Commentary: Take it from a geriatric shuffler, three races in one weekend is not cool

There is a regular group from the Verde Valley to be found several weekends a month hitting the pavement in one of the many road races offered in the Phoenix area.

Some are highly accomplished runners, others are recreational joggers and then there are the old geriatric shufflers such as myself.

The venues often shift to cooler confines of Flagstaff during the summer months. If you want to make a long weekend of it you can find a race most any weekend at one end of the state to the other. If you are up to a major challenge, try your hand at the annual Old Oraibi Run in Hopi land, or the mountainous Oracle Run in southern Pinal County.

One of the most frequent comments local runners hear from Phoenix friends is a desire that more weekend races be offered in the Verde Valley. The April Brian Mickelsen Marathon and February Sedona Marathon have become must-do annual events for many Phoenix area runners. They love the Verde Valley and would gladly make the weekend trek if only there were more races to be had here.

Well, someone is obviously listening, but at the same time not paying very good attention to what their Verde Valley neighbors are doing. There will be three races locally – Cottonwood, Sedona and Village of Oak Creek – all on the same day March 25.

The races are warmly welcomed by local running enthusiasts, and you can bet they will garner interest from road warriors in other parts of the state as well.

But, c’mon, three local races in one day when we only have about a half dozen such events in the Verde Valley over the course of a year? A classic case of the left hand not paying attention to what the right is doing.

Here is a tip for local race event planners to consider next time. Go to runningintheusa.com, click on Arizona and strategically plan your event based on what others are doing. You have to remember that in Arizona, the competition for weekend races is fierce. There are 75 on the calendar in Arizona at runningintheusa.com in March, and 93 in April.

You need to secure your date as early as possible, lowball the price for early entries and bump the entry fee strategically as you get closer to the event.

And, please, don’t schedule a race in Sedona or VOC when Cottonwood is having one the same weekend.

One of the most efficient decision-making bodies in the Verde Valley is the Cottonwood Planning and Zoning Commission. Its seven members come obviously well prepared to meetings and Commission Chairman Ed Kyler does a good job of keeping the ship on a straight and steady course.

There is a reason for this, and it’s something all other boards and commissions and elected councils in the Verde Valley should consider as a matter of protocol. The Cottonwood Planning and Zoning Commission makes it perfectly clear prior to any of its meetings that it “will not consider written materials submitted less than three working days before the meeting.”

In other words, commission members are not going to allow any last-minute surprises at their meetings.

Quite the contrast to what we recently saw with the Cottonwood City Council on the contentious Thunder Valley Rally vote. Some members of the council voiced complaints that their feet were being held to the fire to make a decision on TVR when the rally committee had not provided the council with a written recommendation before the fact.

If council members do not like such tactics, there is an obvious solution. They can take a page from the operating procedures of their own Planning Commission and require written recommendations on any business that is to come before the council. Further, the council should be consistent on not allowing “written materials submitted less than three working days before the meeting.”

If you don’t like surprises, don’t allow them to be part of the way you do business.

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