VHTRC President's Page

VHTRC President Alan GowenVHTRC club president Alan Gowen posts his thoughts about the club, its events, and running in the woods. E-Mail Alan at: alangowen@gmail.com

Updated date: July 13, 2016 - 7:52am

President of the VHTRC.  Sounds kind of important, doesn’t it?  Well, in a way it is sort of important, or at least I take it that way.

Every two years the club elects a new board of directors, and that newly elected board, as their first order of business, selects the club president.  The club is not a business, or run like a business where the president can mandate his will.  The VHTRC is run by the board of directors and the president’s one vote carries no more weight than the vote of any other board member.  But even though the president and the other board members have an equal vote, the bylaws of the VHTRC were intentionally written to give the president quite a bit of power.   The bylaws state:

“The president represents the Club externally, sets the agenda of the Club, calls Board meetings, and manages the affairs of the Club. The president shall set the time, manner, and place of all Board meetings and shall preside over all Board meetings. The president may, with the approval of the Board, appoint committees to further Club purposes.”  The bylaws further state:

“The president shall set the agenda of the meeting. While the president should consult Board members on desired agenda items, it is the president’s responsibility to set the agenda.”

The president’s responsibility of managing the club’s affairs means, among other things, that the president usually has a pretty full plate of items requiring his or her time and attention.

Over the past 24 years the VHTRC has had four presidents.  First was Chris Scott who was “President for life.”  OK, he didn’t die, but he moved to California, and Joe Clapper became our “President till he gets it right.”  I’m not sure Clapper ever did get it right, but somehow Mike Bur got the job, and for the past 6-1/2 years, the job has been mine.

So now to get to the point.  I’m writing something here I never thought I would, but life’s circumstances leave me no choice.  On July 13, 2016 I will step down as president of the VHTRC.  Time consuming issues with aging parents, and mounting pressures brought on by the restructuring of my business do not allow me the time to do the job the VHTRC hired me to do.  In all things I undertake I strive to do my best.  Right now, the VHTRC is not getting my best effort.  This is something I can tolerate no longer, and this is the reason I must step aside.

But don’t despair!  I’m not going away.  I may no longer have the time to be president, but I do have some time to serve the club and thus I shall retain my seat on the board.  The board has a multitude of issues facing it, and I’m looking forward to continuing to help in any way I can. I plan to continue to bring items of importance to the board, and to remain involved with our club.

I’m very pleased to announce that the board met via teleconference on July 7, 2016.  At that meeting I nominated Keith Knipling to be the fifth president of the VHTRC.  He was elected by a unanimous vote, and so now it’s his turn.  The club needs a guy like Keith at the helm.  He’s part of the new generation moving into the club and yet he was there back in the day.  I have confidence he can do a great job, and I look forward to continuing to work with him, and I wish him well.

If you have any questions about the board, the club president, or anything else for that matter, just let me know.  I look forward to seeing everyone out on the trails soon.

Happy Trails!

Updated date: May 6, 2016 - 9:59am

Our club is growing.  In fact, our membership is increasing at its fastest rate ever.  A year ago our membership was about 500, and today it is over 580.  I don’t think there is any particular advantage to getting bigger, and historically we have never done anything to try to increase our numbers.  That was never an objective.  The objective was, and still is, to get out there and run trails, all the while welcoming anyone at all who wants to join in the fun.  What draws folks to our club is the ability to join with our friends, show up at our events, run carefree on great trails, and then hang out afterwards to enjoy the fellowship we hold so dear.  That’s the upside.  But if we’re going to have all that fun, someone has to figure out how to make all this carefree bliss on the trails work.  Therefore, if there is any downside to growing our membership, it is that we seem to have achieved the critical mass so that now more than ever, our club requires some real governance.  In this regard, the Board really can’t afford to be the Bored, because it is the job of the Board to be the adult in the room and take care of the business of the club. Someone needs to pay attention to all the pesky details, and see to it that we have just enough structure to make the magic happen.   Because while everyone is out there having fun, someone needs to know where the toilet paper is kept, if you know what I mean.

So what kind of business has the Board been taking care of you ask?

