Pounding the Pavement

Jazz Fest ’12: Never a dull moment
May 2, 2012
Trainer: Prospective runners, take heed
May 2, 2012
Jazz Fest ’12: Never a dull moment
May 2, 2012
Trainer: Prospective runners, take heed
May 2, 2012

Running is a hobby that continues to increase in popularity. From nation-wide marathons to local 5K races, runners are never short of an event in which to test their skills.

“The Courier presents the TGMC 5K Run for Excellence and Cajun Food Festival,” is one of many 5K races in the Houma area. Returning for its 12th year and benefiting the Terrebonne Foundation for Academic Excellence, the race is held May 12.

Last year the Road Runners Club of America named the race the southern regional championship, meaning the club advertised it across 12 states. Though it is not the regional championship this year, it is the designated state championship race. Last year it raised about $75,000.

With the help of the Bayou Runners Association, the highly organized group won big with the RRCA, impacting its decision when designating the southern regional and state championships.

“We are real excited that BRASS has been willing to work with us,” says Yolanda Trahan, Executive Director for the Terrebonne Foundation. “Because of their professionalism with laying out the route, it is actually a certified route. We appreciate that they take the extra time to do that.”

BRASS is a local group that specializes in hosting 5K races for other organizations and non-profit groups. It started as a set of men interested in running, around the time when 5K fundraiser events began growing in popularity. Their goal was to facilitate and arrange races for various organizations, allowing them to focus on raising money instead of worrying about the details of the run. Now 20 years old, it has seen many events under its watch.

Today BRASS has around 200 active members and helps organize about 20 5K runs per year.

“We had more [5K runs] but we wanted to maintain our value,” says Toby Hubbell, President of BRASS. A teacher, husband and father of three, the Raceland resident has served as the BRASS president for one year. “There is almost a 5K every weekend and we wanted to make the ones we have really great.”

Through the organization’s growth, the location of its members has broadened to areas like Lockport, Raceland and even New Orleans.

They focus on 5K events but host two runs for their own organization. Every year BRASS conducts a half marathon for its members and others in the community. This year they are also hosting a duathlon and two-mile run.

“We are a nonprofit,” Hubbell says. “We put on events for BRASS so we can turn around and put the money towards other races; to help keep them going.”

Toby loves the sport for its minimal requirements, a pair of shoes. He hopes BRASS can continue organizing races that draw attention from all over the state and the nation.

“Ultimately we would like to use the races we do to bring people into the Terrebonne and Lafourche area,” Hubbell says. “We want to make sure our 5Ks are the ones the people in Baton Rouge and New Orleans are calling really good events. We want them to come from outside the community and stay in hotels and really attract community-building projects rather than just put on 5Ks. In the future we’re looking at getting people into the parishes because that’s what helps out the community.”

Members get discounts on all of the races and receive awards each year for the top accomplishments. Last year the group gave out about $1,000 in awards to its members. Groups have running times each week and offer training for those with particular goals.

Toby’s wife Christina is an avid runner, participating in the sport since elementary school in Larose when she ran a local 5K. When she was 12 years old she ran the Crescent City Classic with her father and remembers getting hooked.

“I enjoy the healthy lifestyle of it,” Christina says. “It sets a great example.”

As a teacher and mother of three daughters, she says her students and children love to hear about her running experiences. Each year she participates in about 10 to 15 5K’s, five half marathons and has run five marathons in the past two years, the most recent of which was the Boston Marathon last month, a popular marathon for runners across the nation.

While she was training for the marathon, Christina ran six days and up to 50 miles a week. Running with her was her friend Monique Hodson.

Hodson is a teacher living in Lockport. She ran throughout high school and college but pushed running to the side once she started having children with her husband. She began running once more after she had her sixth and final child.

“When I knew I’d had my last child, I had a hard time with it so I just got up and started running,” Hodson says. “I met up with Christina’s sister at the gym and we’d gotten to be friends. We both juggle jobs and families and when we’d do our runs it was more like therapy. I could get stuff off my chest.”

Other than therapy, Hodson says it’s a way for her to teach her children healthy lifestyle choices. Instead of taking several medications, Hodson says running keeps her healthy and in shape. At 39 years old she’s done things she didn’t think possible, like participate in an ironman triathlon and run in the Boston Marathon last month. A fan of Disney, her goal for next year is the Goofy Challenge, a two-day race.

“Most people say they don’t have time for running,” says Hodson. “I don’t think it’s about having time but about making time to be around as long as possible for your children and grandchildren and making healthy choices. I feel good when I run and feel terrible if I don’t run. Emotionally, it gives me a boost, like I can do my 20 loads of laundry or attend the eight baseball games in a day.”

With the benefits of running, it might be good to take some time to get moving. Most local public school tracks are open after school hours and neighborhood streets are always available. A pair of shoes and a running friend could mean therapy, longevity and possibly some peace of mind.

Toby and Christina Hubbell, of Raceland, take a morning run beneath a canopy to avoid rainfall. Toby, president of the Bayou Runners Association, and his wife are anticipating May’s 5K run in Downtown Houma.