Criteria For A T-Shirt Event

The last few days we’ve been debating whether or not to do this year’s Downtown Christmas Run, a local 5k-ish run through – you guessed it – downtown Shreveport that occurs at night, so you get to see all the Christmas lights. Used to be the mere fact that an event featured a t-shirt, as this one does, would have been enough to get me to do it. My first t-shirt event was a mountain bike race three buddies and I entered on a whim in college. We called the shirts our “I’m a stud shirts.” Since then, I’ve added too many to count, meaning the shirts no longer have the draw they once did. Now I need better reasons to enter a t-shirt event.

The problem with these events, of course, is that they require me to pay money to do something I would probably be doing anyway. Tonight, for instance, I’m planning on running four or five miles after work. It’ll be through my neighborhood, which has plenty of Christmas lights. Or I could drop thirty bucks and do the same thing downtown. The only real difference is the money. So I need some kind of incentive to get me to spend it, and like I said, the t-shirt no longer has the same pull it once did.

After some thinking, I’ve got a few criteria in mind. I need to emphasize, though, that these criteria are in addition to a t-shirt. It ought to go without saying that a t-shirt, even if insufficient to make an organized event worthwhile, is still the sine qua non of an organized event. It doesn’t matter how well it does in the rest of the criteria, a bike ride without a t-shirt may as well be my normal Saturday morning ride. That said . . .

One, the event needs to be something different. Our local century, the Tour de Goodwill, loses big on this one, featuring the same basic bike routes everyone rides every week. Routes that are not only boring, but even dangerous (Highways 5 and 175). The Christmas run, though, scores well here. I don’t run downtown often, and certainly not when you can see Christmas lights.

Two, the event ought to be significant. The Christmas run is only a 5k. By the time we load ourselves and the kids into the van and head down there, and then pack up and drive back, we’ll spend more time in the car than we will on the course, and we only live five miles from downtown. With rare exceptions, I need at least a 10k for the hassle to be worth it.

Three, it needs to be a really well organized and popular event. I don’t want to show up for a century and find twenty five other people, so that I end up doing a solo century. Running is similar, half the fun is the crowd. I want great post-event food and entertainment, too. I’ve never done the Christmas run, so I do not know how it fares here. The Firecracker 5k, however, is a big winner.

Four, a good cause helps. I don’t feel like I’m spending the money to do something I would anyway if the money is actually going to a charity. This is pretty much the only reason to do the Tour de Goodwill. Tonight, though, has no special meaning of which I am aware.

Finally, the weather needs to be good. Yes, I am a fair weather t-shirt event man. Remember, I can either go for a run and freeze my a** off for free, or pay thirty bucks to do the same. Tonight, it’ll be a little cold. The problem is worse for us because we want to run with the kids in the jogger. Add in the notoriously vague start times for running events in Shreveport (it says 6:45, but it will be at least 15 minutes late) and we could stand around in the cold for half an hour before the run even starts. No fun.

Overall, then, tonight’s event doesn’t make the cut. Too short and too cold outweigh the novelty. To anyone who thinks differently, though, have fun.

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