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?
Legal Status and Swag Sales.
We finally got some professional help and answered several questions that have been simmering on the back burner for a long time. It may sound simple, but as an affiliated club of the Road Runners Club of America some issues concerning our legal and financial status always seemed a little murky to us. But they are murky no more. What we found is that we have been conducting our business just as we were supposed to all along. We are an Internal Revenue Code section 501(c) (3) tax exempt unincorporated association. Now that we have a better idea of our status, we know we’ve been filing the right forms all along, and we have confidence that we seem to be in compliance with our understanding of the rules that affect us.
Armed with better knowledge of our status and what it means, we also know that it’s OK for us to continue to sell shirts and other items to our members, at or below our cost. A little bureaucracy can be a good thing and so to make things clear to all involved; we created and then adopted a Policy on Provision of Items that clarifies our sales position.
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.
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.