I have certain aspirations in the running world, both for my own running as well as to promote the sport (especially to new runners). I haven't found a place within this area that satisfies what I'm looking for in a running club; I tried to create what I desired/needed within an established club, but realized that it was a waste of time. So, after giving it a very sincere go, I realized that I need to create an outlet for my time/ideas. Luckily I have some very dedicated, experienced people by my side who are as interested in this as I am.
There are numerous running groups (similar to the Towpath Turtles) who are members of local clubs but rarely attend club events. The RRCA provides thorough, in-depth guidance on starting a new club; it is also VERY daunting. So, what those of us who are going to give this thing a go have decided to do is take it one step at a time. We will aspire to be a "big tent" to the many groups in the area (Towpath Turtles, Towpath Trotters, Trinity Trotters, Phillips Phyllers, etc.) The goal of the first year is to sign-up 100 new members. And roll-out annual expansion goals one year at a time. We will have a very small board and will not incorporate the first year.
This new club does not overlap with anything found in this area; In this club we seek to provide:
Networking - A place to meet/run with other runners who represent a wide variety of skill/experience/paces. Also a way to meet runners from beyond one's circle of acquaintances.
Workouts - A place to do regular (weekly) workouts (track/hills/long runs) with other runners of different abilities/paces.
Races/Runs - We have come up with 2-3 annual races to establish in the first two years. This would not be the club's focus - the focus is on RUNNING and we cannot do that if we are a race services organization. 2-3 large fun runs would be feasible though.
Travel - A way to travel to races with other runners that we run with/who are from this area and who regularly travel to races. Why are there 10 cars driving to Columbus, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati when there could be one large (party) van full of chatting excited runners?
Coaching and mentoring and training - The community is chock full of knowledge, experience and education - I did not find a way to tap into this in the slightest in the past 4 years. We would encourage (and in limited cases, fund) runners to attend conventions, seminars and other training.
Pacers - Why not show off our talent? ANYONE (even I) is capable of pacing someone else to their next PR.
Clubhouse/IDs - Having a designated running club "clubhouse" is a great idea that I heard at the 2010 RRCA Convention that went nowhere. Runners could meet there before/after runs to socialize with other runners. We could host yoga/pilates/other workouts there as well as have meetings and other gatherings. It would be a tangible presence in the community that has potential to bring in other runners who do not normally join clubs. Along the same line we would offer new members ID cards and a branded club shirt.
Social non-running events - Group outings to see running movies, community shows/events/parties, etc.
Volunteering/Charity - Opportunities to volunteer/donate to organizations in the running community (and beyond).
Discounts - We could support/promote the local running stores and other relevant businesses (Main Street Cupcakes comes to mind) if they would offer our members discounts.
We have batted around numerous names for the club. So far finding a name has been the most difficult part of getting on with this. We agreed that the most important factor was to avoid choosing a regional name nor any that is partially used (or overused) in an established club/race/non-running organization. This made most of our "catchy titles" moot.
As of now, we have decided to call it simply "The Running Club" (pronounced "Thee Running Club" vs. Tha Running Club). I don't want to continue to hash this over to death - but your feedback is welcome.
All of these goals will be achieved, but not all at the same time/the onset. Obviously we'll need funding and sponsors for some of these items (such as the clubhouse/shirts/ID cards). However, we plan to roll The Running Club out with a booth at the "Summit Up" expo at the J.S Knight Center on May 7th (application pending).