From the Top
So, letÛªs start at the top, or very close to the top of the world. Somerville Road Runners member John Wichers may be renowned for his running exploits, but the latest SRR news includes a stunning photograph of John conquering Mt. Kilimanjaro. The location of the shot is amazing enough, but even more shocking is the fact that John is smiling widely, bedecked in only his bright yellow SRR singlet, despite an ambient air temperature of eight degrees, and who knows about the wind chill factor, at the top of the African continent. Brrrrr! But the SRR also is one hot club at the top, top of the list that is. SRR was recently recognized as the winner in the Boston.com A-List competition as the top running club in Boston. With 83,000 votes cast, the recognition catapulted the club from its fourth place finish in 2010 to the top spot this year. Congratulations SRR.
A little bit closer to home, here are two other tales of prodigious accomplishments of distinctly different colors, both achieved in support of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. In June, Gate City Strider Dave Salvas undertook his second consecutive cross-New Hampshire run, beginning at the U.S./Canadian border on the Daniel Webster Highway and finishing up almost 220 miles later on the DWH at the Nashua/Tyngsboro, Massachusetts border. Between June 23 and June 30, Dave planned to average of 27.36 miles of running, not walking, per day in honor and memory of family members and close friends who have been touched by cancer.
Staying with the theme of awesome accomplishments, Ed Gillen of the Hudson Mohawk Road Runners Club stunned onlookers when he recently won the pizza eating contest held at the Orchard Tavern in Albany. Ed consumed three full pizzas in a record time of seven minutes, a feat that helped him to earn the new moniker, Big Ed Gillen, the Pizza Eating Monster. And, of course, what recitation of stirring accomplishments would be complete without a Dan Dodson of the Mystic Runers update. Soon after celebrating his 39th wedding anniversary with his wife Mary Jo, Dan recorded his 64th race in 2011 as of June 12, a recent string of races that includes the 13.1 mile Amica Iron Horse Half Marathon held on June 5. At his current pace, and barring injury, Dan is on pace to complete 140 ÛÒ 150 races for 2011 before 2012 rolls around.
It seems that just yesterday a novel concept in running club focus took hold with the founding of the New England 65+ Running Club. Well, in the latest NE65+ newsletter, member Barbara Robinson points out that the club celebrated its 20th anniversary last June. ÛÏThe idea for our club took root after a workout on the Andover Academy (MA) track in early 1991. Ray Cormier and Lou Peters were discussing how older runners needed more respect and better treatment. They discussed having an organization that would advance the cause of older runnersÛ_The original goals remain true today. They are to promote greater recognition for senior athletesÛ_ to promote physical exerciseÛ_ and to develop a spirit of good fellowship among all its members and the running community.Û From six to more than 600 members in 20 years, congratulations NE 65+. Of course the Westerly Track and Athletic Club celebrated an anniversary of a slightly different nature this summer with the staging of the 36th annual Tom McCoy Fun Run series. Every Wednesday night, from June through August, kids and adults flock to the beach at Misquamicut, Rhode Island for either 5K or 1-mile races with no entry fee. Mr. McCoy is always present to send off the kids and there are trophies and ice cream certificates for frequent participants. For a club with an individual membership fee of $5, or $8 for a family membership, this series is a summer gem.
Can You Spare a Few Dimes?
While on the subject of affordable running clubs, the Upper Valley Running Club, in affiliation with the Lebanon Recreation and Parks Department, offers a $5 annual membership fee, with a $10 requested donation. But hereÛªs the kicker. According to the clubÛªs by-laws, ÛÏAnnual VRCE dues for all membership categories are established by the UVRC board of directors (ÛÏboardÛ). However, dues increases of more than 5% in a year (currently that would be 25 cents) must be approved by a majority vote of the UVRC membership.Û Not a bad deal for a club with an ambitious schedule of races, events and organized workouts.
