Why We Do It

Written by Laura Ringo on May 3rd 2018.

On Saturday morning, April 28 my feet hurt so badly that I could hardly walk. In fact, I avoided getting up because I knew the pain was coming. What was the whine-inducing activity? The day before my colleagues at Partners for Active Living and I (along with a TON of amazing volunteers and board members) spent 18+ hours on our feet setting up for, running, and then tearing down the 14th Annual SRHS Criterium  in downtown Spartanburg as part of Spring Fling.

Partners for Active Living did not start the event but took it over in its infancy. The event began as part of our community’s efforts to become more bicycle-friendly and to showcase some of the best in the sport as a creative way to build the buzz.

When the event started, there was one tent for spectators and that grew to 2 in 2009 and 38 in 2014 and 82 this year. We are proud of the growth but mostly grateful to the Spartanburg community, our sponsors and tailgaters for being part of this community celebration.

When I asked to share with various groups about the work of Partners for Active Living, I reference our commitment to physical activity, specifically walking and bicycling for everyone. We love our spandex-wearing cyclists and, in fact, cannot do our work without their support and partnership. However, they are not PAL’s target audience. We want families to be able to leave their front door and be able to walk or go for a bicycle ride if they choose. And so if that is the case, then why does PAL host a professional, spandex-wearing event? This seems a bit contradictory.

The PAL board and our staff have discussed this at length many times and here are the reasons that we continue hosting and building the event –

  1. PAL wants our community celebrations to promote health and showcasing the best can be inspirational (think of young athletes admiring NFL players),
  2. The event has helped educate the community about PAL and its mission,
  3. We make a little money to help pay for the many initiatives that cost the organization,
  4. PAL (and all of our people) love Spartanburg and want to celebrate the beauty and culture of our downtown,
  5. There is a cool factor that the event brings – professional cyclists and Southern tailgates are both pretty slick.

So what’s next for the crit?!? We would love to hear from you! Send us your ideas: lringo@active-living.org

(Photo courtesy of Beverly Knight)

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