Hugh Donagher

Citing excessive costs for policing, and resistance to requisite road closures, the organizers of the Commitment Day 5K scheduled for New Year’s Day have moved the event from the downtown course that was originally announced. The start time is also now 90 minutes earlier – a puzzling shift. The event will now kick off at 8:30 a.m. in the parking lot of Lifetime Fitness at the Rim at 5639 Worth Parkway. Participants will walk and run a course down Vance Jackson and back to the Lifetime Fitness parking lot. Registration will open at 6:30 a.m.

These changes are not insignificant. The original plan was much better. The 10 a.m. start acknowledged the late-night nature of New Year’s Eve celebrations and removed the first objection many would raise to participating in an event like this on New Year’s Day — an early morning start. Even those who might normally take an 8:30 a.m. start in stride might think twice about signing up for one on New Year’s morning. This scheduling change runs counter to the event’s stated goal of encouraging everyone — particularly those who need it most — to take action in creating a healthier lifestyle.

[For more information about the event and Hugh’s personal health goals, read his previous article, The “New” New Years Resolution: Commitment Day.]

The change of venue also raises a number of questions. Why did the city allow this event to move out of downtown, when it seems so well-aligned with the SA2020 Health and Fitness goals? Why were event organizers not fully prepared for the costs before setting and accepting registration fees? Why had they not arranged for the requisite road closures before announcing a downtown course? Is it not strange that the event ended up starting and ending in the parking lot of one of its corporate sponsors? And finally, why are those of us who registered based on the originally-announced details not being offered refunds now that everything has changed? Despite reaching out to the local event organizer, I’ve not been able to get answers.

Southtown/Downtown New Years Day 5k, by Hugh Donagher

Having said all this, I plan to honor the intent of the Commitment Day — committing to a healthier lifestyle in 2013 and beyond — even without participating in the official event. I will be joining a number of my friends and neighbors to walk a 5K route we’ve mapped out around downtown and Southtown. We’ll be meeting at 10:00 a.m., so everyone can ring in the New Year at midnight and still get a good eight hours of sleep first.

We can all walk, run or bike — alone, or with friends and neighbors — wherever we are. We can do it in our neighborhoods or in our city parks or along the River Walk. Whether you participate in the official Commitment Day event, or do your own thing, I encourage you to make a commitment to your health, and kick off the New Year with a step (or two) in the right direction by getting out there on New Year’s Day and walking, running or biking 5K!

Hugh Donagher builds web sites and consults on social media strategy for small businesses and nonprofit organizations in the neighborhood and beyond. He occasionally blogs at Texas Yankeeand Alamo City Cocktails. He and his partner are charter members of the Southtown Lions Club and they can be found out and about at many of the establishments and events going on in Southtown.

Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org