Reimbursements Reinstated and Pondered
In the last edition of Club Notes, we noted that the Tri-Valley FrontRunners had temporarily suspended its race reimbursement program for the first quarter of 2011 due to heavy subscription by its members. True to its word, the club re-opened reimbursements with the arrival of the second quarter of 2011, and sustained the program into the third quarter beginning in July. Pre-registration costs up to $25 are covered. In fact, the club must be financially faring fairly well as member ÛÏRay Lussier volunteered to help lead a Finance Committee to disperse some of the clubÛªs funds in a structured and equitable way,Û surely a pleasant situation to be facing. Speaking of a structured dispersal of club funds, the Central Vermont Runners Treasurer Linda Hallinger reported last May that less than six months into 2011, the club had made more than $10,000 in charitable donations. ThatÛªs what you call ÛÏgiving back.Û
Meanwhile, Rhode Island Road Runners President Kevin Brennan recently pondered whether a reduced entry fee program should be initiated with his club. He questioned, ÛÏIf you donÛªt run many/any grand PrixÛªs, is cost a factor? Do you feel like your members in a club our size should merit a benefit like a reduced race entry fee? Would it encourage you to maintain your membership? Recruit others? Tell me if you think I should or shouldnÛªt pursue it.Û
Just Cruising Along
A membership benefit that the 2,400+-member, super-active Hudson Mohawk Road Runners Club offers is a $5,000 medical expense insurance liability policy for volunteers. Does your club provide similar coverage? And hereÛªs another benefit. Since HMRRC survives as an all volunteer organization thanks to members who devote huge amounts of time and effort to its many races, the club recently budgeted nearly $4,000 to be allocated to staging a social/networking thank you event on the Captain JP, a 600-passenger lavish, four-deck cruise ship that plies the Hudson River from the docks in Troy, New York. Now, thatÛªs a spectacular volunteer appreciation event! Of course, you donÛªt need to thank volunteers to organize a summer cruise. So, the WinnerÛªs Circle Running Club decided last summer to replace their August club meeting with a Friday evening summer boat cruise on the M/V Thomas Laighton which sails from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. At a cost of only $16 for a 3-hour cruise through the Piscataqua River and Portsmouth Harbor, WCRC members could certainly afford to forego one monthÛªs worth of club business discussion for a night of dancing and frivolity.
The Rise of New Newsletters
The proliferation of sophisticated and information-packed running club websites has, in many instances, signaled the decline of regularly published club newsletters. In some cases, clubs have integrated ÛÏnewslettersÛ into their websites, and dispensed with hard copies all together. Yet, itÛªs probably neither without a hint of nostalgia nor the utilitarian nature of a hard copy newsletter that last spring the Cape Cod Athletic Club discussed ÛÏthe prospect of a new Club newsletter ÛÒ 2-page format to include the PresidentÛªs letter, Club contributions to other charities, Club banquet pictures, etc.Û This may not be such a bad idea in this era of information overload.
ÛÏOverloadÛ is a fairly apt description of the clamor that has become relatively routine with respect to registration for the Boston Athletic AssociationÛªs two signature events ÛÒ the B.A.A. Boston Marathon and the B.A.A. Half Marathon. And the buzz builds as the 2011 edition of the B.A.A. Half Marathon reached its registration limit of 7,000 runners in mid-July, only three hours and 50 minutes after online registration opened. Yes, you need to be quick on the keyboard in order to register for some of these hyper-popular B.A.A. events.
L-StreetÛªs Billboard Bonanza
One thing that the B.A.A. did not need to do to attract half-marathon entries was to use billboard advertising. But, in what may be a first for the New England region, L Street Running Club member Michelle Dannaher managed to secure four electronic billboard messages posted along Interstate 93 promoting the clubÛªs signature running event, the Jim Kane Sugar Bowl. So how did things go? Well, on one of the most horrifically hot and humid nights for running all summer, if not in recent memory, 720 runners braved 95-degree temperatures to finish this traditional mid-summer favorite. No word on how effective the billboards proved to be.
Finally, a charitable program that the Long Island Road Runners Club supports is undeniably very effective. ItÛªs called Cell Phones for Soldiers. U.S. soldiers around the world stay in touch with loved ones at home with cell phone technology. Even though their calls are not free (up to $5 per minute), many soldiers donÛªt even own a cell phone that gives them the opportunity to connect. Hence, the LIRRC is now placing cell phone collection boxes at every weekly race in hopes that runners will recycle their older cell phones in a true spirit of altruism for our troops. The LIRRC notes, ÛÏOur collection helps them to stay in touch with loved ones. LetÛªs do our part. God bless our troops!Û