There is so much history behind the Decker Challenge. In this spotlight, Rose Marie Hagman shares where it all began!
Back in the early to mid 70s there was essentially one running group that people joined for companionship for running various distances. The Austin Runners Club hosted monthly fun runs. In February of 1978, we organized the run. We decided to host the event at Decker Lake. The start was in front of the World famous Hog Eye Bait shop.
Since it was February, we made valentine hearts and gave away valentine candy as part of the awards for the top male and female finishers. We placed signs along the route to give the runners some humor along the course. We placed one specifically at the bottom of Bloor Road that stated “for every up hill, there’s a downhill” but little did they know that the road would continue straight up for at least another mile! Another sign stated “Rest stop ahead”! But it really wasn’t because it was the site of an old cemetery across the road. No one really thought it was funny!
Since it was such a successful fun run, it was decided that the run would become a club event in November/December time frame to coincide with marathon training. Runners had a choice of running one loop (11 miles) called the single decker or running it twice (22 miles) called the double decker. The runners club found sponsors – one of them being a jewelry store which donated small silver bowls to award the overall and age group winners. The post race party included beer and barbecue! It was a very popular well attended event and the tradition began! The weather throughout the y ears has been memorable with warm and humid conditions with drizzle as well as running through wet, cold and windy conditions.
Back in the late 70s, the Heritage center had not yet been built but we were allowed to hold the event at the park at Decker Lake. There are so many great memories and stories over the years. We can only hope that the tradition of the Decker Challenge will continue for many years to come.
Thanks for sharing Rose! The 2018 Decker Challenge Half Marathon will take place December 9th, 2018. Register now!