Guest contributor: Mike Kohl, Race Coordinator and Board of Directors, Plano Balloon Festival, Inc.
The Plano Balloon Festival Races (PBF Races) include a 1k, 5k, Half Marathon, and Relay that match a runner’s love of a challenging course and family friendly environment, complete with hot air balloons. We are proud of the races this event offers for runners and it shows in the participation numbers. Over the past six years, the race has grown from less than 1,000 entrants in 2010 to over 4,000 runners in 2015. The PBF Races now represent one of the largest in North Texas and we estimate 1,750 half marathon runners this year.
With the coordinated efforts by the Plano Balloon Festival, Inc. and DFW Runs, Eric Lindberg, the team provides the experience, knowledge and passion to continue with a well-organized and competently executed Race Series. The success of PBF Races can be attributed to the total focus and value offered to runners and family members. This is reflected in the custom finisher medals, race shirts, capes for kids, catered food, tickets to the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival, age bracket awards, water stations, volunteers, and the immense attention to detail provided by race coordinators.
The race course was changed in 2014 for three reasons: 1) Finish closer to the start to make it a true loop course, 2) Maintain close proximity to Runner’s Village, and 3) Better running experience. The Half Marathon Relay was added in 2016 as a direct result of the survey of runners from last year. PBF Races truly values the input and feedback from runners and this is one result of many in our collaborative efforts.
PBF Races attracts many first time half marathon runners within the metroplex and we are honored to have them at our starting line and proud to cheer them across the finish line. For those training we suggest that you join a running group from Run On!, Cooper Fitness, Frisco Running Club or any place that has others also training for PBF Races. Stick with the program and if you can’t do a short race during the week, make sure you extend to longer runs on the weekend. Don’t over-train. It’s just as easy to over-train as under-train and this causes injuries. Listen to your body and if you do become injured, avoid pushing yourself further until fully healed. Hydration is key because the Texas heat requires replenishing your body with a lot of fluids.
Incidents during the PBF Races are minimal because this is our #1 goal. Annual briefings are held to discuss the safety of the runners during the event and have an established evacuation plan in case of inclement weather. Plano Fire and Plano Police Department are onsite during the race to provide immediate assistance.
Prior participants have come from Ireland (a race team came over specifically for the event), Canada, Mexico and every contiguous state. PBF Races has become a part of people’s stories shown in race selfies, marriage proposals at the finish line, cancer survivors, Olympic Qualifiers, company sponsored teams, super heroes, tu-tus, and even a hot dog once ran in our race – truly a festival atmosphere. Lastly, we have award winning Finisher’s medals, which are given to all racers who complete the course. This year, the half marathon medal will be no exception – large, colorful and the center spins around making it a dazzling piece of bling.
Registration for PBF Races is available www.pbfraces.org and you can follow on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pbfraces/ for updates and conversations with other runners. Saturday, September 24, 2016 the 5K run will start at 7:30 a.m. and the 1K fun run will begin at 9:00 a.m. with the awards ceremony scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Sunday, September 25, 2016 the Half Marathon and Relay will begin at 7:00 a.m. and the awards ceremony scheduled for 9:30 a.m. More information about the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival “Dazzling Autumn Skies” being held September 23-25, 2016 at Oak Point Park, may be found at www.planoballoonfest.org.