Miles of memories with Run New Prague

Patrick Fisher

For more than 24 years I’ve been covering the news in New Prague. There’s been the good and the bad and plenty of events. There’s been events where friends and neighbors gather to help someone in town. This weekend, I was at the grand march for New Prague High School’s prom. This coming weekend, I likely will be at Run New Prague, the 39th year of the event.

In the year I was hired, 1999, when it was still called the New Prague Half-Marathon, it had more than 1,700 participants. Ten years later, the New Prague Area Chamber of Commerce had added a 5K race, with 750 runners in the half-marathon and 432 in the 5K. Since then, a 10K race was added and a children’s fun run.

Unfortunately, as time has gone by, the number of people running in the races have dropped. So much that last year the half-marathon and 10K were dropped from the races being held. In the May 11, 2023 edition of The New Prague Times, the reason given was “due to a shortage of volunteers, the increase of area races and the declining number of runners.” The remaining 5K, kids color run and a new event a push, pedal, pull, drew 242 participants.

In 24 years, I’ve been at nearly every one of the May races. There’s been a lot of memories. Among them is how the half-marathon course has changed. When I covered the race in 2000, it started in Memorial Park, but then the course went west on Main Street, north on Highway 21, then turned east onto 12th Street, past the high school and proceeded to take country roads until the course looped back onto Highways 13/19 east of New Prague and wound back to Memorial Park.

A few times I’d rush out to a part of the course where there were more hills and get photos of a long line of runners with those going down the hill and those coming up it. A few times, I’d try to get a photo of one of the aid stations on the course. More often than not I’d go for pictures of people at the starting line or finishing. There were a variety of stories I worked into coverage of Run New Prague. One was a father who pushed his daughter in a race tricycle. If I remember right she had cerebral palsy or a neurodegenerative disease. There were runners from all over the state and a few out-of-state.

Like many events, Run New Prague depends on volunteers. From county fairs to church festivals to city celebrations, volunteers are needed to run an event. In the past, non-profits or high school clubs helped at Run New Prague, either to run water stations, provide some entertainment or set up and take down the race course.

Unfortunately, over the years, more than one news story has detailed how volunteering is declining. According to stories in the Washington Post and NPR, both from December 2023, a report showed there has been a decline in volunteers over the last few years. One aspect is there are more events these days. These range from families having more group events whether sports or arts based, to attend to people feeling a need to just have some time to relax.

Hopefully, the downward trend in volunteers is just that, a trend. Although, we do need to find a way to get people to feel their volunteer work is having a positive affect, that it is helping people, that their giving up a few hours on their weekend is worth it.



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