Students, community gear up for ‘ the toughest half in Texas’

College Station Senior Merritt Noble-Roth and Eastland Senior Evan Johnson enjoying a nice on the Bear Trail Tuesday afternoon. Photo Illustration | Trey Honeycutt

It has earned the nickname “The Toughest Half in Texas” and attracts thousands of runners, including students, alumni, members from the community as well runners from all over. It’s the Bearathon.

Put on every year by the Baylor Student Foundation, Bearathon is a half-marathon and 5k run.

“The Bearathon is Student Foundation’s largest event that helps raise scholarships specifically for an endowment fund that we offer for students,” said Taylor Neely, co-chair of campus promotions for Student Foundation.

The Bearathon takes runners on a tour through Baylor campus, Cameron Park, downtown Waco and the Brazos River up to McLane Stadium.

“This event brings back a lot of alumni and people from out of town so it promotes the Baylor/Waco community by showcasing our campus but also parts of Waco that we find beautiful,” said Kristin Koch, co-chair of campus promotions for Student Foundation.

Both Neely and Koch say they are excited to be co-directors of Bearathon this year.

“I think between Taylor being an avid runner and having that running experience and I am really detail oriented and goal driven is why Student Foundation thought we would be good for the Bearathon,” Koch said, “It really is a beast of a project and, between the two of us it really is a great partnership.”

Last year, the Bearation had over 2,100 registered runners from across the state of Texas, resulting in $80,000 for scholarships. Money raised for scholarships comes from the race’s registration fees and sponsorships from local businesses.

“One of my biggest goals was to also increase the money we receive from sponsors,” Koch said. “That means that the more money we receive from sponsors, the more money we can give to student scholarships.”

According to the co-chairs, Student Foundation is always looking to improve the Bearathon from one year to the next, the co-chairs said.

“Our goals are always just to make it better,” said Koch, “That means making things more convenient for runners and creating a better atmosphere for those cheering the runners on.”

They’ll also be changing up the course this year.

“We are also hoping to improve the runner relations atmosphere,” Neely said. “That entails having the Start and Finish at the same place.”

Because of its difficulty, some runners choose to train for the Bearathon long before it takes place. David Johnson, a 2014 Baylor graduate, has been training for the Bearathon since December.

“Because of my full-time job, I have to be more disciplined in how I train,” Johnson said. “I try to eat healthier, avoid alcohol and do my longer distance runs on the weekend when I have more time.”

For some runners, this is their first time taking on the Bearathon or even a half-marathon.

“I know that this is going to be a challenge,” said Houston senior Sarah White. “But I’m looking forward to pushing myself and accomplishing this goal that I have been working really, really hard to achieve.”

Registration for the Bearathon is still open until March 17.