What a year!

A new calendar year always brings optimism and renewed hope for better days to come. The Club is moving toward a “somewhat normal” schedule of events. Remember when real people lined up at a start line on an actual running course?

That is going to happen again in 2021.

Let’s first look back at some of the success stories from a year where the whole world suffered mental fatigue and was forced to make life-changing behaviors.

  • Our Beginning Running Group program was recognized as the Number 1 BRG program in America!  Led by Chika Okoro, assisted by Sara Shuler Thompson, and a loyal group of pacers, Chika was presented the award by the Road Runners Club of America. A most prestigious honor indeed.
  • Stan Linton and Adriana Piekarewicz made us proud with their outstanding performances at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Atlanta. Several dozen of our members lined the course to cheer them as they competed with the greatest runners in America.
  • Dan Manausa and the Club’s diversity committee led by Chris Turner raised $7,665 from 88 of our members and qualified for a $5,000 matching grant, ‘A Community Thrives’ (ACT) grant from the Gannett Foundation. The money will be used exclusively for outreach efforts to reach people in our community that may not have had access to running due to economic or physical barriers.
  • Our Race Directors have done an incredible job and have worked tirelessly to create quality running events. Race events before March were well attended and were very successful. Other RD’s had to reschedule, go virtual, or cancel because of the pandemic. Months of planning and replanning behind the scenes shows what quality people we have in those positions. Bill and Kelli Dillon, Mike Weyant, and Charlie Johnson with the Gulf Winds Tri Club created a new version of the St. Mark’s Duathlon. They designed a safe and successful race plan.
  • Generous donations to the Chenoweth Fund showed a large increase over previous years.
  • Our President, Paul Guyas, provided leadership, and the Officers, Directors, and Committee leaders all worked together to keep our club in sound financial condition even when few dollars were being deposited. They have done incredible work. A huge “thank you” to those rotating out of positions.
  • The Grand Prix Committee, under the direction of Mark Tombrink, got very creative with the awards presentations.

OK, let’s talk about 2021. I see some exciting, creative activities shaping up. Running may be thought of as a solitary sport, but runners know that it is a very social activity. I believe with all my heart that outdoor activities like walking, running, hiking, biking, and swimming are truly life-changing behaviors. Some good indicators that we are entering familiar territory again:

  • 30K/15K race directors Jillian Heddaeus and Zach DeVeau submitted a detailed event plan to get us back on the racing circuit in January.
  • Race Director Keith Rowe has us back running the Flash 12k/6k in February. He has taken safety to a higher elevation while keeping the event a reason to have some fun.
  • The ACT funds are going to help those potential athletes in our community who need some support. In turn, many will enter running events, and hopefully, some will become future officers in our club.

While the pandemic ridden 2020 year had success stories, with your help, 2021 will be much better. We are a volunteer organization that supports dozens of nonprofits in our community. Our officers, directors, and race directors work extremely hard to bring you quality events. Offer to volunteer. I have never seen a single event with this club that had too many volunteers.

Renew your membership. Talk to your friends and explain to them the benefits of joining the club. Send them to our website. Register for our events. Plan your club races like you plan your annual vacation.

The way we measured success in the past may not be how we define success this year. We must be better at what we do and do it in a safe manner to encourage the public to come out and participate. Our event planners and race directors are constantly fine-tuning those plans as we move forward. We are building this bridge as we cross it.

Some final thoughts.  I am very honored to be the Club’s next president. Running for an elected office, much like running a race, can be a humbling experience. Thank you for supporting me while I learn along the way. I truly solicit suggestions from those of you who did not vote for me. I promise to stay open-minded and not allow old habits to get in the way. Our club leaders have many years of collective wisdom and I will learn from them.  I need that wisdom along with the suggestions and support of new, non-traditional club members, to challenge me to be a better president.

Let me hear from you. Introduce yourself when you see me on the trails and streets. Stay safe out there and keep moving.

GWTC President

Mark Priddy