VHTRC Events
You may have noticed that in the past year some members have stepped forward to direct new events, revive once established runs, or to direct races that heretofore were never under the VHTRC umbrella.  In 2014 the VHTRC offered five more fat ass runs than in 2013, and there are more to come in 2015

Boyers Furnace 40 Mile became an official VHTRC event in December 2013 with Carter Weicking as the RD.  Also, this past September Kirstin Corris and her crew stepped up and after several years of dormancy, revived Steve and Amy Platt’s classic Big Schloss 50km and gave it new life as an official VHTRC event.  Not to be outdone, Gary and Quatro put together the PB&J 50km in October, and it was an immediate hit.  After a one year hiatus, Alisa Springman and Sue Malone brought back Holy Cowan’s Gap 50km in May.  Also, after a one year break, Kerry and Doug were once again at the helm of the Potomac Heritage Trail 50km in its traditional November time slot. And finally, after 14 years of staging his Catherine’s FA 50km, Jeff Reed decided it was time to call it a day.  Fortunately for us Dan Aghdam stepped forward and now you can look for this race to become an official VHTRC run this coming July.

This is sort of what I meant about the growing club requiring more oversight.  We now have this growing list of “Official VHTRC Events.” But that sort of means we have to know what an official run is doesn’t it?  That old snowball effect. Anyway, not all bureaucracy is bad I guess, and so the Board created a definition of just exactly what being an official event means. BTW, including the Awards Party and the Volunteer Party, the VHTRC now has twenty four official events.

More Good Bureaucracy
As we add new events, put more and more folks out on the trails, and encourage new runners to join in the fun, we also need to be sure we have taken the initiative for responsible oversight.  In this regard the Board punched up our event entry waiver, made it uniform among our events, and adopted a new medical policy for the club and the runs we sponsor.

Something New
As we add more events to our roster, we need to see to it that all our race directors have access to the infrastructure their event requires.  This sounds simple, but with our runs scattered all over Washington, Virginia, Maryland, and even Pennsylvania, it can be quite a chore to be sure our shared coolers, canopies, and such, are accessible to those who need them.  We also have found that MMT and BRR now require significant storage space.  Thus, the Board approved funding a new larger storage space at the Caroline Furnace Camp for equipment needed for MMT and other runs in the Fort Valley, and we have also rented storage space at Hemlock Overlook Park for the storage of equipment needed for BRR and other runs in the northern Virginia and environs. Dave Woll has stepped forward to be the Storage Czar, and we’re hopeful that with his help we can provide a solution to a growing problem.

One of the few knocks against our club in the past has been that we didn’t offer many training runs; especially training runs close to home.  Keith Knipling and Rob Colenso have solved this lomg standing problem with the hugely popular Sundays in the Park series that goes off every Sunday and which has proven to be a great way for folks to get out on some terrific trails, meet new friends, and find out a little more of what we are all about.

All of our policies and important documents are available at the Members Only Center on our website.

So there you have it.  What has come to define the VHTRC are the hang loose, carefree, zany, madcap antics we’re famous for.  All made possible by our members pitching in and seeing to it that the business of the club is taken care of.  The Board tries first and foremost to always remember we’re just a bunch of folks who like to get together and run.  We try to keep it simple and strike the perfect balance between our roots and our future.  And whereas we’d all love to just run through the mountains without a care in the world, someone always has to be sure our taxes are filed and our insurance is paid.  Someone has to be thinking, “what if?”

If you have any comments about our policies, club governance, or anything else at all, I’d love to hear from you.

Happy Trails!

Updated date: January 18, 2014 - 12:31pm

We’re all familiar with the President’s State of The Union Speech.  But I’m not making a speech, and, well, I’m not that president.  So I thought I’d keep things in perspective and take a shot at the State of The Club.  At least from a club business point of view.

The newly elected Board of Directors of the VHTRC held our first meeting last week. 

The outcome of the election of the club president by the board, a requirement of our bylaws, assures that you will continue to hear from me on our web site president’s page.

