I have been at and writing about running events for the past several years and never had paid attention to who is in charge of which running event I went to. I just figured there were people, runners and non-runners, behind every running event. A week ago my daughter Christina had invited me to a get-together that the Big Hammock Race Series was putting on. She is part of this race series and said her husband Alex, was going to win something from running several races in this series running events. My daughter thought I would want to come, write about it and become a member of this Big Hammock race series.
I had assumed that all the running events we attended this past year and which were local to Marion County, were individually run by different companies, but after this gathering I see I was wrong. The Big Hammock Series seems to be the umbrella for many of these running events within the county and some surrounding counties to Ocala Florida. During this season #2 party I found that the Big Hammock Race Series is run by only two ladies. Their names are Karen Donnelly and Tina banner.
My family and I were all exited going to this event and when we got there we saw many happy faces, along with lots of exciting energy of all the runners and their guest. It was really cool. The day before I went, I searched online the Big Hammock Race Series website to read about the event. One of the things it said was to wear your favorite race shirt but during the rush I noticed none of us put one on and we all own several shirts we received from races.
When the runners, who are members of the Big hammock Race Series, and their spouses/families arrived they would sign in, get drink tickets and then go inside the CenterState Bank where it was held. The inside of CenterState bank was all laid out beautifully and the race series had the food, which was catered by MoJo Grill of ocala, in a separate room which was roomy. Servers from MoJo Grill was there to help anyone who could not serve themselves and to assist in drinks and food. It was almost like going to an all you can eat restaurant and the food was delicious.
Inside they also had two tables laid out for signing up new members and to do a survey which gave the race series host much needed information for future races. Members who filled out the survey were given a few tickets in which they had a chance to win a comforter which had designs of all the season 2 races. That comforter was beautiful. Chairs were laid out in a semi-circle for people to sit in and the front center was for the host and giveaways which were laid out on a few long tables.
After the majority of people had food the two host started their presentation. There were quite a few people in this building so when the host started talking they had to shush the many talkers that were enjoying this event. Several times during the presentation there were still people rudely talking louder than the host but I guess that’s life. Now imagine everyone excited and having fun then within the next few minutes the two host burst the happy bubbles of the members with this announcement.
Karen Donnelly started explaining what it takes to organize the running events and all the work that goes into them like getting sponsors, buying medals, picking out shirts and more. Then to the surprise of everyone they announce that they were taking a leave of absence for 6 months and then would get back into making a season 3. Both host say besides raising a family, work and activities it takes them both about 20 hours per week, every week, to keep the Big Hammock Race Series going. They claimed they only had a limited amount of people who would volunteer to help this non-profit business but I think they did not put as much effort into getting people to help as they did in getting sponsors and other things needed to keep this race series going.
This is only my opinion, which was based on the outpour of members going up to them after the event offering their services. Anyways, after the announcement the rest of the event went terrific. Members and their families were having a great time and the awards and giveaways went smooth. There were runners who ran in every race the series had to offer and some runners who ran only a select number of races. Beautiful mugs and running accessories were a big hit and lots of pictures were taken. The event ended with a trainer of Karen’s along with other members who is known as Pez pitched her training business and gave some good advice.
For me never to have been a part of the Big Hammock race Series or attended their parties it was a bit of surprise as well as being a lot of fun. If in fact they do continue this race series in 2018 I will be sure to join this race series and hopefully be able to help out where needed. There are many different racing events coming up from now (July) to the end of the year and I am looking forward to running in them and writing about my experience. I definitely recommend anyone who wants to live a healthier life, wants to have fun and enjoys the outside to join the Big Hammock Race Series here in Ocala Florida.