President's Column - October 2023

Jerry McDaniel, President

Running with a group has many benefits. Gets you out the door to run when you may not want to because you are meeting others. Helps the miles pass as you chat about your life or hear about others. Can create healthy in-group challenges or competitions. Maybe learn insights into training methods of others or share yours. You can meet new and interesting people as they join the group. I experienced all of these things as a version of this concept before it was cool… I was an original member of the “Racing Sloths” – a self-named (takeoff on the old “Racing South” magazine) but close knit group of about a dozen guys (and occasionally one woman) – that met out of a downtown state office building during the bulk of my government career. We all worked in or in the vicinity of the Carlton Building downtown and met daily at 11:45, rain, sun, heat, cold, snow, sleet – we met… because you always knew there was going to be someone there. There were 4-5 courses (roughly 5 miles) we ran, all of which had names for various reasons – “quaker muerto” (we once saw a dead duck on this run and two of our group were Cubans); “stairway to heaven” – super hilly course; “North Carolina” – top of the golf course at Capital City Golf Club; and of course, “FSU” for obvious reasons. Each Friday was FSU – and we always ran a hard mile at the track as part of this run. There were bets on this mile at times as to who could win or given the knowledge in the group of each of our abilities, how close you could come to someone when they finished the mile. These bets extended to weekend races around town.

Payoff? More often than not, the winner would have to “buy dogs”. The payoff would occur the next FSU Friday run, following a loss in a bet. Our route back from the FSU track on Fridays took us through campus. There was always a hot dog vendor (dog man) in front of Strozier Library on campus, and we decided that the loser of any given bet, would buy one hotdog and a coke for whoever happened to be running on payoff day. So potentially 12 hotdogs and 12 cokes. We would stop, consume them fast and belch all the way back up the hill downtown, shower quickly and back to work. Showers were in the basements of most of the old downtown state office buildings. The logistics of getting on average, 8-10 sweaty guys showered and back to work timely with one shower was a sight to behold, or maybe not. I have a million stories of things that occurred on these runs through the years (full eclipses, stopped and interviewed by a TV station on an 8-degree day, runs to homicide scenes) but mostly we came to know each other’s families and the ups and downs that come with life. We helped each other cope when there was a need and celebrated when times were good. For me, a difficult and trying morning at work cluttered with meetings and seemingly unsolvable problems gained a fresh and renewed perspective and energy after a run with the boys! What started as a simple group run, morphed into a lifetime of close-knit friends and family. We have traveled into Canada and out west on bike packing adventures, back backed in the Smoky Mountains, traveled far and wide to run marathons together, and to this day still have Sloth Christmas parties! Clearly, the way the Sloths grew to love one another is likely the exception, and not the rule, but it is nice to have someone to run with occasionally or even every day! The GWTC website has many run group opportunities, both seasonal and year-round, and VP Jennifer Hay has been instrumental in creating a FB GWTC Group run site that is up and active. Check it out! What life experiences may come from your group runs?

FROM THE PRESIDENT

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