This is a significant juncture for our club because this is the first time in our history that the board does not contain at least one of the club’s founding fathers.  We are all members today because we liked what our founders created.  We all saw something cool and said, “Gee.  I want to run and hang out with those guys.”  And whereas that creation should continue to be fluid, the board is very cognizant of the fact that we must also continue the proud traditions and elusive essence that have become the VHTRC brand that attracted all of us ito the club in the first place  We won’t try to be the best, biggest, fanciest, or anything like that.  We won’t advertise, get in bed with commercial interests, or try to impress anyone.  We agreed to simply be what we are, and what our membership seems to embrace.  We talked about this at some length and we are in agreement that while encouraging an open view, we will stay true to our roots.

Some other business?  Alisa Springman has been our point person for Patagonia, facilitating board mandated Patagonia items for our big three events.  She will now be our lead person for our club SWAG as well.  Alisa will be doing this with help from Keith Knipling and of course Quatro, who has carried this burden almost solo for quite a while.

An exciting development?  Keith has taken on the task of starting up some weekly shorter distance VHTRC training runs in Rock Creek Park and its environs.  Rob Colenso is in on this too, and these informal “Show up and run” training runs will be starting soon.  Watch the news page.

Katie Keier stepped forward and she is now going to be our liaison with the Forest Service.  Not only is MMT a big event for us in the George Washington National Forest, we also do trail maintenance and have many other runs in the forest.  Being good partners and maintaining a good relationship with the Forest Service is essential if we are to continue to do what we love to do out there in the mountains. 

Rob is going to be our new liaison with the Road Runners Club of America.  The club is a member of RRCA as are all of our members.  The most important thing membership in the RRCA provides for us is insurance for club members and participants in our club events.  Rob will be seeing to it that we continue to remain compliant with RRCA guidelines to the extent they apply to us.

We discussed other club business and we also received a very comprehensive treasurer’s report from our VHTRC treasurer, Brian McNeill.  All in all we had a very productive meeting.

So.  It seems odd.  We’re a running club.  How hard can that be?  But there is a business side to the club and without it, there would be no club.  I’m excited about our new board and how everyone has pitched in right from the start to see to it that the business of the club gets done, so we all can get out there and run.

I’m pleased to say that the state of our club remains very strong.

If you have any thoughts about the business of our club, or anything else for that matter, I’d love to hear from you.

Happy Trails!

Updated date: November 4, 2013 - 9:28am

I think it goes without saying that we all love to run trails.  And trail running is about as simple as it gets.   Put on your shoes and hit the trails.  You don’t really need any equipment and you don’t really need any company.  You don’t really need special trail shoes and you don’t even need a watch.  Just a pair of shoes and a trail.  And yet as simple as trail running is on the one hand, on the other hand we’ve all chosen to join a trail running club.  Most of our club’s activities are open to everyone and don’t require participants to be club members.  So why bother joining our club?
Anyone, club member or not, can simply keep showing up and running our events.  And that’s just fine with us if that is what folks want to do.  But one of the greatest advantages of belonging to our club is the opportunity to get involved and help other runners do what we all love to do.  The VHTRC was founded by a bunch of guys who just liked to run together.  The goal they pursued wasn’t to create a club so they could all brag about belonging to a really cool organization, but rather the really cool club was the byproduct of these guys choosing to step forward, get involved, and simply get people out on the trail running together.  The result of this desire to have folks running together was the Bull Run Run.  And this all happened because some guys saw a need and stepped forward and got involved.  That was the foundation upon which our club was created.  Guys stepping forward and getting involved.  That is why it is a really cool club.
Get involved with your club.  Go ahead and put on a run.

We are a club and we do trail running.  Actually we do trail running really well.  But it is important to know that whereas we are a club with 500 members, a board of directors, a lot of bureaucracy, insurance, a bank account, tax returns, official policies, equipment, a football contest, bylaws, and dues; it is necessary to have all this stuff to enable us to fulfill our mandate to get together and run.  To make all this work it takes more than simply continuing to just show up and run.

Our club bylaws state that, “The object of the club shall be to promote the healthful, recreational, competitive, and social aspects of trail and ultra running.

