Sick of Sunday morning races?

Like many of you, I left my home Sunday morning and was surprised to find that I couldn’t get very far. A section of Gaston Avenue, which is a pretty major thoroughfare, was completely closed off, and no drivers could get through. I was headed to the home of a friend, who lives at Skillman and Velasco. It’s normally a 3-4 minute trip, but it took me 20 minutes on Sunday morning. I kept trying to circumvent the race route, and I kept running into it. It seemed to cut through all the neighborhoods around me — Lakewood, Lakewood Hills, Hollywood/Santa Monica, Lakewood Heights, Swiss Avenue … I heard later that neighbors in Lochwood were affected, and once I looked at the route, I saw that it cut through most of the neighborhoods around the lake, frequently on neighborhood streets.

I learned that the race was the Big D Marathon from Christina Hughes Babb, the Advocate‘s managing editor and one of our resident marathon runners. Though Babb is a runner, last year she criticized this race’s route, disturbances and lack of notification.

That element — the complete surprise of it — may have been worse than the number of streets shut down. All of it was enough to convince Maelissa Watson, who has lived on Lakeshore for 39 years, to write to us about her experience Sunday morning. She expressed her frustration not only with Sunday’s marathon but all of the other spring races:

Where is the balance in the public interest for homeowners who pay higher property taxes because of closeness to White Rock Lake, to accommodate those from other Metroplex subdivisions and, indeed, from far and wide to disrupt their normal lives? I have been living in my home for 39 years. Back then I recognized the beauty of the architecture, mature trees, and the importance of nature and wildlife at the lake. Realtors actually refused to show us Lakewood, pushing North Dallas and Highland Park. … Turtle Creek is a joy to behold, but I am quite sure Highland Park residents would not tolerate a marathon through their neighborhood for as many weekends as are cast upon Lakewood residents. … Alternate accommodation needs to be made for these runners and bicyclists who want to raise money for their organizations and other charitable purposes. … There are commercial spaces available, large tracts where cars are raced and stadium properties with miles and miles for running and cycling enthusiasts to run and cycle. Let the nonprofits rent family farms and run around the fields; it would be much healthier than running in a city where smog is so oppressive, especially Downtown. With that option, homeowners’ rights are not abused. … Homeowners need to alert their public representatives to alternatives to the abuse of their property rights, and insist on the reinstatement of the use and enjoyment of weekends in their neighborhoods.

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  • Johnjones

    You are completely missing the points made by these concerned residents, who rightly recognize the special nature of their neighborhood. Your comment about it taking 10 minutes is a farce. Why should we have to scour racing sites on a regular basis, or any other sites for that matter? The folks who put on the Fourth of July parade have it right, and provide ample notice with fliers and other means. If the racing organizations want to come into our neighborhood, they could at least act like guests instead of barging in like self-entitled jerks!

  • MarySue Foster

    I wrote to the race organizers with  many of the same points. Lack of notice and lack of signage among them. I also learned that the police are supposed to let cars through during gaps in the runners. The police on the corner where I was stopped (Abrams just north of Gaston) said he COULD NOT interrupt the runners. After about 15 minutes, I ootched out of the line and went south to I-30 so I could drive to my destination at Mockingbird and Preston. 

    This same policeman was directing people to just drive a little further west and cross the race route. Given that the race was CIRCULAR, I’m not sure which part of that geometry he didn’t understand. If you’re encircled, there is no “driving west” to find a break. You’re just stuck!

    Please let our representatives know that this is unacceptable.

  • Haymags

    I too agree there are too many events in our neighborhood:  St. Patrick’s day; all those races.  Makes it very difficult to get around on the weekends.  And to Wilson!  who apparently doesn’t live in the area–just work takes them in the area—some of the streets are actually CLOSED so you can’t get your car out of the drive way!!! unless you move it the night before and park it several blocks away-you are stuck at home.  This happened on Easter weekend!!  I have contacted my council-person, Angela Hunt, but she never responds.!!!

  • Jordan

    really? I love the races… they make me proud that my neighborhood is a part of the city that the organizers want to show off. I especially love that the Big D Marathon comes right down my street and I can watch the runners from my house.

  • Wilson!

    I can’t believe all the unfriendly, entitled comments in this thread.  Living in Lakewood / East Dallas doesn’t give you any special rights to control what goes on at White Rock Lake – it belongs to Dallas, not Lakewood.  

    As far as the “nobody told ME” attitude, WAKE UP people!  If you’re intelligent enough to work a computer and whine here, you should be smart enough to check the various running schedules – Dallas Running Club, Run On, Luke’s Locker – if you hit those, you should have an idea about what’s happening on the weekends.  How do I know this?  Because my work takes me into the Kingdom of Lakewood regularly on the weekends.  It takes about 10 minutes on a Thursday or Friday evening to figure out where the trouble spots are going to be, and how to avoid them. 

