s rained. With the weather, that’s good,” Latham said.

The real crunch will be felt in a couple of years, Latham added. He said the RTH puts aside money from successful races to offer an extra “goody” for anniversary races every five years. For the 20th RTH in 1999, a blue gym bag was given to race participants.

With the string of storms that have plagued the RTH since then, it will make it tougher to offer the extra items in 2004, Latham said.

“We’re building up for that 25th year,” Latham said. “We need to have something good in two years.”