In furtherance of this object the club may conduct runs, events, and races, support runs sponsored by other organizations, educate the public about trail and ultra running, conduct social events centered around running, and promote a positive attitude toward trail and ultra running among its members and other runners.  It is a purpose of the club to recognize those who support trail and ultra running.”

Go ahead and put on a run.

You certainly didn’t join VHTRC for our official policies, our bureaucracy, or our sound system, now did you?  You pay your dues to be part of this group that likes nothing better than getting involved so that we can all get out there and run. 

So get involved with your club.  Go ahead and put on a run.

Just about everyone has a favorite training route they run, and I’m suspecting you do to.  So get organized and share it with some others.  It doesn’t have to be a big deal. Or if you wanted it to, I guess it could be a big deal.  Make it as big a deal as you want.  Make it 20 miles or make it 50km.  Have aid or don’t have aid.  It is your run, so do what you want.  If you put on a run it won’t be an “Official VHTRC Run.” The idea here is for members to stage small fun runs on their own, but with some assistance from our club.  Think no frills fat ass, not huge event.  Even though this is your run, the club is still here to help you make your run a success.  We even have a check list you can use if you want to.  A sort of, “make sure you remember to do these things” list to help you in making sure you have all your bases covered. Part of all our bureaucracy is our policy of support of trail runs, so if you think you will incur some expenses and need some money to make your new run work, just ask us and we’ll probably give you some.  And as long as you stay within the guidelines, we don’t even care what you spend it on just so long as it is all spent on making your run a success.

Recently several of those fun runs we all love so much have gone by the wayside.  Alisa and Sue took a break from directing Holy Cowan’s Gap 50km, a small and really tough 50km they have been putting on for three years.  Several years ago Steve and Amy had to pull the plug on the Big Schloss, a bigger tough 50km on the Virginia / West Virginia border.  More recently, Kerry and Doug had to take a break from staging the Potomac Heritage Trail 50km, and this October will be the first in four when there has been no Halloweeny.  It has also been a few years since Andiamo ceased to exist.  Some of these runs were VHTRC events and some were not. Some of these runs will be back, and some won’t.  I know we all look forward to running Potomac Heritage and Cowan’s Gap in 2014, but in the meantime, there are some blank spots in the local running calendar.

So let’s get some new runs on the calendar.  Maybe it is time to get involved with your club and put on a run.

If you want to put on a run let me know and we’ll figure out how to make it happen.

If you have any thoughts about putting on a run or anything else for that matter, I’d love to hear from you.

Happy Trails!

Updated date: February 3, 2013 - 6:24pm

Dylan was right.  Indeed the times they are a-changin’.  And apparently nowhere, other than at Apple maybe, are the times a-changin’ more rapidly than in our sport of trail running. That snowballing change is the topic for another day, and before I go there I want to share some observations.

I had a pleasant surprise recently.  Came home and there in the middle of the debris of a thorough house cleaning were the May and June 1998 issues of Ultra Running magazine.  Hmmm.  Steering carefully around the pot holes along the way, I allowed myself a quick trip down memory lane.  In black and white.

According to Ultra Running, it seems that back in the day the VHTRC was all over the place.  The June, 1998 issue of Ultra Running featured a cover photo taken by our own Jeanne Christie during the running of the 6th BRR.  Inside was the race report along with an accompanying article by Chris Scott about the number of hills on the course.  (Nearly 100 according to him.)  There was a note that Eric Clifton had won MMT in 23:03:37.  Ultra Running Magazine began its online presence, and sifting through the print version results pages, it became apparent that VHTRC members seemed to be running everything in sight.

In the May, 1998 issue I could see that Courtney Campbell won the Wild Oak Trail 50 on snow covered trails, and that at age 54, Frank Probst finished 4th at Rocky Raccoon 100.  Derrick Carr was 5th at HAT, Scott Mills was 10th, and James and Rebecca brought up the rear in a field of 162 runners.  Before there even was a Blue Train, a large group of VHTRC members made the trip to North Carolina to run the Uwharrie 40 miler, and a bunch of club members participated in some west coast nonsense called the Nino No Go Mugu 50-50, that Chris Scott was responsible for.

