The NVRC met on February 8 at Hi-Way Pizza on North Atherton. The meeting had been postponed a week due to a snow storm, and it seemed like some people had their pizza and beer Jones on through the whole week, even through the Superbowl! Present were Dave Eggler, Jerry Steffy, Marty Mazur, Tara Murray, Mike Casper, Kim Gasper, Colleen Danz, Jim Moore, Carl Miller, Rich Olsen, Todd Baney, Dave DeGroote, Jaimie Wright, Kathy Koetje-Simin, Corry Neff, Tom Cali, Morgan Wasikonis, Meira Minard, Mark Traband, John Wilcock, Cheryl Capone, Jon Thurlley, and guests Sara and John Brownson.

The annual awards for the NVRC Race Series were to be presented, so business was kept at a minimum. First on the list was the Brownsons. They are trying to plan a race for Gifts from the Heart for Downs, which gives gifts to families with children with Downs Syndrome, of which the Brownsons are one. They got a gift of an expensive bike for their Downs Syndrome child and want to help the organization. They had originally thought of having the race on Memorial Day weekend, but that weekend is quite crowded with long-standing local races. The Club members shared their wisdom about the pros and cons of having an on-campus race, best times of year, what to do to plan, etc. Hopefully we gave them enough to get them going.

Morgan Wasikonis talked for a bit about her plan to start a Centre County chapter of Girls on the Run, an organization that helps pre-middle school aged girls achieve better self-esteem, in part through exercise. Morgan was there to report on her plan, which she hopes to accomplish by Fall of 2012, and to gather some ideas from the Club about how we can help. Some of the things we mentioned were our Sponsorship Grant program, which could be used to help defray costs of some of the programs. Also, our Club can help her plug the kids into all the available training and competitive running opportunities in the area. These include the Nittany Track and Field Youth Club, the Youth Cross-Country Program we run, and all the races that have associated kid races.

Along the same line, Kim Gasper asked if the Club could help defray some of the costs of putting on her annual Red Raider Rally Runs. This is a day of races for kids up to middle school age that's usually held in May in Bellefonte. Since that program is not part of a school district activity, it's exactly the kind of thing our Sponsorship Grant program is for. We're going to make Bellefonte a running powerhouse yet!

Tom Cali and Mike Casper brought up the local Soles4Souls shoe collection project that is currently run out of Appalachian Outdoors. The Soles4Souls organization distributes collected used shoes to poor people around the year. AO collects and helps pack the shoes, and also pays for the shipping. However, AO is having a hard time with this cost. The Club discussed donating money to help defray that cost if doing so would help keep the program going. We voted to donate up to $500/yr. We'll see if AO agrees.

On to the Awards (and a couple of special presentations). The NVRC Race Series is in its 4th year now. Every year, we get more participation and closer races for the top spots. We tweak the rules a little every year, keeping the goals in mind of having the Racing awards within the reach of both the Club's overall speedsters as well as the decent age group competitors, and using the Volunteer award incentives to bring in help for the races.

This year's Race Series Winner was Cory Neff. Cory is not as fast as our Club's fastest, but he seemed to show up at every Series race last year. And he came in all the way from Curwensville! That's dedication! He had to be dedicated: only 14 points separated Cory from coming in 4th. For the second year in a row, Meira Minard and Alan Effrig won, respectively, 2nd and 3rd place. Meira was 7 points in back of Cory and Alan 6 behind Meira.

This year's Volunteer of the Year Award went to the indefatigable Mike Casper. Mike puts on several Club races, most importantly the Tussey mOUnTaiNBACK 50 Mile Ultramarathon and Relay. This race has grown every year since it started back in 2000 and is now regularly designated the USATF 50 Mile Road Racing Ultra Championship. The race keeps growing in prominence, but requires an army of volunteers and Mike's year-round attention. Marty Mazur was second to Mike. Marty is the Club "Propaganda Minister", in charge of generating Club web content, running meetings, and being a general firehose of information to people looking to start a running program, put on a 5K, and whatever else comes through his inbox. Marty also helps Jerry Steffy put on the Indoor Mile Series and helps at other Club races. Jerry Steffy was 3rd this year, by just one point! Jerry is our Club president. He also runs the Beginner's Group training runs, the summer All-Comers Meets and the Indoor Mile Series, as well as putting on the Kids Races at Arts Fest and helping out at other races. Jerry is also a volunteer coach for the State High cross-country team, and that doesn't even count in the Race Series standings!

We've instituted some changes for the 2011 competition that we hope will help getting even more people involved. These include designating four of our races "Premier Races" that earn runners and volunteers extra points; and giving out bonuses for first-time volunteers and race directors. We figure, if you do it once, you'll be hooked!

To participate in the Race Series competitions, all you need is to be a member of the NVRC. Details on the Series are here:

After the Series Awards were given out, we also gave special appreciations to two people who have been big supporters of the Club over the years. First, we gave an appreciation plaque to Terry Losch and Rapid Transit Sports. Terry is the proprietor of RTS. Over many years, Terry and his knowledgeable staff have always made runners feel welcome. Terry is an experienced runner himself and knows how to get you in the right running footwear, or give you some tips on stretching, injury prevention, etc. But he has also been a very generous supporter of the Club by providing prizes, race numbers, and bags. Unfortunately, Terry could not be at the meeting. Marty later presented Terry the plaque at RTS.

The second recipient of the Club's appreciation was Tom Cali. Tom has been very active in the Club as a volunteer, race organizer, and accomplished runner. He has also been a regular member of the NVRC CVIM Boston Marathon teams. And Tom has been a very generous supporter of the Club by donating to several of our regular races. To save Marty Klanchar the trouble of haranguing Tom for his dues, Tom also received a lifetime membership to the NVRC along with his plaque.

Thanks, Terry and Tom!

Next Meeting: April 5.

2010 NVRC Race Series Awards