Footnotes~~Volume 28, Number 2: Summer 2000
PEACHY TIME AT THE RRCA NATIONAL CONVENTION
by Jim Hage
Peachtree City, Ga., May 11-Day one at Camp RRCA started early-7
a.m.-with a trail run. Some 50 early risers logged five up-and-down
miles before outgoing President Don Kardong and Executive Director
Henley Gabeau made official opening remarks to the approximately
For many, the morning run actually marked a second foray along
the bike paths, trails and (shh!) golf courses of Peachtree City,
as New Balance had hosted a kick-off run the prior evening as well.
A Meet the Board reception and some well-earned refreshments followed
that evening's registration and workout.
But post-run, Thursday morning was all business at the lovely Wyndham
Hotel and Conference Center. The opening workshop featured Kim Ottaviani
from the Miami Runners Club, who hosted a discussion titled "Running
R Us" on children's running. Kim, an elementary school teacher in
Miami, discussed the growth of children's running, various and surprising
motivations for young runners, at what age and how far children
should run, and how adult running is but a grownup version of child's
play. The audience was engaged and well-behaved; no timeouts were
Simultaneously and in the adjoining room, there was a panel on
"Running in the 21st Century," covering club and race technology
for a room full of running geeks (or is that redundant?). A panel
of experts, including Hal Higdon from Runner's World, addressed
a wide range of topics concerning the Internet, club web sites and
how to maximize the benefits they provide.
Tim Scott, Senior Vice President at Active.com (formerly RaceGate.com)
suggested that running in the future is not as much about technology
as it is about innovation and change. "There's lots of neat stuff
out there, such as video technology featuring web cams, that have
more of a 'Gee, Whiz!' than practical appeal," Scott said. "Our
job is to maximize existing technology such as online registration,
credit card security and web site utilization."
Don Kardong hosted perhaps the most entertaining and intriguing
panel of the weekend, the "All-Star Panel" featuring four Olympians:
Frank Shorter, 1972 Olympic marathon gold medalist; Jeff Galloway,
1972 Olympian at 10,000 meters; Ralph Boston, three-time Olympic
long jump medalist, now a Peachtree City resident; and himself.
(Lest we forget, our Donnie finished fourth in the 1976 Olympic
Marathon in Montreal.)
Kardong recounted how, ever since running 4 minutes 30 seconds
for the mile in high school, he had been dogged by the question:
Are you going to try out for the Olympics? Kardong realized better
than his inquisitors that making an Olympic team entailed years
of hard work, and he never took the question seriously until he
continued to improve after college. A bout of mononucleosis derailed
Kardong's chance for making the 1972 team, but he learned from running
far back in the pack with eventual fourth place finisher Galloway
that the marathon is often a race of attrition.
"After that, I used the Galloway method-the old Galloway method,
that is-of coming from behind. I didn't walk," he chided his fellow
panelist. Utilizing what he termed an "incremental approach to training,"
Kardong eventually returned to top form. Although he was not a favorite
to make the team in '76, much less nearly earn a medal in the games,
his strategy served him well.
Kardong then introduced Shorter as "the only man to twice have
an impostor finish the Olympic marathon ahead of him," referring
to the famous fraud who entered the stadium in Munich as well as
the 1976 gold medalist from East Germany, Waldemar Cierpinski, who
is suspected of having used performance-enhancing drugs.
Shorter described his work as a member of International Olympic
Committee's drug enforcement team, and how, while out for a lunchtime
jog along Lake Geneva during a meeting in Lausanne, he was elected
chairman of a task force. Shorter took a swipe at U.S. marathoners,
all of whom failed to meet the Olympic qualifying time under difficult
conditions during the recent trials. "If you can't break 2:33 [for
women] or 2:14 [for men] then you don't deserve to go," he said.
"The standards are there for a reason."
Galloway recounted his days as a serious runner, and when he first
decided he would try to make the Olympic team. He won the inaugural
Peachtree Roadrace in 1970-beating 115 other runners-and a reporter
asked: What next? "Without ever having considered it before, I told
him I would like to make the Olympic team." And thus a seed was
But the Olympian who offered the freshest perspective on competition
was not a distance runner at all, but Ralph Boston, who won gold,
silver and bronze medals in the long jump in 1960, '64 and '68,
respectively: "I knew enough to get out after that," Boston quipped.
