Contributed by Len Goldman
The 58th annual RRCA Convention was held in Dallas the weekend of March 18-21. The RRCA Convention provides an opportunity for running club leaders, race directors, running industry professionals, and runners to come together to share information and best practices. It also contributes to the national mission of the RRCA to develop and grow community-based running clubs and events. LMJS is a member of the RRCA and usually several club members attend this annual event. However due to the Oakland Running Festival being held the same weekend, many club members were committed to either running or volunteering at the Festival. Since 2001, I have attended most of the annual conventions and always look forward to going. Over the years, I have made many friends from running clubs throughout the U.S. It feels like a family reunion for me, getting to visit and reminisce with runners I haven't seen for a year, plus an opportunity to make new friends. It is also very educational with seminars on a variety of subjects.
The host hotel was in Downtown Dallas, which like many urban centers including Oakland, is experiencing a building boom that includes people moving back into the core area in significant numbers. My impression was of a city with a lot of vitality and one that is experiencing a prosperous economy. Upon my arrival, I made a new friend immediately, as my roommate was Scott Fiske, the Michigan RRCA state rep. This was his first convention and I was able to share some of my experiences with him, plus we are both college basketball fans and that resulted in several late nights watching the NCAA tournament on TV.
The first day of the convention on Friday started early, with a 6:30 a.m. run through the streets of Downtown Dallas led by runners from the host club, Dallas Running Club. There were probably 100 runners who took part. The formal part of the convention then kicked off with a continental breakfast and welcome speech in the hotel ballroom, the site of our lunches and awards banquet dinner on Saturday night. The seminars on both days provided an opportunity to learn about best practices in club management, race directing, trends in running, youth running programs club training programs, and much more. Needless to say it is an intense two days, with a total immersion in running and activities from dawn to late in the evening. Plus there is the informal networking that takes place during the breaks and at meals, where connections with other runners can be established. I have found this informal network to be very helpful when I have questions how different clubs do things and need to reach out for information.
In addition to the seminars, there is also a vendor expo with companies who offer various products and applications for both running clubs and runners. The RRCA coaching certification course Level 1 is also offered at the convention and new this year the RRCA was "beta testing" a Level 2 course that it hopes to offer nationwide in 2017.
The RRCA has its annual business meeting at the convention, where by-law additions or changes are voted on and the election of Board members. A good friend of mine, Mitch Garner, was elected President of the Board, a position for which he is extremely well qualified for after having served on the Board in other positions the past 8 years.
A running convention wouldn't be right if there wasn't a race to run in. Every convention has a race in which attendees can participate. This year there were two options, a 5K on Saturday and half marathon on Sunday, both produced by the Rock & Roll organization. I opted for the 5K which took place at the Cotton Bowl/State Fair complex which was 3 miles from the host hotel. About 8 of us attending the convention took part in the 5K, with the hotel van driving us there, but we were on our own for getting back to the hotel. Due to a strained hamstring, my plan was to not push it in the 5K and hope for the best. About 2,000 runners took part and we weaved our way through the fairground complex, eventually reaching a gravel road section and the mile 1 mark which I went by in 7:20. Because of a wave start, it seemed like I was passing runners almost the entire way. I knew something was off when the 2 mile mark was passed in 13 minutes, but wasn't sure why my split was so fast. I later learned that a race official had mis-marked the turnaround for the 5K and all the runners ended up running around 2.75 miles, rather than 3.1. I crossed the finish line in 21 minutes, but if we had run the correct distance it should have been around 23 minutes.
Interestingly according to the results, there were only 3 men in my age group, 70-74. Fortunately my hamstring felt fine the entire race and wasn't achy after the race either, so it was a good workout for me. Proving that we are a community of runners, I asked a runner finishing about the same time I did for a ride downtown and he was very accommodating in driving me to the host hotel.
On Sunday, the half marathon took place and it was the marquee race of the weekend with over 9,000 participants. I jogged over to the start with my roommate who was planning on using it as a marathon pace run. I then jogged part of the course and wanted to see the lead runners go by at about the 3.5 mile point of the course. The race leader had a pretty big lead but after him the number of runners continued to grow until they filled a four lane street from curb to curb. I did a shout out when I say my roommate go by, he was looking relaxed and when I saw him later that morning he was very pleased with his time of 1:23, right on his marathon goal pace which he will be running in several weeks, the Boston Marathon.
If you would like to get an idea of everything the convention weekend encompasses, go to this link for this year's event:
http://www.rrca.org/convention/The 2017 convention will be in Detroit in early March. Interested club members should contact the LMJS Board and let them know.