One of San Antonio’s most popular homegrown half marathons and wellness events is returning next month. Now in its fifth year, the H-E-B Alamo Run Fest will draw thousands of runners and health aficionados to the Alamodome on April 1 and 2 to participate in four different downtown races and promote city-wide health and wellness.

As the city’s running community has grown over recent years, local fitness enthusiasts like H-E-B Alamo Run Fest Co-Director Carl Owens have yearned for a large-scale, hometown event that combines running and local San Antonio flavor. Owens and his team created the Alamo Run Fest to be just that, allowing the city to join the company of other large Texas cities, such as Houston and Austin, which both have half marathons that portray unique characteristics of each city.

“We’ve tried to create [Alamo Run Fest] with a vision of putting on something the city of San Antonio is going to take a lot of pride in,” Owens said. “It can become a tradition.”

This year’s event will benefit Returning Heroes Home, which supports wounded and sick military members and their families. Fest organizers anticipate the 2017 program to be the biggest one yet, with a goal of doubling last year’s $35,000 in funds raised, Owens said.

Alamo Run Fest includes the Alamo Half Marathon, the Alamo 10K, Alamo 5K, the H-E-Buddy Run, Walk, and Roll 1K, and the Alamo Expo, a free health, fitness, and wellness event both days at the Alamodome. Course maps for each race can be found here.

The Alamo Half Marathon is unique since it is the only race in the city that starts and ends inside the Alamodome. This year’s route winds through downtown, passing landmarks such as the Tower of the Americas, the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, the San Antonio Museum of Art, and the Pearl Brewery. The course also is the only one in the city that passes through Fort Sam Houston, one of several ways the event engages the local military community.

Credit: Courtesy of H-E-B Alamo Run Fest

Since San Antonio is known as Military City, USA, it was a no-brainer to include Fort Sam in the festivities and make the event true to the city’s historic fabric.

“What we’ve found is a lot of folks haven’t been on Fort Sam since 9/11,” Owens said. “There’s a lot of history that we run by there. It’s a beautiful base and one of the best historically preserved bases in the country.”

While the run fest is not specifically for the local military population, Owens explained, it has always provided active military discounted registration rates and featured a special military subdivision in the race results.

“We’ve always included the military as part of our foundation,” Owens said.

Race organizers also have placed more emphasis on the local special needs community by expanding the H-E-Buddy kids race into the Run, Walk, and Roll 1K. With partners such as Morgan’s Wonderland, the 1K has transformed from solely a kids run into an “ultra accessible” event for kids and adults with special needs. It’s all part of the Alamo Run Fest’s goal of being one of the most accessible and inclusive running events in the country, Owens said.

H-E-B has been a sponsor of the race since its inception, but this year the grocery giant’s presence in the festivities will increase. Its annual Health and Wellness Family Expo will be merged into the Alamo Expo, which will feature seminars, fitness and health tips, and even free glucose health assessments by University Health System. With the prevalence of diabetes and obesity in San Antonio, the expo aims to bring free health resources to residents in and outside the urban core.

The expo also will be the site of the 2017 H-E-B Slim Down Showdown finale. Since January, 28 contestants from all over Texas have entered the weight loss competition with the hopes of “hitting the reset button” on their health and potentially winning cash prizes for their efforts. This year’s four winners will be announced at the Alamo Expo during the Slim Down Showdown closing ceremony at 12:30 p.m.

Owens said he anticipates the Alamo Run Fest to continue to grow, and with it San Antonio’s exposure on the national level. He hopes for the event to grow to such acclaim as the internationally popular Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, while still maintaining the local flair that makes San Antonio so special.

“We’ve tried to build something that has the platform and the foundation to grow,” Owens said. “What we have right now – the route, the venue – has the footprint to grow into a major [race].”

Camille Garcia

Camille Garcia is a journalist born and raised in San Antonio. She formerly worked at the San Antonio Report as assistant editor and reporter. Her email is camillenicgarcia@gmail.com