Common thought may be that holidays strictly are reserved for visiting friends and family, big meals and maybe a nap on the couch afterward.
And in this case, common thought is correct.
But there are many other options on America’s major holidays, especially if you’re a road racer. And that is particularly true here in southeast Louisiana.
As someone who has followed and covered local racing for more than two decades, I have spent many Thanksgiving mornings covering some of the area’s finest road runners. I’ve also covered major local races on Father’s Day and others in the general proximity of New Year’s Day, Mardi Gras, Easter and more.
Great events all, I would say.
Here on the north shore, Independence Day is a major racing day for locals. The 15th Street Flyers Running Club has made it so.
The Covington-based organization holds its annual Four on the 4th Race every July Fourth. The 4-mile race begins and ends at Hubie Gallagher Park in downtown Covington, and at least 400 people show up each year to take part in the festivities.
That’s saying something, considering people are willing to get up before dawn to run 4 miles on the Fourth of July.
Why? Because post-race, they all will have joined with friends and family, and will be hanging out well into the dim hours of the evening, waiting for a fireworks show or taking one last dip in the pool as the sun drops below the horizon.
Diane Weiss, a chief organizer of the 15th Street Flyers’ running activities, said she knows why Four on the 4th is a popular event.
“We do it in typical party fashion, so it’s not your everyday road race,” she said. “We have a doughnut-eating contest, a push-up contest. We have costuming and encourage all people to wear red, white and blue. We have all the things you find at a south Louisiana race — good food, cold beer, music. This is an athletic event, but it’s also a party.”
That’s evident through the 16 years the race has been staged. But the focus remains on patriotism, as well as aiming to help the local community. Weiss noted that a group of participants bicycle from Mandeville to the race each year and they bring giant American flags that hover over the racers as they begin their 4-mile journey into the neighborhoods surrounding Hubie Gallagher Park. There also is a half-mile race for kids after the main event.
All proceeds from race entry fees benefit the Covington YMCA, the Covington Recreation Department, the Road Runners Club of America’s Kids Run the Nation Program, as well as local first-responders in the police and fire departments.
“We started this 16 years ago as a kids’ recreation event, really,” Weiss said. “It has evolved into one of the biggest races on the north shore. And we’re glad for that.”
For more information, race results, club weekly runs and registration for upcoming events, visit www.15thstreetflyers.com.
Andrew Canulette covers recreation and leisure activities for the St. Tammany Advocate. To reach him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.