The regular meeting of the Nittany Valley Running Club was held on Tuesday, February 2. It was a big group tonight: Marty Klanchar, Dave Eggler, Tom Cali, Cheryl Capone, Christine Rodgers, Stevie Rocco, Allan Gyorke, Kim Gasper, Jerry Steffy, Kathy Koetje-Simin, John Wilcock, Michelle Christiansen, Mike Casper, Meira Minard, Tara Murray, Dave Moore, Alan Effrig, Bob Boozer, Elizabeth Desser, and Marty Mazur and assorted kids made a huge dent in four pizzas and several pitchers of beer. 

Before the food came, there was some conversation about Club business. Club Treasurer Dave Eggler reports that the Club pretty much came out even last year, expenses balancing income nearly perfectly. A change from the "obscene profits" (Dave's words) of the last couple of years. I guess we're spending the right amount on the kid running programs and charitable causes. Dave will be sending me a copy of the Treasurer's Report to post on the site.

Dave also reported that the Nittany Valley Half-Marathon was another big success, despite the dicey and cold conditions. The race raised over $3000 for Centre Volunteers in Medicine. In news on other fronts that Dave has his hands in, this year's Arts Fest races will be directed by Dave with help on the kids races from Jerry Steffy. The Club is chafing a bit at the steep fees (in the form of required ticket purchases) that the Spikes are asking for use of their facility for the Arts Fest event, but we're sticking to their venue at least for this year. And next year's First Night race is up in the air. It all depends on whether First Night festivities take place. One of the event's big backers has backed out. We're waitin' and seein'.

Next year's Knights of Columbus 5K will see some changes. First, Christine Rodgers will take over the job of directing the race from Cheryl Capone. Cheryl leaves after two years directing to tackle a busier work and family schedule. Second, long-time race beneficiary Tom Kleban has indicated that he would like his share of the proceeds to be redirected to a new beneficiary. Tom doesn't require the Club's help to meet his needs and thanks the Club for our support over the years.The Club and Race Director Christine Rodgers will consult with Tom in making a decision on a new beneficiary.

The Club is looking for new ways to attract new members, especially beginning runners. Our "Wahoo" beginners group, started about 5 years ago, still helps train runners who are either just starting out, just getting back to it, or not comfortable with the pace of some of our other groups. But the numbers in that group seem to have fallen off a bit recently, and we'd like to inject some new people into it. So we talked of things we can do to help that out. Aside from more prominence on the web site for the beginner programs, we're looking for suggestions. 

On the subject of beginners and slower runners, we'd also like to get more of them involved in the Indoor Mile Series. That series has become very successful in the last few years. This year has seen the biggest jump yet in talent, with Club records being set every week and runners coming in from all over the region to run on Penn State's world-class track. But this has also had the effect of intimidating slower runners. It used to be that we'd regularly get several runners in the 6 to 8 minute range. This year, no runner has gone slower than 6:30 and the meets usually only have a few runners slower than 6 flat. One idea is that we can have a few coaching sessions on the indoor track in the late Fall for beginners. There'd be no obligation to run the Indoor Mile, but the sessions would be designed to help them become faster. We could have a "beginners only" timed mile for those who needed to run without an audience once to get over the intimidation factor. We'll keep this in mind for next year. Any other suggestions are welcome.

Allan Gyorke and Stevie Rocco are two Club members who consider themselves middle-to-back of the pack runners. They like to train at around a 10 minute mile pace. They've been doing a blog/Podcast on their thoughts from that perspective for a while now. I'm sure the Club, especially the beginners and joggers, would find some of their postings informative and entertaining. You can find their Podcasts here.

Mike Casper reminded everyone that, despite what Punxsy Phil has to say, Spring is just around the corner and the Tussey Teasers will be starting soon. The first one is on March 13.

After the pizzas were dispatched, Marty got up to present the awards for this year's Race Series and Volunteer of the Year winners. This year's Race Series drew some great competition, and it was close for first place until the very end. Christine Rodgers was the top point getter, but that wasn't decided until December. Christine worked hard all year to gain the top award, participating in most of the Club races and winning a pile of prizes. Second place went to Meira Minard, who is going to be faster yet for this year's competition. Alan Effrig, a Tussey Draft Challenge Relay Captain, was third. This year's Volunteer of the Year award went to Marty Mazur, who has been getting out from his usual place behind the computer screen lately to help with race timing and other race day volunteer activities as well. NVRC President Jerry Steffy and mOUnTaiNBACK Race Director Mike Casper tied for second. Cheryl Capone came in third. And all of us must recognize that we've been inspired by Dave Eggler, Club Treasurer, race timer extraordinaire, and director of several Club races. Dave has retired from competition for volunteer accolades, but thankfully not from volunteering, and his point totals continue to impress and inspire us all.

2009 NVRC Race Series Awards

Photos by Cheryl Capone.

Next meeting: April 6.