Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Different Side of Running

On Saturday,  George and I will be running in the BRMS Crazy Coyote Chase 5k and Gracie will be doing the kids one mile fun run.  I have been looking forward to this for a few reasons.  My kids will be running, you can dress up, and there is a kids tent so I will not have to worry about Gracie, while George and I run.  That's a win, win for everyone!

It turns out that the race director, Karen Binniker, attends the same church as I do.  Karen and her family are only in Rhode Island a short time, as her husband is in the Coast Guard.  It has been nice getting to know her a little and I was thrilled that she agreed to answer a few questions about the Coyote Chase and race directing.  So here goes...

Most of my readers are running mommies.  Do you have a family?  How do you balance work and family? 

I am the proud mother of two awesome boys.  Being a Coast Guard family, we move quite a bit and since we’re only in Rhode Island for a year, I figured the best job I could take on was being available for my family in our new home.  Just trying to balance home has been a unique challenge, but one that I strive to accomplish each new day… keeps me from getting bored, I suppose!  Nothing boring about staying home with the kids!  It can be challenging but I would never give it up.  
Karen and her very handsome family!

Are you a runner?  How long? If so, tell us about your best run or favorite distance?

I don’t know if I would define myself as a runner, per se.  My best friend suckered me into doing a 5K at our college alma mater [Christopher Newport University] for my 35th birthday.  Since then, we have participated in several charity events involving running, walking and other such fitness minded, good-for-the-soul activities. 

It is hard to choose a “favorite” since they each involved doing something good for me while also benefitting others.  If I’m hard pressed, I’d have to say the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in Washington, D.C. – a 39.3 mile walk to bring awareness and support to the plight of breast cancer patients, survivors and warriors.  Three years in a row, we ventured out on the streets of D.C. among thousands of other participants, some breast cancer survivors, some families honoring a lost loved one and still others who were adamant about the cause of defeating breast cancer. The event is held over the course of two days and involves a marathon distance on Day One and a half-marathon distance on Day Two.  It was an adventure of the mind, the body and certainly the spirit!  That is just awesome! What a great experience.  And I am sure a lot of us can relate to that one friend who suckered us into that first 5k, LOL.

Beyond that, I would have to say my next favorite run was the Shamrock Half Marathon in VA Beach, VA.  I never, ever thought I would be capable of completing such a running distance.  It may not have been pretty, but we finished and had a great time doing so!  Congrats on finishing the half.  The Shamrock Half is on my bucket list and I hope to cross it off next year.
Karen and her best friend at the Avon Walk.
How did you get involved with race planning? Is this your first time planning a race?

The first time I got involved with race planning was back in 2008.  We lived in Northern VA and the school our kids attended was working on a 5K & 1-mile fun run that was in its third or fourth year. I served as the Sponsorship Chair for the race that year.  The following year came around and I ended up serving as the race director.  When we moved to Alabama, we were members of the Bounds Family YMCA.  I served on the Board of Directors and as we were brainstorming ways to benefit their then Strong Kids Campaign, the Superhero 5K was born.  While I’ve participated in several, this is about the fourth time I’ve been involved in race planning.

How many people are involved in putting this together?

Planning a 5K involves a number of dedicated volunteers over at least a 9-month period.  For the CrAzY CoYoTe ChAsE, we have been extremely blessed with a group of 10-15 parent volunteers who have been extremely helpful in a number of ways.  In this case, our planning committee consists of a Race Director, Sponsorship Chair, Marketing Chair, T-shirt Chair, Race Packet Chair, Road Safety Chair, Kids’ Korner Chair and a Volunteer Coordinator.  We have a group of people who are working very well together towards a common goal… benefitting the students and community of Broad Rock Middle School.  With shrinking educational budgets, school PTO’s are taking on more and more financial fundraising efforts to continue to provide for our students. 

Tell us a little about the BRMS Crazy Coyote Chase.  What can runners expect?  How would you describe the course?  Will we be chased by a Coyote?

The CrAzY CoYoTe ChAsE came about at a brainstorming session during a PTO meeting.  “CrAzY” because is makes it more interesting and “CoYoTe” because that is the school mascot for Broad Rock Middle School.

We are using a race course that has been used in the past by SK C.A.R.E.S.. Actually, they were very generous to share in the cost of having the course USATF certified with us this year.  It is a looped course that starts and finishes at Broad Rock Middle School.  There is still speculation that a rogue coyote might make an appearance on race day, but it has not yet been confirmed… J

One of the things I am excited about is the Kids Corner.  Something I have never seen or heard of before at a race.  How did you come up with this idea?  Who will be supervising the kids?  What will the kids be doing while we race? 

The Kids’ Corner was born of an idea that I had several years ago.  We lived in a neighborhood where many of the families were military and quite often, one of the spouses was deployed. We thought it would be nice to provide free, on-site child care for those who might not otherwise do the race due to conflicts in finding babysitters for their children.  In addition, it was nice to give parents the opportunity to bring their kids along to a family-friendly, fitness focused event and expose them to the value and importance of being in good health and doing something for others in the community.

Our Kids’ Corner will be supervised by several of the YMCA staff.  The beauty of having them as volunteers is that everyone is CPR certified and background safety checked as well.  The kids will have their pick of what they would like to do while mom or dad are on the race course.  Various activities will be available to them such as basketball, hula hoops, tattoos, drawing and perhaps an organized craft as well.

This race looks fun and I love that you are encouraging everyone to dress up.  Will you be dressed up too?  Will your family be participating?

Thank you so much!  We thought the CrAzY would be fun in that so many people seem to be drawn towards sporting tutus and silly costumes at runs these days.  We thought it might make our race stand out and be memorable among so many other similar events in the area.  I’m not sure if my kids are up for wearing tutus, but I might be seen in one on race day!  Very fun!

Looks like you have some pretty great sponsors.  What's the secret to getting companies to get involved?

We have seen outstanding support from our community.  I believe that business owners in the area want to support families and youth as much as possible.  I think the key to getting people on board is being able to offer a win-win for everyone.  Quite often, it seems that if we can provide a venue wherein they can highlight their company among a captive audience, it’s an easier sell.  We provide several incentives to our sponsors such as exposure on our website, Facebook page, Twitter feed, Race t-shirts and the finish line banner.  There are several more ways we try to provide for our sponsors while they are supporting our efforts.  More information is available at our race website at http://br.skschools.net/pto/CCC.

Please share here anything you think I missed either about you, race directing and/or the race itself.

Thanks so much for the opportunity to highlight some of the “behind-the-scenes” about our race.  We are looking forward to a great day of fun among our participants, sponsors and runners alike!  Please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any other questions, concerns, comments or suggestions!

Thank you Karen, that was very insightful and now I am even more excited!  I look forward to seeing you on Saturday. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.  I know the Crazy Coyote Chase will be a huge success!

Run Strong, Think Big!  Beep, Beep! ~ Nicole


  1. Sounds like an awesome day for you, George and Gracie. Wii Mr. RWM be taking pictures?

    1. Thanks, not sure if he will make it to this one.

  2. Fun interview and great to see the other side of races :)

  3. Great interview! I love a race organized with kids in mind!

  4. Sounds like a fun event! Have a great time:)