Both of these fourteen year old issues were liberally sprinkled with VHTRC member’s race results from events all over the country.  Some other observations?  The race fields were, for the most part, a lot smaller then they are now.  For instance Umstead had 56 finishers. And a lot of the races that crowded a surprisingly full calendar back then, have now gone extinct.

Alongside these old magazines I found my November 2012 issue of Ultra Running, resplendent in all its colorful, slick, and glossy modernity.  The magazine, like our sport, is a work in progress.  The times they are a changin’.  But are they?

Looking inside my newest issue I see a full color picture of our own Suzie Spangler wearing her Furbutt visor, and I can’t miss Mike Strzelecki’s 12 year old son wearing his VHTRC shirt.  The results for The Ring are listed along with the many other results postings that are strewn with VHTRC members names.  Near the end of the magazine there is a note about mister Grand Slam himself Tom Green alongside a picture of Grand Slam finisher Jack Kurisky in his Blue Train shirt.

So, if this isn’t a review of Ultra Running magazine, which it most certainly isn’t, then where in the world am I going with all this?  Well.  It became apparent to me that things have changed a lot over the past fourteen years, and yet we still do what we have always done.  We lace up the shoes and get out there on the trails with our friends.  The VHTRC was a great club back in the day and it is a great club now.  Many of us still travel all over the globe to experience new running adventures, just as many of us did years ago.  We still put on events that just keep getting better and better.  And we still revel in that magical camaraderie of the trail.

The times they are a-changin’.  And that’s a good thing, I think.  Because not only was Bob Dylan right, so in fact was that other guy (Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr) who remarked that the more things change, the more they stay the same. 

At least where VHTRC is concerned, both Dylan and Alphonse Karr were pretty dead on.

If you have any insights into what trail running was like back in olden times, write about it and share it with the rest of us.  I’m pretty sure we’d all love to know more about trail running back in the Stone Ages.

If you have any comments about ancient history or what you think may lie ahead, I’d love to hear from you.

Happy Trails!

Updated date: September 12, 2012 - 10:05pm

2fer one.  Or should that be 2-For One?  Or Two-For One?  I clearly don't know, and it really doesn't matter how we define our annual summer party.  It's a two for one party and all that matters is that we get together and have a great time, all the while wearing two different party hats.

This is the VHTRC Summer Party.  Come and have a good time.  This is the VHTRC Summer Party.  Come and thank all our volunteers.  And if you have volunteered at one of our functions, then come and receive the recognition we owe you.

The summer Party is a chance to hang with other club members in a little bit more grown up atmosphere than what usually breaks out at the end of a trail run somewhere in the mountains.  We have 507 members and I'm pretty sure that none of us know who everyone is.  If you're like me you get to know plenty of folks who run a similar pace to you, but you never get to know those who are always running light years ahead of you.  This party is a chance to solve that little problem.  It's the perfect time for new members to get to know a broader cross section of the club, and it's also a great time to just have a great time.  It's a party for Pete's sake!

This is also the time when we personally invite everyone who has volunteered at one of our events to come and receive the recognition they deserve while joining in the party fun.  This is the time we thank our volunteers for all the time and effort they have given so graciously.

You're running MMT.  You finally come into Gap Creek I aid station.  You're out of water and you need to change your shoes and it is the middle of the night and it is dark and cold and you are hungry and it's raining and...there is no one there?  We couldn't do what it is we love to do without our volunteers.  This party is our chance to recognize and personally thank those who have helped make our trail foolishness possible.

You don't need to bring anything.  If you are a VHTRC member or have volunteered at one of our runs or events, then you are invited.  The party is free and Joe and Michelle have once again volunteered to host us at their home.  If you want to come, please RSVP.  All the information is on the Party Page.

If you have any thoughts about the summer party, or anything else for that matter, I'd love to hear from you.

Happy Trails!

Updated date: October 18, 2014 - 4:31pm

Our membership now stands at 485.  I’m not really sure what this means, but my best guess is that among other things, there must be 485 people who want to run and hang out together on the trails.  The VHTRC seems to me to offer different things to different people.  Of course our club is all about our big three races (Massanutten Mountain Trails 100, Bull Run Run 50, Women’s Half Marathon).  But it is also all about our many and varied fat ass events, our social times together, and that intangible feeling of connection that comes through those shared times out on the Happy Trails.

