More than 10 years ago, Sheryl Sculley was hired as San Antonio's city manager in November 2005. Almost immediately after moving to San Antonio from Phoenix, where she served as assistant city manager for 16 years, she noticed a specific lack of activity on city streets and in parks.
"Ten years ago, there were not a lot of people out running regularly," Sculley said Monday.
To encourage more active lifestyles, she started the City Manager’s Step Up to Wellness 5K Walk & Run in 2007 at Brackenridge Park for city employees and their families.
The 9th annual 5K will take place on Saturday, Feb. 27 at SeaWorld and invites city employees, their families, local business representatives, and the community at large to participate in the approximately three-mille jaunt in and around the theme park's grounds.
The running community was one of many groups that came to Sculley with special initiatives and projects they would like to see come to fruition with the newest city manager at the helm. This group included several executives from major local companies and organizations like H-E-B, USAA, and the YMCA of Greater San Antonio.
"I had a number of other things to do first," she said, noting the $550 million capital bond program she proposed in 2006 (which was approved), a host of other issues concerning the more than 30 City departments that she and her staff oversee.
Running comprises a substantial piece of her life as she has completed nine marathons, including Boston, New York, Chicago, Washington, Phoenix, and San Antonio, and more than 50 half-marathons and so it didn't take long for marathons to climb up the list of priorities. After kicking off the first City Manager 5K, she turned her attention to national brands to bring the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon to town in 2008.
But she was driven by both a personal and professional prerogative, she said. Marathons are part of the bigger picture of the city's health.
"We’ve been able to manage civilian health care costs by doing a lot of preventative activities as well as incentivizing wellness,” Sculley said. "Now you can't go anywhere without seeing people out running.”
The City moved to the deeply suburban SeaWorld from the largest inner city park in 2011 because the run has grown to host more than 2,700 runners, joggers, and walkers – some even bring a stroller. The first year at Brackenridge attracted 561 participants, already a big crowd for the park's narrow walkways and trails.
As of this writing, 1,882 have registered so far.
"There are rolling hills throughout the (SeaWorld) route, it's interesting to see the park from that perspective," she said, adding that "there may be an opportunity in the future to do (a similar event) in one of our linear parks as well.”
Registration is free for City employees and a discounted rate of $7 is given to their families and City of San Antonio "partners," which includes contractors or vendors. Community members pay $25 until race day, when the price is $30. Runners can register online here or in person at any of the packet pickup locations. Click here for details.
Runners will also receive a discounted entrance fee, normally $69 for an adult, to SeaWorld for that Saturday that includes a voucher for a picnic-style buffet and a complementary parking pass for $31.49 plus tax.
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*Top image: Families and friends launch forward from the starting line during the 2014 City Manager's Step Up to Wellness 5K Walk and Run. Photo by Fred Gonzales for the City of San Antonio.