Has it been two years already? When I started the LRC I didn’t realize how all-consuming it would become. But that’s always been my personality. If I can’t give it 100%, I won’t do it. I didn’t want this to be a club that just offered a weekend long run that catered to marathon runners. Sure, that’s my race of choice but this was never about me; there are so many different types of runners for whom I want the LRC to be a resource. This is about building a community of like-minds, whether you’re capable of running a 16-minute mile, a sub-three-hour marathon, or a 100-mile ultra race – we are all runners. Fast, slow, in between – it doesn’t matter. Following the age-old formula of segregating our runners into pace groups would prevent them from getting to know and be inspired by all our runners and ultimately inhibit improvement. We start together and we finish together, often over food and drink. You’ll often find a “fast” runner slowing it down just to run with others, whether old friends or new, or a “turtle” kicking it way up in the heat of a fun moment. We pride ourselves in not being cliquey. Our camaraderie transcends everything, including age – nowhere else have I seen such a diverse group of runners have such a great time together. We run roads, we run trails, sometimes we bike or swim. We run in beautiful weather, we run in inclement weather. I find inspiration in all types of runners as most of you do and that’s why you won’t find the LRC catering to one particular niche.
In Year Two, we implemented free spring and fall marathon and half marathon training programs (teaming up with Fleet Feet Chicago’s Boston365 Program for the spring training in Barrington). We had more than twice as many runners at the track this year than in our first year with 230 participants! So many of you achieved PRs this year that I almost don’t mind when someone calls me Coach now. Many of you contributed chicken wings and watermelon to our track workouts. DJs showed up to the occasional hill workout to keep us motivated. Long runs were stocked with Gatorade… And wine. Well, the wine bottle always seemed to be empty by the time we got to it. We staged awesomely fun group half and full marathon trips to St. Louis, Denver, and Las Vegas. The LRC has 400+ shirts being worn around town, at the gym, and at races all around the world, and now we’re moving into hats and jackets. Our at-the-drive-in style logo stirs up many a conversation, doesn’t it? I’ve even overheard strangers – people who I know for a fact have not run with us yet – talk about needing to get their hands on a singlet.
Speaking of races, we entered the race management arena this year. This is something I’ve always wanted to do but it had to be done right and it had to be distinctive. Many of you know that upon moving here, I became the co-race director of Libertyville’s Twilight Shuffle 5K. I love the spirit of both that race and this town. With two years of growing the LRC network, the time was right for us to host our own similarly unique and well-organized race. With your help, Run of the Dead was a success and even more fun! This event will continue with the addition of other events planned for next year.
As a club, we offered our assistance and brand of enthusiasm at local races. From hosting the Run of the Dead race, co-hosting the Lamb’s Farm Fit & Fun Family event, assisting with all aspects of the Twilight Shuffle 5K, and manning aid stations and cheer sections at multiple races, you gave back to our community. We painted a better picture of who the LRC is with the Monthly Member Spotlight articles. We staged the first brewery pub run early this year as a fundraiser for The Water Project and saved Christmas by delivering 164 toys at our Toys for Tots Run. We will host similar and new charitable events in the future as the Club broadens its focus on charity.
Looking back on these two years, I’m impressed with our growth and what we provide for the community. I’m encouraged when I see other running clubs now similarly stimulating their runners. Clubs and stores are utilizing social media (and the promise of beer and donuts) more effectively as a result of seeing how powerful a tool it has been for the LRC to engage an audience. As a result, running communities are becoming more focused on being fun, supportive, and interactive. Isn’t that what running should be all about?
With an accountant and a lawyer at the helm, we structured the LRC legally as a corporation this year and we are considering applying for 501(c)(3) status. I’m actually longing to achieve that tax-preferred status given to churches and religious organizations (running is our religion, right?), but my lawyer is much more cautious. What does this legal stuff mean? It means that we will continue to do as I set out to do when I founded the LRC: encourage and promote a fun and active lifestyle and enhance our running and greater community-at-large through educational, programming, charitable, and various other efforts. No one, including none of the directors (myself, Melissa Brunette, and Nick Molsen) will profit from the Club’s activities, including our new venture into race management. All proceeds are therefore set to enhance our community through the Club’s offerings. Makes you feel good about your membership dues doesn’t it? Oh, wait. LRC doesn’t have dues, never mind.
As we enter our third year as the little-running-club-that-could, I sincerely want to thank you. Your continued participation and support fan the flames of the endless passion and enthusiasm I expel toward fostering our commitment to build and strengthen a unique running community. Thank you for taking that leap and showing up to a run or event. I’m confident that you’re glad you did and if you haven’t yet, that you will be.