    If you’re unhappy about how your neighborhood is being used by running groups, here’s an idea – get involved in the groups that put the events on!  Get involved with your neighborhood association, and get to know your city councilperson.  It’s much easier to affect change by working from the inside than it is to stand on the outside and point fingers and throw stones.  I’d bet money that some of these events get discussed at your neighborhood association meetings – if nobody shows up to voice their displeasure, how are the organizers going to know you don’t want them in your neighborhood?

  • GreeninDallas

    As someone who paid to live by the lake, I try to be ever so considerate of other people. I would love to ride early on saturday to avoid slowing traffic or staying away from family time… but I can’t. Now that it’s warmer, there is a 5k and 15k just about every saturday morning on the trail… where else do I go? I moved here to access the lake, but runner seem to have priority. I don’t know where anyone is talking about cyclists events blocking roads, as far as I know the only thing that did was Tour of Dallas… other then that, were on our own. Run events on the other hand shut down streets and take over the trail VERY VERY often. 

    Now, I’ll have to put the bike in the car to go and bike around the airport to avoid all of this. How in the hell does that make sense when I bought here for the lake? I don’t see any other way for now. 

  • Macepie

    move the races around the city not just lakewood

  • over it

    I vote for the park cities!  

  • over it

    Who cares if we are all runners/cyclists!  This issue is about being trapped in our homes way too many times during races.  Let them have these races in their neighborhoods and find out how annoying and inconvenient they are.  

  • Lenard Pierson

    Yes, just because White Rock Lake is basically the only Dallas park of any beauty and importance, we residents are favored with lots of people coming from other less taxed parts of town to enjoy what made us move here. It is time to put a cap on this free riding of the bikers and runners that congregate at the lake much too often. Let them find another venue to practice their healthy lifestyles and fundraising activities. Maybe if Dallas had been more people conscious it would have devoted more land to larger parks, such as NYC’s Central Park, and would not be so heavily dependent on White Rock Lake.

  • amy

    I don’t disagree, but would settle for at least clear communication on how to get AROUND these races. Showing just the route doesn’t help-we need to know where roads ARE accessible. I work retail on Sunday’s and dread my “short” commute on race days.

  • Chris Canellos

    Amen Sister. As a business owner and resident in the neighborhood I to have grown tired of all the events. There are times that I can’t get out of my drive way to take my family to church on Sundays. It also makes it difficult for my customers to access our store. There needs to be a limit placed on such races so we can balance our right to enjoy where we live. Charity is a wonderful thing and at Burger House we try to help this community as much as we can but there are days when these events really inconvenience our patrons. Regards , Chris Canellos    

  • Annie

    I live on Lakewood Boulevard…I love that our neighborhood is ‘the place to go’ for events…we should all be proud of that!  However, I have, on more than one occassion, been late for work on a weekend (yes, I work weekends) due to unannounced street closures in the area for various events.  I think if there was a way to allow traffic thru at safe intervals when there is a gap in the participants it wouldn’t be a problem.  I don’t mind waiting several minutes for a safe window to cross.  I really don’t like the roads that are blocked with the wooden barriers…especially where there isn’t a participant in site and it is 3pm in the afternoon.

    Anyway, I think that a collaborative approach to a solution is much more productive for this challenge.

  • SB

    We love to run but when you live around the lake and have to drive around it to get to most of your destinations, you are at the mercy of Garland, Gaston, Buckner & Mockingbird – and the neighborhoods that surround those streets.

    Last Sunday, with that marathon route the only direction we could have gone from our house on the NE side of the lake was South or go through neighborhoods. It took us 30 min to get from the Arboretum to Skillman and Live Oak.

    There’s some kind of race – 5K to marathon – at least once a month and while I don’t mind sharing our beautiful neighborhood, it’s a bit excessive. What about Oak Cliff or the Twin Cities or that Santa Fe Trail or the Katy Trail?

  • SB
  • Meredith L Moore

     No kidding on the traffic cops. There was once one lady cop who I was trying to ask where there might be a break in the race set up for cars. She gave me a deaf ear (mind you NO ONE was running by her at this time). When I finally was shouting (nicely) loud enough so that she couldn’t ignore me she just started talking to her self how I was just gonna cuss her out and kept saying ‘no’. It was so bizarre. She would not answer my question at all.

    I think if they are going to have these marathons they need to inform their traffic cops that they have to interact with the neighborhood, and truly direct traffic.

