Toga Run draws participants for a good cause
More than 140 people zigzagged through the Olympia Hills Golf Course in the dark Friday, taking part in an annual 5K run for a good cause.
The fifth annual Roaming the Hills of Olympia 5K Toga Run followed the cart path from the 10th to the 18th holes on the Olympia Hills Golf and Conference Center golf course after sundown. Runners wore headlamps and glow rings while maneuvering a course that was well-marked and manned by dozens of volunteers.
Race organizer Regina Carmona, Universal City events coordinator, was exhausted but elated by the successful turnout. A post-race patio party saw prizes awarded to top finishers and to the best-dressed toga outfit amid food offerings from several Universal City businesses that sponsored the event, which benefits Special Olympics.
“It went really well, the best year yet,” Carmona said. “This isn’t your typical flat-ground San Antonio run. I ran the full 8K version a few years ago just to make sure that an average runner could do it.”
Many runners came decked out in togas, in keeping with the Olympia/Mount Olympus theme. Universal City residents Jenny Beavers and Utah Hamrick were among those wearing costumed togas.
Although this was her first time competing in this race, Beavers said she recently competed in a similar event.
“We just did one in Cincinnati and it was so much fun,” Beavers said. “We’re from Universal City, and we’re just here for fun. This is our own little fun run.”
Hamrick has golfed the Olympia Hills course but never entered the race before this year’s event.
“I have not done this race before, but am looking forward to it. I enjoy running, but I am not competitive in the least,” Hamrick said.
The starting line was adjacent to the Olympia Hills golf course parking lot. On Carmona’s countdown start, the 140 runners and walkers took off toward the golf path that leads to the 10th hole. From there, runners wound twice around the course before finishing up by the 18th hole, just downhill from the conference center.
The first runner wearing a toga to cross that finish line was Jesse Beinhower, 39, an ROTC instructor at the University of Texas at San Antonio with Detachment 842. The Universal City resident was wearing a toga strapped over his left shoulder, about shin-length, with several strategically placed safety pins making sure it all stayed together.
Running in what amounts to a full-bodied bedsheet is not as easy as it sounds, Beinhower admitted.
“I was concerned, especially on some of the downhills as I was trying to lengthen my stride, and this toga really grabbed at the knees,’ Beinhower said. “I thought a couple of times I was going to tumble over, but I managed to stay on my feet.”
This is his second year doing the Toga Run; he ran alongside a younger son last year.
“This year, I was doing it on my own for a time, and it was very challenging. I would have preferred not to have been wearing a toga, but in the spirit of the night, I thought it was the right thing to do,” he said.
Paul Duran, who came out to run the race with his friend John Torres, said the Toga Run was his first race. Ever.
“You know, if you’re going to go, go big,” the San Antonio resident said as the pair took part in stretches before the run.
“It’s all in fun,” Torres added. “I’ve always wanted him to come out. I offered to sponsor him for marathons. He refused, so you have to start off small like this.”
“I told him I’d come out and join him,” Duran said. “I’m a competitive guy, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Carmona said the city has embraced its sponsorship with Special Olympics, having joined them at several of their own fundraising events throughout the year. She gave credit to the dozens of city workers and volunteers who made the course safe and navigable for the runners.
“We had about 20 carts out there along with some of the emergency vehicles,” she said. “We had the fire department that roamed the course to make sure that, if anyone gets hurt, they can pick somebody up, which we’ve never had a problem.”