Just ask Mike Greer, a Lubbock native who has been participating in endurance running for almost 40 years. “We have the best triathlon lake in the country,” he says, referring to the spring-fed lake in the Yellow House Canyon where IRONMAN participants compete. “And we have great weather,” he says. “It’s a fact.”
Lubbock has been called one of the best preparation courses for the IRONMAN World Championship in Hawaii because of its terrain and conditions. It’s also a qualifier course for the national championship, which makes the annual event a popular one—attracting people from 42 states and 32 countries to compete. But that wasn’t always the case.
Greer helped organize the first Buffalo Springs Lake triathlon in 1990, before it became an Ironman event. “I went all over the state of Texas competing, and I handed out brochures. People said, ‘Lubbock? Why would I go to Lubbock?’” At the first race, 91 people showed up. At the time, the network of endurance runners and people interested in running was smaller, and the major cities already held all the marathons and racing events needed to fill a calendar. “I’ve run the Dallas marathon 10 times,” Greer says. “I wanted Lubbock to become one of those fun places to run a marathon.”
And he achieved that. The racing scene in the United States has exploded since Greer first joined the West Texas Running Club in 1977, one year after it was founded. Last year’s IRONMAN 70.3 Buffalo Springs Lake race had an economic impact of approximately $5 million on the city of Lubbock. Once someone has raced in Lubbock, they typically want to return.
In addition to the spring-fed lake that maintains a perfect, consistent temperature for swimming year-round, Lubbock’s gorgeous canyon terrains are a draw. The West Texas Running Club and the newer West Texas Endurance organization put on a variety of running events each year that are fun, different and true to West Texas culture, with names like the Prairie Dog Town Run, Yankee Doodle Dash and Sparkler Sprint, HOWL-O-WEEN Dog Run & Haunted Hustle and the Carol of Lights Run.
“Anybody who says there’s not anything to do in Lubbock is either deaf, dumb or blind,” jokes Greer. The area has long been a popular home to runners, even before endurance running became such a hot hobby. The West Texas Running Club might be the oldest club of its kind in the country, Greer says. And he’s adamant that you can’t find a better place to plan or participate in a running event than Lubbock. “When people talk about our location, I say ‘What’s the problem with our location? It’s right in the middle of the country—it’s just a little south.’”
Check out our website to learn more about planning a race or other sporting event in Lubbock.
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