THEY DINE, THEY WHINE, THEY RUN (AGAIN)
Bart Yasso regaled members with tales and slides from his running
adventures around the world, notably in Antarctica on a trip sponsored
by Boston-based Tom Gilligan and Marathon Tours. Yasso's tales of
long days and nights aboard a rocking ship from Patagonia likely
chilled the fervor of many would-be marathoners to the seventh continent;
then again, his sense of adventure probably fired the imagination
of just as many more.
In the first afternoon session, the woman who would be president,
Freddi Carlip, a.k.a. Miss Road Manners, discussed proper race etiquette-or
the lack thereof-demonstrated by many new runners. Her Eminence
presided over a loosely styled debate between John "The Penguin"
Bingham, and this writer, Jim "The Pundit" Hage. Feathers flew,
or they would have, had not the discriminating and always correct
Miss R. M. orchestrated in her inimitable fashion.
The Penguin preached the gospel of inclusiveness, and made a case
for those who can't run: They should walk, he said. The Pundit argued
for standards in racing, marathons and life generally. It is doubtful
few opinions were changed, but hopefully panelists at least felt
better for getting that stuff off their chests.
A forum hosted by Gabeau, Kardong and Peter Casals covered some
of the topical issues facing the national office, including insurance
and liability, as well as the pros and cons of last fall's highly
visible third annual "RRCA National Run to Work Day," launched in
1997 by Kardong.
Workshops on stretching and massage, hosted by Brooks Coville,
and club promotions, hosted by Jim Stasaitis (he of Utica, N.Y.,
and the haircuts) ran concurrently. Ellie Norwitch and Jim Hite
A short "Guess the Distance Run" followed the day's extensive mental
efforts. Members of the Peachtree City Running Club, ubiquitous
and helpful all weekend as the meeting's hosts, marked the course
and provided water stops.
An outdoor Bar-B-Q-poolside, thank you-followed. Diners were serenaded
throughout by the mellifluous plainsong of auctioneers Phil Stewart
and Jeff Darman, who raised beaucoup bucks for worthy RRCA causes,
including the Roads Scholar Program, during the Running Times Auction.
AND ON THE SECOND DAY
Again, New Balance hosted a 7:00 a.m. trail run; reports are that
it was well-attended. After breakfast and a general session, conventioneers
broke into workshops. "Dollars & Sensibility," hosted by RRCA
Secretary/Treasurer Jeff Hollister, cut to the heart of many of
the difficult legal and financial issues that running clubs face.
RRCA Deputy Executive Director and general all-around stalwart Anna
Berdahl continued her farewell tour, and deftly answered questions
regarding insurance and tax exemption status. After a coffee break,
sponsored with southern hospitality throughout the convention by
the Atlanta Track Club, attendees sharpened their pencils and returned
for a second hour.
Meantime, self-described "old-time runner" John Boyle moderated
"Over the Hill, Miles to Go," on masters and seniors running. Western
Regional Director Po Adams and USATF masters long distance running
chair Jerry Crockett ably assisted.
John Farrow, twice named Western Region club writer of the year,
hosted a workshop on newsletter writing and editing. Dave O'Brian,
editor of the Badger RRCA newsletter in Wisconsin, provided expertise
on soliciting and placing ads. Freddi Carlip added insight on how
editing a regional publication, Runner's Gazette in Pennsylvania,
can be a springboard to national club prominence.
Mike Cook, who has worked for Nike and Reebok, discussed what corporations
look for in leading a discussion on finding and keeping sponsors.
For savvy investors and definitely off the record, Mike also provided
insider trading tips. Gail Johnson from the Rome (not Italy, but
Georgia) Runners Club and Marlene Atwood, who has handled sponsorship
for the Chattahoochee Road Runners, assisted.
Runner's World sponsored every runner's second favorite activity-lunch,
during which RRCA state representatives were recognized and some
business actually completed. State reps had attended an orientation
session earlier in the morning, where they had been coached to stand
and thank Runner's World at the lunch meeting; they executed their
In addition to enjoying informative workshops, fine convention
facilities and lovely weather and training conditions in Peachtree
City, convention attendees relished most the camaraderie of their
fellow club members, many of whom began the weekend as casual acquaintances
or even strangers and ended as good friends. The workshops and discussions
sparked myriad new ideas that were kicked around over dinner, during
runs and throughout the following weeks. That synergy is the legacy
of the 43rd National RRCA Convention; and the goal of the 44th next
year in Albuquerque.
Jim Hage is a nationally ranked masters runner. He finished
eighth in the 1992 Olympic trials marathon.