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Increase In National, Out-Of-State Running Events In Wichita Concerning Local Groups

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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Sunday, July 21, 2013

A growing number of running events in Wichita put on by out-of-state companies is concerning some local organizations.

The fear is these events may be taking away from local races, many of which donate all proceeds to area charities.

"I've heard of (local) races that are down," said Kenton Hansen, who is working with a coalition to take a look at the issue. "I can only imagine it would affect it."

In fact, race organizers say some local races are down between 10 to 15 percent. It's hard to say whether the increase in national races are entirely to blame, but organizers say those races do appear to be a factor in the decline.

"When these big races come in, they take numbers away so the pot is smaller now," said Alex Umberger, General Manager of GoRun Wichita.

A test is upcoming on October 5th when local race Rosstoberfest (which benefits Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy) and national race Color Vibe run fall on the same day.

In past five years, the demand for these "themed" national races, many of which involve runners wearing certain costumes or having colored corn starch being thrown at them, has grown leaps and bounds.

But local groups say the downside is most of these national races don't use local businesses for T-shirts and medals and they say that most of the time, only a very small percentage of the profits go to local charities and stay in Wichita.

"I felt like it needed to be known, the information needs to be out there how much money was leaving the Wichita community with these national races," Hansen said.

Hansen is part of a growing coalition of business leaders, non-profit organizations, race directors, runners, and others coming together to explore the issue.

He says they don't want people to think there's anything wrong with attending national races they're interested in. And he says, they recognize these races help people get active and get interested in the sport of running.

He says the coalition's goal is simply to provide people with information about the races and where the entrance fees are going so people can make an educated decision about which races to support.

"We feel we are not alone in the idea that we want to support something that keeps money local," Hansen said.

Hansen and other coalition members have begun to brainstorm ideas. Those include giving races a rating based on their local benefits and how much they donate to local charities. They've talked about publicizing that rating and information on a race calendar or directory.

"If that information is out there, the general public has that knowledge, has that decision, alright this is where my $40, $50, is going," Umberger said.

In the end, that's what Hansen says he and others are after:

"Basically information for the consuming public to (be able to) make the best decision they can," Hansen said.

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Editor's note: Hansen says the coalition is looking for more people to join from all different walks of life who want to share ideas. The group will next meet on August 8th. We will update this web story with the exact time and location when we receive that information.


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