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November 25, 2014

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Joe Downtown: Latest 5K run ideas include squirt guns and striptease

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Tanya Carrier, seen downtown Tuesday, June 11, 2013, is a runner who is organizing new 5K fun runs for Las Vegas.

Downtown Runner

Tanya Carrier, seen downtown Tuesday, June 11, 2013, is a runner who is organizing new 5K fun runs for Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

5K Color Run

Packets of colored powder fly through the air at the color extravaganza finish line at the 5K Color Run, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, in downtown Las Vegas. Launch slideshow »

As a not-so-popular teenager, she took up running. When the other kids saw she was good at it, high school life became easier.

Almost two decades later, Tanya Carrier has a child of her own and a career as a Clark County school teacher — and she keeps running, typically waking at 4 a.m. for a 6-mile jaunt before class, sometimes taking her 2-year-old in a stroller.

Carrier is so convinced running is a catalyst for positive change, she has founded Downtown Runners LLC and plans to organize two Las Vegas-unique 5K runs between now and next spring.

The first run, the Sprinkler Sprint, is scheduled for Aug. 10.

Carrier describes it as a walk or run through multiple water zones over 3.1 miles. Zones include the Misty Tunnel, Super Soaking Squirt Gun Zone, Water Cannon Blast and an optional Slip 'n Slide finish line. An Ice Pop Stop will also be part of the course.

Why all the water for the Sprinkler Sprint? To help cool runners. In the past 30 years, the average daily high temperature in Las Vegas during August has been 102 degrees.

The next run, Carrier hopes, will take place in the winter.

It will involve stripping.

Sort of.

It will be called the Strip Poker 5K, and Carrier wants people to start the race wearing layers of clothing that could be donated to charity. At three points in the race, runners will peel off some clothes and volunteers will pick them up.

Runners will receive a playing card at three different points to play a version of poker at the finish line. There, they will join their three cards to two house cards and will earn a prize based on their hand.

Summer and winter are two seasons in Las Vegas when 5Ks rarely happen because of the weather, so naturally they are the seasons Carrier targeted.

"We're saturated with 5Ks in the fall and the spring," she said. "I'm going to do one in dead heat of summer and cold of winter so people will flock to my events."

Carrier doesn't talk without smiling. When that's pointed out, she beams even more.

"I'm bubbly, I'm happy," said the teacher who was raised part time in a foster home. She admits getting the same "bubbly" questions from other teachers at school in the morning as they prepare for the daylong grind ahead.

One day, Carrier noticed some of those couch potato fellow teachers took part in downtown's 5K Color Run, where runners are doused in dyed powdered corn starch at intervals.

"I was like, 'Wait, you did a 5K and you tease me for running at 4 a.m., yet you ran a race?'" she says. "And they're like, 'Yeah, it's fun.' I was like, 'My gosh, if it's getting a teacher up and motivated to go, then why not do something that reaches every demographic?' Most people, after all, don't do competitive running."

Carrier is still looking for sponsors, she notes, who are crucial for getting the events off the ground.

Then again, she has a way of getting things done, even in the face of great odds. She went to college as the only one in her extended family, even when her parents told her it wasn't feasible. She walked on and made it onto her college cross country team.

She's qualified for the Boston Marathon, earned a master's degree in special education and this fall will begin her first year teaching autistic children in the Clark County School District.

"I want to be a role model for what I'm trying to build here, and I want it to be about being fit and having fun," she says. "I'm trying to build a community."

For information about the Sprinkler Sprint, go to signup.downtownrun.com.

Joe Schoenmann doesn’t just cover downtown, he lives and works there. Schoenmann is Greenspun Media Group’s embedded downtown journalist, working from an office in the Emergency Arts building.

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