Two things came along serendipitously, and got me to thinking.  The first thing is the sixth running of one of our fat ass low key runs, the Elizabeth’s Furnace Fat Ass 50km (EFA) which is scheduled for March 10.  The second thing was opening up the March issue of Ultrarunning magazine and seeing a huge article about Maryland runner Mike Morton and his astonishing comeback to ultrarunning.

Quatro Hubbard and Mike Bur have been sharing co-race director duties for the EFA every year since 2007.  But there is some history here that goes back twenty years.  Bear with me.

In 1992 the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) moved its one day 50km hike known as The Dogwood Half Hundred to our neck of the woods.  The hike started and ended at Powell’s Fort Camp.  At that time the camp was open, and hikers could reserve a bunk in one of the cabins, and the post hike food was served in the dining room of the lodge.  The course used a few of the trails that now comprise the EFA course, but in 2000, the PATC reconfigured the course to the course we all now know as the EFA course.

Although the Dogwood Half Hundred was billed as a hike, some miscreant runners found out about it, and so every year there would be a small group of people who ran this challenging course while all the hikers did their thing. The field of runners and hikers grew every year, and by 2000 there were about 250 hikers hitting the trails on the last Saturday in April when the dogwood trees were in full bloom.

The hike route in 2002 was supposed to be the same as before but a last minute forest fire caused a re-route of the event, adding quite a bit of extra mileage.  It was during this rendition of the hike that runner Bonnie Day tripped and fell on the course.  She suffered brain edema, and tragically couldn’t be rescued in time to save her life.  After this sad episode the PATC stopped their support of the event, and thus 2002 was the last Dogwood Half Hundred 50km one day hike.  But in 2007 Quatro and Mike picked up the ball PATC dropped and ran with it.  They started fresh, made it a run, and moved the start finish to the Signal Knob parking lot.  The course was the same one the Dogwood had used in 2000 and 2001, and thus, out of the ashes of the Dogwood, the Elizabeth’s Furnace Fat Ass 50km was born.

I know all this ancient history because I participated in the Dogwood Half Hundred every year beginning in 1991.  For several years I hiked, but by 1997 I’d begin running and thus joined the small band of runners seeking adventure out on our beloved Massanutten trails, and I was there every year up to the end of the event. 

So what does this have to do with an article about Mike Morton?  Like I said at the top, I believe a lot of the appeal of membership in our club is that we’re just a bunch of runners who like to hang together.  So as I prepared to run the EFA and looked forward to this low key fat ass and hanging with other club members, I thought it might be fun to see who I’d been hanging out with back in the day, when the Dogwood Half Hundred was flourishing and serving as the inspiration for one of our beloved events.  So I went to the archives.

I’m not too good with names or remembering who is who, but apparently some guy named Joe Clapper ran most of the Dogwoods and in 1992 he finished in 6th place.  In 1996 Clapper was back and finished 4th.  Ahead of him that year were Eric Clifton, Mitch Craib, and Andy Peterson.  Behind him, Scott Mills finished 5th, and in 9th place was….. Mike Morton.

Some of the top 10 finishers of the dogwood in 1997 were Eric Clifton, Mike Morton, Andy Peterson, Scott Mills, Joe Clapper and some kid named Karsten Brown.  This was the first year I ran and although I wasn’t top 10, I finished up in 24th place.

Familiar names in 1999 included Scott Mills, Bill Wandel, Jeanne Christie, Larry Dehof, Jay Finkle, Carolyn Gernand, and Kev and Faye Hawn.  Pam Gowen ran in 1999 and finished in 24th place. This was a good year for me, and I managed to finish in 14th place, waaaaaay ahead of some young kid in 74th place named Aaron Schwartzbard.  Gee.  Pam and I both finished in front of Aaron. and we must have really scared him because he’s never asked for a rematch.

Derrick Carr and Scott Mills seemed to develop an annoying habit of finishing together in first place.  Clapper continued to be there most of the time along with other people we know like Bill Vantwerp, Ed Demoney, and James Moore. My personal best finish at the dogwood was 10th place in 2002, the final year of the Dogwood, but in a field of hikers this is really misleading.

