Tradition binds civilizations just as it binds the running community.
At the household level, runners will commonly prepare meals that are dense with carbohydrates in hopes of attaining a nutritional edge the night before a competition. At the event level, there may be pre-meal options the night before along with some kind of expo or entertainment for the family. For many runners, a post-race tradition often involves indulgences of food and libations at copious levels, followed by an early afternoon nap.
Throughout my running life, I have had the privilege of getting to know many amazing runners and learn about their tendencies and traditions. The conversations that ensue during a shared run flow easier and more authentically than those which occur at local watering holes on a Saturday night after a few. As each runner talks through breaths, effort and hills, a brotherhood often begins which leads to subsequent pre-dawn runs and sporadic meetings on the trails and at running events.
Some of the people I’ve gotten to know have been fortunate, and skilled enough, to win the Tour De La Porte at one event or another. One purpose of my project is to understand some of the individuals who run these races year after year, and document their stories, whether it be from the front, middle or back of the pack. During recent conversations with a couple past champions, I sought to understand why they have made the Tour De La Porte part of their tradition.
Joe Wozniak, my cousin and best man, won the 10k event in 2014. He has run the Tour De La Porte all but one year since 2012. He attributes the great scenery and toughness of the course, along with stiff competition, as his driving force for signing up year after year, making the Tour a part of his yearly running tradition.
“There isn’t a race around here, in my opinion, which offers the sights of hills, fields, and lakes quite like the Tour,” said Wozniak. “The community aspect of the Tour is another reason to run this race. You get to see where you stack up in one of the region’s biggest races. It seems to grow in popularity each year.”
As for his post-race traditions, Wozniak likes to collect his iron and take refuge with his running mates at Third Base to throw a few back and talk about the event.
Adam Seymour, a La Porte native and one of my friends, was champion at the 2018 5K Trail event, which is the starting event of the Tour’s weekend. For Seymour, the Tour is a generational tradition that he likes to keep alive.
“My dad, who passed away in 2016, always ran the Tour De La Porte,” said Seymour. “I like to go out to the race with my family, get in the zone with a go-go-go mindset, and hear them cheer me on. Knowing my dad ran this race year after year definitely makes signing up for the tour part of my tradition.”
Seymour’s post-race routine involves an immediate trip to Dunkin' Donuts with his wife Sarah and three children. He refuels his body with apple fritter donuts and a sense of accomplishment, as Seymour has placed top 10 nearly every race since his onset in competitive running.
As hundreds of people descend around Cummings Lodge next weekend, I feel the historical significance behind the cherished event. Everyone has their stories and reasons for running the race. Although each person may have their own motive for proving themselves, we all share a common desire to fulfill the need to challenge ourselves and enjoy the nostalgia afterwards.
Whether you are at the front, middle or back of the pack, revel in the fact that you can belly up at your favorite bar or enjoy a guilt-free donut at the end. After all, this is your day to be a champion, tell your story, and solidify your own traditions, no matter where you may finish in the event.