Candidate Statement: Alan Gowen

Back in the day some guys got together, formed a club, put on races, and acted zany.  Despite their funny hats, the apparent lunacy wasn’t lunacy at all.  It was in fact cleverly disguised attention to detail that earned them a reputation for creating some of the most fun, and best organized events to be found anywhere.  These founding fathers called their oddball creation the Virginia Happy Trails Running Club.

Alan GowenIs it, I believe, really important to remember where the club came from.  Unquestionably we shouldn’t live in the past, but how the club was founded and how it has evolved, is the very thing that attracted each and every one of us to the VHTRC in the first place. We saw in the VHTRC something carefully crafted by the club’s founding fathers that was just so plain cool that we all had to be a part of it.

Now we are about to cross a threshold.  Whatever the outcome of this election, the VHTRC will for the first time in the club’s history, seat a board of directors that doesn’t include any of the club’s founding fathers.  And whereas this may or may not be a big deal, it is the jumping off point for what is to come.  Because as carefully as the founders crafted the VHTRC brand….. they didn’t necessarily write everything down.  Oh, we have written policies for a lot of things, but many other policies have evolved with the club and since the founders all knew what they wanted, there really wasn’t any need to further define how these guys thought things should be.

Do we give complimentary entry to any “elite” runners or otherwise encourage them to participate in our races?  Do we advertise our races? Does everyone have an equal chance of getting into a VHTRC event? Does any profit from one year’s race go toward funding any portion of the following year’s race?  Do we work to make our club bigger? No, no, yes and no, no, and no.  These examples of what makes us who we are, aren't written down anywhere because the founders already knew among themselves what they wanted to do.  I think I’ve gotten a pretty good handle on some of the subtleties of how these traditions work to make our club special and I think I’m in a good position to provide insights to the next board into how some of our unwritten policies make VHTRC the special club it has become.
As the longest serving board member running this time, I see my place on the new board as continuing to work to see that the VHTRC retains the attributes that attracted our members and me to it in the first place, while at the same time embracing new ideas.  The founders put a lot of thought into what they were crafting, and I hope to share what I've learned during my time serving on the board.  At the same time, I believe some changes might be in order, and there are in fact a few things I would like to change. More member involvement in the workings of several areas of the club, and more low key runs, for starters. I’ve already proposed, and the current board is working on bringing some resolution to our club property storage and tracking issues, and this is another place where more member involvement will prove to be invaluable.  I see myself working to insure that we continue to walk that very fine line between tradition and evolution.  Outstanding and mediocre. If we succumb to the belief that we always have, and therefore always will put on outstanding events in an exceptional manner, it will be all but impossible to insure that complacency doesn’t betray our ideals.

As a board member, I won't work to make VHTRC the biggest, "best," or flashiest, club anywhere or anything like that. What I will do is work to insure that the club is an accurate reflection, not of what the board of directors decrees, but rather of what its diverse membership desires.  I want to continue the club’s traditions, while at the same time formulating a clear direction for the future, and acting upon that vision to guarantee that the club continues to evolve in a way that is faithful to its past, while at the same time embracing new ideas.

As I do with most things of importance in my life, at some point I feel the need to step up and take some ownership of that which affects me. This is one of those times.