The EFA is only one of our great smaller low key events.  I think it's the appeal of these small events, just as much or maybe even more than our big premier events, that keeps drawing runners to join the VHTRC.  The fact that our membership continues to grow reflects more than the generic increased participation in trail and ultra running.  I’m pretty sure most of our growth comes from runners seeing what we do and who we are and what we are about.  They can see we have something pretty special going on here, and they know they just have to be a part of it all. 

The Elizabeth's Furnace Fat Ass 50km is just one of our runs that helps to draw in new members.  And as you can now see, those EFA trails have been drawing like minded friends together for a really long time.

If you have any history to share, insights into what our club means to you or anything else at all, I’d love to hear from you.

Happy Trails!

Updated date: July 22, 2011 - 11:26am

Did you ever notice that the really cool race shirt you receive at any VHTRC event doesn't have any advertizing on it?  It may have the name of the race and it might have VHTRC, but it doesn't advertize, endorse, or even mention any sort of sponsor.


Did you ever notice that when you cross the finish line at any one of our races, the banner you run under says only VHTRC?  It doesn't say Montrail, North Face, Patagonia, or anything else.  Just VHTRC.


Did you ever notice that the VHTRC puts on more free events than fee events?


Did you ever notice that for the most part what the VHTRC is all about boils down to nothing more than a bunch of folks getting together and going for a trail run?  That's it.  Let's meet somewhere and just run.


Zany.  Madcap.  Quirky.  Irreverent.  Screwball.  The VHTRC had the amazing good fortune to be founded by a group of guys who were all of the above and more.  Just by chance this bunch of yahoos contained a few guys who were just anal enough to see to it that the rest of the goon squad stayed in line, and so whereas we certainly know how to throw a party, we know how to put on a race too.


The VHTRC is famous for superb course marking and over the top aid stations.  But we're also famous for supporting trail running in our community, informal runs that have become sacred traditions, and an arms wide open welcome to anyone who wants to join in the fun.  We're famous for being a great group of fun loving folks who love running trails, and just happen to put on some of the highest quality races in the country.


We owe a lot to the club's founding fathers for defining what has now become, for lack of a better term, the VHTRC brand. Our brand may mean slightly different things to different people, but it is who we are and how we do things, and unlike brands created by marketing wizards to sell products, we are our brand by simply doing what it is we do.  And all this doesn't happen just by chance, either.


We actually have a formal policy about corporate sponsorship.  This policy enables us to actually be just a group of friends who want to get together for a run and do what we want.  What this policy boils down to is that we're not going to be beholden to anyone or anything.  If you're some corporate enterprise and you want to give us stuff we might take it, but were not going to advertize for you or let you have any control over what we do.  And besides.  Since no one makes a dime off of any of our races we really don't need your stuff anyway, because we already have some of the lowest entry fees around, and that low entry thing is part of our brand too.


We also have a policy concerning support for trail runs that aren't owned by the VHTRC.  It is mandated in our bylaws.  What it says is that if you want to put on a little trail run and you need money, make your case to us and we'll probably help you out.  This is how many of the fat ass runs we all enjoy can have great post run cookouts and offset some of their other costs.


We don't want to be the biggest club or the one that puts on the most races.  We don't want to promote some corporate agenda.  We just want to continue to be a bunch of friends who like to get together and have fun trail running, and we do that in a way that I think sets us apart and helps define our unique brand.  When runners in the trail running world hear Virginia Happy Trails Running Club, they know what that means.  The VHTRC brand is who we are and what we do.  The policies and traditions of our club ensure that our brand continues to define all the things that make our club what it is today.


If you have any thoughts about our brand, or anything else for that matter, please just shoot me an email.


Happy Trails!



Updated date: November 5, 2013 - 3:05pm

VHTRC is remarkably like that couple who began married life in a modest house, raised their family, put on an addition, enjoyed the visits from the grandchildren, fixed up the basement, installed several little storage buildings in the back yard, and never, ever, moved.

We have stuff.  A whole lot of stuff.

