The question seemed sensible after watching the Sunny King Charity Classic’s deepest-ever field trade breathtaking golf shots this past weekend.
Should organizers consider changes as the tourney’s level of competition spikes?
“No,” said Randy Reaves, part of the two-man tandem that finished second in a sudden-death playoff. “The tournament was run extremely well this year, probably as good as I’ve ever seen it run.”
One hears those sentiments a lot after our area’s top locally organized sporting events.
Whether it’s the Sunny King Charity Classic or the Sunny King Criterium, reviews are always sunny.
Expect to hear it a lot in a few short weeks, after the Woodstock 5K.
The organization of those events always draws gushing praise, especially from participants — people who best know the ins and outs.
Their comments and the obvious growth of those events show that sports rank highly among things our area does best.
The thrilling final round of the Sunny King ended fittingly, on an eagle putt in a playoff. Oxford’s Marcus Harrell sank the long, curving putt and pumped his fist, punctuating one of the best Sunny Kings in its 32-year history.
Not that it was ever bad. It’s long been the area’s top local event, but it drew its strongest mix of local and out-of-town talent this year.
Reputation has something to do with that, and reputation comes back to organization.
But the same can be said for the area’s annual cycling bonanza.
It was only seven years ago when organizers revived the criteriums to accompany the established Cheaha Challenge. The Noble Street Festival grew around the crits, which won a place on USA Cycling’s National Racing Calendar and became a draw for top teams.
This year, organizers added a third event, the Foothills Classic road race. It gave pro riders a more competitive second event and reason to stay around for the whole weekend, which they did.
A record 858 total riders participated in the April 18 events, which included the Cheaha Challenge. That included 290 in the Foothills.
Taken as a whole, the annual cycling weekend grew into a major local event, on par with any other.
The same holds for Woodstock 5K, which grew quickly in roughly the same time span. It went from a local event with 79 runners in 2006 to the Road Runners Club of America’s national championship for the 5K distance in 2009, with more than 1,000 runners.
This year’s Woodstock, set for Aug. 7, will be the RRCA’s Southern Region 5K championship, matching the event’s 2008 status. The national championship designation returns in 2011.
Such growth and recognition doesn’t happen without ambitious and highly competent organization, to say nothing of enthusiastic volunteerism.
It’s hard to imagine another community the size of ours doing better.
For all that local organizers and volunteers do to fill the calendar with relevant and well-run events, cheers.