President’s Report / Jan. 11 Meeting
Like many members of our club, I began to enjoy our fine sport shortly after the great running boom of the 1970s. In 2006, I cannot help but feel that we are at the beginning of a running boom, so to speak, in the Pine Belt. Allow me to present the evidence for my argument.
-In just a few short years, the Pine Belt Pacers have gone from a club almost exclusively comprised of masters and grandmasters runners and walkers to a dynamic club comprised of members of all ages. While our core group of veteran runners has been maintained, and even expanded, young runners are now a significant presence at each of events and on the club roster. Consider that of the top six finishers in the Steam Whistle 12K, four were under the age of 20, and each is from our area.
-Club membership is growing. Consider that more than 70 runners had renewed their membership or joined or club for the first time just 10 days into the new year. At this time in 2005 less than half of that number was on our club membership roster and by year end more than 100 had joined.
-Participation at our events and meetings is growing. At new events, participation far exceeded expectations, capped by more than 100 finishers at the Hobble then Gobble 5K. At the Steam Whistle 12K, more than 80 runners completed the second-year event, an increase over the inaugural race, and our 2-mile predicted time series last summer was a success by all accounts. Importantly, several races chose to take part in our Gran Prix series, resulting in registration discounts for our members.
-Volunteer spirit among our members is growing. More than ever, our club members are stepping forward to assist with our events. While it would be impossible to mention each member who has volunteered their expertise and time, I feel it is necessary to make note of several who have made significant contributions. When it comes to volunteer spirit among our members, any discussion should begin with our Web master, Running Bear. This position is routinely a daily job that he completes consistently and admirably. Another volunteer who tackles tasks on a daily basis is Becky Ryder. In addition to serving as our membership chair, she and Hollie have taken on the responsibility as Longleaf Trace liaisons for the club. Often, if not always, many of the tasks not currently falling under the responsibilities of one of our officers falls on Becky’s shoulders. Our race directors deserve special mention as well. In recent months, Dawn Smith and Tony Mozingo have organized two of the most successful Pine Belt Pacer events, the Hobble then Gobble 5K on Thanksgiving Day and the Steam Whistle 12K, held on New Year’s Eve. In 2006, a Labor Day 5K will be added to form a trio of holiday events to the Pacers schedule. Keith Barrett, who formerly served as race director for the Hub Fest 5K, will hold the same position for the new event. In addition, Joni Dunbar has been a blessing to the club in recent months, designing the Pine Belt Pacers new logo and the logos for the Hobble then Gobble and Steam Whistle races.
-This period of growth on the local level coincides with American success in distance running in the world’s biggest events and an increase in participation in distance running across the country. More than 400,000 runners completed American marathons in 2005, a record number, and trail running is more popular than ever. Two Americans, Meb Keflezighi and Deena Kastor were medal winners in the marathon at the last Olympics, and a third, Alan Culpepper, became the first American in two decades to post a top-five finish at the Boston Marathon.
All of this is great cause for optimism for our club in 2006. This optimism is reflected in the club’s goals, as defined by the club’s officers, for the next two years. We predict, and will work hard to ensure, that this growth continues in 2006 and 2007. You can view those goals on www.PineBeltPacers.org . It is important to note that the club over the past two years has grown in terms of the number of events and programs. In 2006 and 2007, our focus will shift to fine-tuning these already successful events and programs.
While the club’s focus will shift that does not mean we will not be venturing into new territory. In 2006, our members will receive membership cards that will allow for discounts on goods and services to area businesses and can be used for registration discounts on our Gran Prix races. Also of note is the aforementioned Labor Day 5K. Many of you will remember this event, which was held in Hattiesburg near the Cloverleaf Mall. Our intention is to hold the race of the same course.
I hope that you agree with me that the club is improving and growing. If you do not, I invite you to attend the club’s next meeting on Feb. 8 and provide your input on ways that you feel we can do so.
I hope to see each of you then, and if not then, at the club’s next Gran Prix event, the Run for Love, Feb. 12 at Southern Miss.
Members present: Deedre’ Coll, Jim Coll, Dawn Smith, Becky Ryder, Keith Barrett, Deb Osteen, Yousri El Medjoubi, Mostafa Khannouchi, Steve Ulery, Charles Jackson, Dana Christensen, Vicki Copeland
Decisions Reached / Actions to be taken by the club:
To hold a 5K on Labor Day / cancel the HubFest 5K
A. Keith Barrett has volunteered as the race’s director
To hold a holiday series of events, to include the Labor Day 5K, Hobble then Gobble 5K and the Steam Whistle 12K.
B. The club agreed to consider allowing for registration in the three events as a one price, three-race package.
The club agreed to create bumper stickers and shirts using the new logo created by Joni and the new motto to be voted on by members on www.PineBeltPacers.org. The bumper stickers will be distributed to members as part of a membership packet, along with membership cards, in March. The shirts will be available for sale at Soccer Locker and City Runners.
Responsibilities for distribution of Run for Love posters were decided.
Members volunteered to solicit businesses for the membership card program. The following members volunteered (businesses are in parenthesis) – Becky (George’s Sporting Goods; Dana (organic health food store downtown?); Vicki (JavaWorks); Mostafa (Healing Touch); Joni (206 Front St., Crescent City).
The club’s officers considered the club’s goals for the coming year and 2007.
The club agreed that we will attempt to hold membership tables at each of the Gran Prix events.
C. Club members agreed that any member who assists with the membership table at Gran Prix events will be awarded Gran Prix points equal to the first Pacer finisher in all categories for which the member is eligible.
The next club event / meeting will be held on Feb. 8, beginning at the Longleaf Trace’s Gateway Pavilion at 5:30 p.m. After a short run, the meeting will be held at Keith and Deborah’s house.