Growing up in a small town, Tanya Carrier discovered a talent?and more importantly, a passion?for running at the age of 13. Running helped give her confidence and identity in high school. It helped see her through college, as the only member of her extended family to attend. It taught her discipline, which guided her in qualifying for the Boston Marathon, earning a master's degree in special education, and, ultimately, founding Downtown Runners. As she told Joe Schoenmann of the Las Vegas Sun, she created the organization to share her passion with others and to provide an outlet for people to exercise together.
Tanya knows that Las Vegas already has its fair share of 5Ks, so she planned her inaugural two for the off seasons. Her first race, the Sprinkler Sprint 5K, offsets summer's heat with watery obstacles, such as squirt guns, water cannons, and Slip 'n Slides. Her second 5K takes its inspiration from strip poker, encouraging runners to bundle up against the winter chill with clothes they'd like to donate to charity, losing a layer at predetermined stops along the route. For each item of clothing lost, they get a playing card to use in a poker hand at the end of the race. Winning hands can be used to claim prizes or bluff other racers into believing they haven't even started running yet.