Running is Community
“Running is not, as it so often seems, only about what you did in your last race or about how many miles you ran last week. It is, in a much more important way, about community, about appreciating all the miles run by other runners, too.” — Richard O’Brien
I have the Dream Job of dream jobs working from home part time for our local running club (shameless plug: www.memphisrunners.com ). I’m incredibly proud of our club; with over 2,000 households (3,100 members) – and a file full of memberships to post sitting on my desk right now – we are one of the largest member clubs in the RRCA. In spring, 2010 MRTC was awarded the 2012 RRCA National Convention which will be held here in March. We have over 95 events on our annual calendar, about 60-65 are races with which we contract to provide finish services (this is our club income). Our club events include a twice a year KIDS! Run training program (recipient of a $1,000 grant from RRCA), a 10-week beginning women runner’s program (2010 Beginning Program award, RRCA), a 10-week Road Race Series consisting of two runs per month, July-November (5k building up to ½ marathon) with 1,367 full series participants in 2011, and a four-race Winter Cross Country series which proceeds go to a scholarship at the University of Memphis. This means a whole lot of runners and a whole lot of community!
*whew* if you got tired reading that…I’m pooped! AND – all of this is done completely by volunteers. Any of the club events listed above are also volunteer hours for me except the time I spend working at home on administrative details. Every bit – volunteers. Some of them aren’t even runners! Maybe they’re on the DL, or they used to run but joints quit or knees blew out, or they don’t run but their spouse/child/friend does. Nearly every weekend of the year these people get up early, leave their houses in the dark and show up to work races for other runners. Some of them will work the race, run the race and then work the race again afterward. If the race starts at 7am the core team is there around 5am, and if the race is over at 8am the core team will be there for another 1-1/2 hours or so. Volunteers take results home to compile; general turn-around on results is under 24 hours into the newspaper and online. All – you guessed it – volunteer. And after the race everyone that can goes to EAT FOOD! That’s community!
Between the several thousand members, the 60+ race directors and the general public it could be assumed that we would frequently deal with some pretty cranky people. And we do occasionally get some pretty hot emails. But the truth is, runners are just nice people. I can never decide if runners are nice because they run, or if nice people seem drawn to running.
My blessings thread themselves through the day. I’m alone most of the day, but I do not feel alone. I have a community that is literally worldwide. I get to manage both our Women Run/Walk Memphis FB page and the MRTC FB page; personally I’m involved in a 1212 in 2012 FB challenge and the enthusiasm and support on those pages is unwavering – Thumbs up and Way to Go! and you can do it! Awesome job! I’ve been there! — constantly challenging each other and uplifting each other.
Runners are community. They are community when they are running – but they remain community when they go home. Runners live their lives as runners, they are defined by it. I may be slow, I may be on the DL, I may just be coming back, but being a Runner defines me as much as being a mother or a wife or a friend. It’s not just what I do, it’s what I am. So when I’m here in my guest room at the MRTC headquarters I’m not here alone, I’m here with the running community that exists worldwide.
And just so you don’t feel to bad for me in my lonely garret surrounded by pizza boxes and 3-day-old half drank Diet Cokes, here’s a pic of my loyal support staff, Murph The Dog and Chunk The Kitten: