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The painting of shamrocks Sunday morning at 2nd and Main streets in downtown Davenport symbolizes more than the starting line of the Center for Active Seniors, Inc.’s 36th annual St. Patrick’s Day Race next Saturday.

The artwork represents the beginning of the road race season in the Quad-Cities, which is home to run/walk events almost every weekend — often more than one — during the spring, summer and fall.

“We’re spoiled,” said Joe Moreno, who directs six races in the area, including the annual Firecracker Run on the Fourth of July, and the Quad-Cities Marathon in September. “People don’t realize what a great running community we have.”

Although he called the jam-packed running calendar a blessing, Moreno also said the area has become oversaturated with races. So how should runners select which events deserve their time and financial investments?

It comes down to the perks.

Numerous factors — including the price, cause or theme, course scenery, and of course, the quality of swag and post-race party — influences how distance runner Erin Mahr organizes her training schedule. She oversees the Cornbelt Running Club Women’s 101 Run/Walk Program, which begins March 26 and continues for eight weeks.

“I love doing all the races, but it adds up,” said Mahr, who has completed 52 half marathons. “You know it’s a solid race if it’s been around for a long time.”

While themed races may draw non-runners, poor management often discourages those individuals from signing up for additional events in the future, Moreno said.

Cornbelt President Paul Schmidt’s list of favorite races in the area includes the Quad-City Times Bix 7 in July, the Komen Quad-Cities Race for the Cure in June and the Quad-Cities Distance Classic in May. He said Race for the Cure likely is the largest run/walk fundraiser in the region. 

“There are dozens of quality events in our area worthy of support,” Schmidt said. “Generally, it pays to see if the director and key organizers are local.”

New this spring, runners will have the chance to complete a 5K or 10K Saturday, May 19, Armed Forces Day, across the Rock Island Arsenal during the inaugural Run the Rock. Moreno is heading this one, too. While the Quad-Cities Marathon course features a section on the government property, he said, “It’s been years since there’s been a race on the island.”

When he has a free weekend, Moreno promotes his events at other established races.

For various reasons, he said, "You see a lot of one-time races." As registration fees increase, Moreno noted, runners have become more picky.

“The strong ones that are well organized, have good causes and put a lot of sincere effort and resources into them will survive," he said.


Jack Cullen covers health, wellness and outdoor recreation for the Quad-City Times.