    (they also need to not hire people who don’t have all of their wits about them)

  • Meredith L Moore

    I am so tired of these races. The day after one recent race I was walking down Swiss to find the streets STILL littered with gloves, cups, bottles, band-aids, socks and trash. I’m not talking a few here and there, these items were all over!!!

    Dallas has a lovely trail system and a lake. Figure it out. AND clean up your event’s litter!!!

    My neighbors and I have been stranded so many times that we have started the Lakewood Mimosa Network, activated on any race day. Neighbors just walk to eachothers houses and brunch. What else can you do? The rest of your day is shot.

  • Grestex

    in Big D’s defense they did have signs unlike the other races that run through the neighborhood. As a homeowner near White Rock I’m not only tired of the running races but the cyclists that ride two by two on the road making it unable to pass. Not to mention all of the traffic violations they make. I’ve had enough. Let them run the races in their own neighborhoods!

  • Dtaylortx

    Seems to me that there is a great opportunity to use the much touted Sante Fe trail for these races.
    Certainly would reduce the delays mentioned above.
    I double dog ditto all the remarks made on this issue.

  • Trulyunruhly

    Thank you, Advocate and others, for finally addressing this issue.  I too was caught up in no less than three stoppages on my way to my church, located inconveniently it seems at Preston and Mockingbird.  As the crow flies, not too far from our home in Little Forest Hills.  But I was late to the church, and nearly too late to sing in choir that morning, thanks to yet ANOTHER race.  As usual, not being a runner, I was not sure which race this was.  Advertising?  nope.  Having lived on Swiss ave adn Gaston for many years prior to this, it still doesn’t get any easier.  Folks, find ANOTHER PLACE to have your marathons!  Once a year is all we neighbors should have to deal with being stuck idling while a paid traffic nazi decides the gap is wide enought between runners to let me go (it was WAY wide enough and she still wouldn’t let us go!)  Look, I don’t bother others with my interests and hobbies so I don’t think it’s fair that a bunch of smug runners (yes I know you’re all
    thin and healthy, good for you)  to take over our streets two, three, however many times per years (it seems like 10).  There are many nice places to run in Dallas.  Get on your Adidas and go for it. cau 

  • Lakewoody

    Every race inconveniences me, blocks me in so I cannot get
    north of Swiss without being creative, patient or going FAR out of my way.  And while it’s a hassle at times, I
    love it.  It’s a sign that this
    community is attractive for events, that more events are taking place in our
    city. Since there are more events, and they are getting larger each time, then
    either more people are coming to Dallas for our events (good for business) or
    more locals are making healthier choices (good for humanity) – and hopefully,
    both are true.  I am glad that my
    kids see these events and want to take part in them in the future. 


    I find that ALMOST all organizers do what they can to make
    events neighborhood friendly.  
    True EVENT races, like WR, should be a celebration of the neighborhoods
    in which they run.  Most organizers
    also clean up well after themselves – sometimes leaving the streets cleaner
    than before the event. 


    I do fault Big D for both their unconventional routing and
    lack of communication.  Other
    recent events, including WR, Rock and Roll and the recent cycling event, were
    much clearer in their communication and planning.


    Like it or not, Dallas is growing and these events are going
    to become more frequent and larger. 
    Larger events cannot limit themselves to the trails. They are just not
    wide enough NOR are they safe because access to the trail is so limited should
    someone need medical assistance.  
    I chose to embrace well run events in our community, voice objection and
    make constructive suggestions when events are poorly thought out or implemented
    and embrace the occasional Saturday or Sunday morning when thousands or more
    wind their way through our beautiful tree-lined streets . . many of them
    wishing they had the foresight to move into such a convenient and lovely

  • KK

    The issue is notificaiton! The White Rock M. puts little signs out at least a week ahead of time, they have advertizing in papers, at locations all over town…we know it is coming.  Like many I like the occational run but notify not just the homeowners but the neighborhoods surrounding we have to get places on our local city roads and not knowing there is a race does not give us a chance to modify our route.

  • Jennifw

    Is there a solidified race calendar that would show all of the races in my area? I am in Lakewood, but on a smaller street so I am not directly notified of the races. The differences in signage is HUGE.  The Hot Chocolate Race had big electronic signs up and down Abrams for weeks prior to their race. I knew it was coming and could paln accordingly. I don’t remember even seeing a single sign for the Big D marathon. I only knew about it from having friends running.

  • txdancergal

    It also affects neighborhoods that are not directly on White Rock Lake, and on Saturdays as well. I also do volunteer work on Saturdays that takes me to the downtown area, which is also inundated with bikers, walkers, runners, etc.  A few weeks ago I had to detour twice in my own neighborhood, and four times on the way downtown to get around bikers.  Enough is enough!!!!!