During the Bull Run Run, when you come to the Marina aid station, you probably don't ask yourself where those coolers full of water and Gatorade came from, do you?  At last count VHTRC owned nineteen of those things.  When that smiling volunteer filled your hydration pack, she was probably using a club owned pitcher. 

During MMT, in the middle of the night when you finally drag your sorry ass into the Visitor Center aid station, and it's raining, and you are sitting under a portable shelter with lights strung all over it, if I know you, you probably didn't ask yourself where that shelter and the generator that's powering those lights came from now did you?  Yup.  We own those things too.  And when the smiling volunteer hands you your drop bag at Gap #1, rest assured it arrived in one of the gazillion plastic tubs the club owns.

How about Mike's bitchin' sound system that's cooler than the one SONRAP put in the old Nash Rambler?  Well it really isn't Mike's.  We own that too.

VHTRC, by its very definition a running club, somehow survived seventeen years without owning a clock.  We cleared that little oversight up a year ago when we purchased that really cool display clock you'll be staring at as you streak across the Bull Run Run finish line.  Yup.  We also own those colored pennants and even those bollards they're hung from to form the finish chute.

Our clock was kind of expensive, but now with the help of Anstr's timing crew we have control of all our timing needs.  And we've already rented out our clock, and will continue to do so when given the opportunity.

Our race directors know they have all sorts of stuff at their disposal.  Unlike that old couple who never moved and just kept acquiring stuff, we use all our stuff, and it enhances our ability to continue to put on great events.

So if you ever wondered where your cheap dues and rock bottom race entry fees go, just remember that now we can all proudly stuff it.

Check out a list of some of our STUFF.  And if you have any comments or concerns about Stuff, or anything else, please just shoot me an email.

Happy Trails

Updated date: March 8, 2011 - 4:07pm

SWAG.  What does SWAG mean anyway? 

"A bundle; the package or roll containing the possessions of a swagman who is a seller of low-priced trashy goods, trinkets, etc." And a swag-shop, for the sale of such things, was, "formerly, a plunder-depot” presumably because, swag used to mean, "Goods or property obtained by forcible or illicit means."  SWAG evidently also stands for, Something We All Get. 

OK.  Now somebody is probably wondering about SHWAG.  I won’t even attempt to figure that one out.  All I know is that we runners seem love our plunder.  Or SWAG.  Or SHWAG.  Or whatever.

One of the many great benefits of belonging to the VHTRC is that we can all be proud of the cool swag that is available for club members, and as part of our events, but did you ever wonder where all this cool stuff comes from?

Well, I don’t know for sure where it used to come from, but a few years ago a small but  dedicated group within the club got together to form the Swag Committee, and was responsible for most of us getting some pretty cool “official” VHTRC swag. 

More recently the newest iteration of the VHTRC Swag Committee has been the driving force in selecting, designing, and procuring the cool stuff members are able to purchase, as well as some of the swag you and others receive when participating in some of our events. 

The Bored finally got around to defining the Swag Committee’s mission and that can be found here if you’re interested. Swag Committee Policy  But the short version is that the Swag Committee has the responsibility for the design, selection, and procurement of items such as club shirts and other club swag.  The Swag Committee is also always on standby, ready to help our race directors, if asked, with swag for their events.

Keith Knipling is “The Person in Charge” of the Swag Committee.  Quatro Hubbard is the “Board Member Involved,” and the other dedicated folks sharing the work are Pam Gowen, Bobby Gill, Laura Bur and Mel Saraniero.  What has the Swag Committee done lately?  How about those instant collector’s item hats that were given out at The Eagle Run?  Additionally, the committee has been working with Anstr on the selection and purchase of entrants and finishers shirts for the Bull Run Run, and also they are currently working on a design for a new club decal

The Swag Committee.  Members involved in their club, giving of their time and energy, helping to make the VHTRC the kind of club that you and I want to belong to.

If you have any concerns, comments, or input, concerning club swag, or the Swag Committee, grab one of the committee members next time you see them or shoot them an email.

And as always, if you have any concerns, comments, or input concerning this or anything else about the club, please, just let me know.


Happy Trails!