Get sneak peek at Zoolight displays to help light way for Black Cat run

craig.hill@thenewstribune.comOctober 13, 2013 

Answers to important questions nobody has asked me yet.

It’s almost the middle of October, so, obviously, I’m in the Christmas spirit, is there any way I can get a sneak peek at Zoolights?

First, and most important, keep your holiday cheer to yourself until after Thanksgiving.

Second, yes, Metro Parks Tacoma is letting some of the Zoolight creatures loose two months early this year, but for one night only. There’s a catch, however: They’re coming out to watch you run.

Janet Bissell, Metro Parks’ community wellness coordinator, is working to get the animals made of plywood and Christmas lights set out along the course for Saturday’s Black Cat Fun Run at Point Defiance Park.

Starting at 6:30 p.m., runners can enter the 21/2- or 5-mile run for $25 or $30, respectively. Both races are chip-timed, start near the Pearl Street entrance and are open to walkers, kids ages 5 and older and people pushing strollers.

While the Zoolight animals will provide some light along the way, the course will be dark, Bissell said, “with several stretches without power.”

Members of the Tacoma Wheelmen’s Bicycle Club will be on the course with lights on their bikes, but runners are asked to bring glow sticks, headlamps or flashlights.

Post-race festivities include live music, snacks, prizes and a costume contest.

Runners are encouraged to wear their best Halloween costumes and even dress up their dogs. South Sound Running will present running-shoe gift certificates for best costumes, best dog costume, best kids costume and even for worst costume.

The upgrades to the Black Cat Fun Run, which typically draws 800-1,000 runners, are just a ripple in the big splash Metro Parks has made in the South Sound running scene this year.

In March 2012, Bissell told The News Tribune she’d set a goal of staging a run per month in 2013.

She’s on the verge of reaching that goal. The Black Cat run will be Metro Park’s 12th race in 2013, and two more are on the schedule.

The Thanksgiving morning Norpoint Turkey Trot celebrates its 19th running Nov. 28. And the 3-mile Jingle Bell Run is Christmas Eve at Wright Park (and just $10 for those who register in advance).

For more information on the Black Cat run and the Metro Parks race series, visit

Will Downtown to Defiance give us a good reason to play in the rain again in 2014?

More than 1,000 people registered for the walking/skating/biking event that utilized parks and temporarily closed roads between the Tacoma Dome and Point Defiance Park.

But when Nancy Johnson of Metro Parks saw the Sept. 22 forecast (heavy rain), she thought they’d be lucky to see 350 participants. More than 800 showed for an event designed to encourage active lifestyles and alternative transportation while celebrating progress toward a decades-old dream of a waterfront trail between downtown and the park.

While that’s arguably quite impressive, the event cost sponsors Metro Parks, the City of Tacoma, the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and U.S. Bank roughly $32,000.

While Johnson says that cost will drop for future events now that startup costs are out of the way, it’s too early to say for sure if the event will happen again.

A survey sent last week to registered participants asked if they’d still participate if there was a small registration fee.

“It’s probably not financially feasible (to have a free event) without a presenting sponsor,” Johnson said.

Johnson said feedback has been positive, but “it’s too early to say anything” about the future of the event. She says organizers are collecting and analyzing feedback and in about two months could start making a decision about whether or not the event will return in 2014.

What’s the most useless piece of equipment at my gym?

I recently spoke with Bruce Mack, a Philadelphia-based fitness expert who has made a career helping gyms become more efficient. I hadn’t finished asking the question when he answered.

“The leg press,” said Mack, referring to the weight machine where users sit with their knees at about ear level then lift weight by straightening their legs.

“It’s the most unfunctional piece of exercise equipment,” Mack said. “Anything you have to sit down for, with very few exceptions, isn’t good (exercise equipment). Think about it. Most people live a very sedentary life and sit a lot whether they are at a desk or driving a car. And what’s the first thing we do with them when they get to the gym? We put them right back in that position doing one movement when what they need is to do multi-plane movements.”

Craig Hill: 253-597-8497 @AdventureGuys

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