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.