VHTRC President's Page

VHTRC President Alan GowenVHTRC club president Alan Gowen posts his thoughts about the club, its events, and running in the woods. E-Mail Alan at: alangowen@gmail.com

Updated date: January 18, 2014 - 12:31pm

We’re all familiar with the President’s State of The Union Speech.  But I’m not making a speech, and, well, I’m not that president.  So I thought I’d keep things in perspective and take a shot at the State of The Club.  At least from a club business point of view.

The newly elected Board of Directors of the VHTRC held our first meeting last week. 

The outcome of the election of the club president by the board, a requirement of our bylaws, assures that you will continue to hear from me on our web site president’s page.

This is a significant juncture for our club because this is the first time in our history that the board does not contain at least one of the club’s founding fathers.  We are all members today because we liked what our founders created.  We all saw something cool and said, “Gee.  I want to run and hang out with those guys.”  And whereas that creation should continue to be fluid, the board is very cognizant of the fact that we must also continue the proud traditions and elusive essence that have become the VHTRC brand that attracted all of us ito the club in the first place  We won’t try to be the best, biggest, fanciest, or anything like that.  We won’t advertise, get in bed with commercial interests, or try to impress anyone.  We agreed to simply be what we are, and what our membership seems to embrace.  We talked about this at some length and we are in agreement that while encouraging an open view, we will stay true to our roots.

Some other business?  Alisa Springman has been our point person for Patagonia, facilitating board mandated Patagonia items for our big three events.  She will now be our lead person for our club SWAG as well.  Alisa will be doing this with help from Keith Knipling and of course Quatro, who has carried this burden almost solo for quite a while.

An exciting development?  Keith has taken on the task of starting up some weekly shorter distance VHTRC training runs in Rock Creek Park and its environs.  Rob Colenso is in on this too, and these informal “Show up and run” training runs will be starting soon.  Watch the news page.

Katie Keier stepped forward and she is now going to be our liaison with the Forest Service.  Not only is MMT a big event for us in the George Washington National Forest, we also do trail maintenance and have many other runs in the forest.  Being good partners and maintaining a good relationship with the Forest Service is essential if we are to continue to do what we love to do out there in the mountains. 

Rob is going to be our new liaison with the Road Runners Club of America.  The club is a member of RRCA as are all of our members.  The most important thing membership in the RRCA provides for us is insurance for club members and participants in our club events.  Rob will be seeing to it that we continue to remain compliant with RRCA guidelines to the extent they apply to us.

We discussed other club business and we also received a very comprehensive treasurer’s report from our VHTRC treasurer, Brian McNeill.  All in all we had a very productive meeting.

So.  It seems odd.  We’re a running club.  How hard can that be?  But there is a business side to the club and without it, there would be no club.  I’m excited about our new board and how everyone has pitched in right from the start to see to it that the business of the club gets done, so we all can get out there and run.

I’m pleased to say that the state of our club remains very strong.

If you have any thoughts about the business of our club, or anything else for that matter, I’d love to hear from you.

Happy Trails!

Updated date: November 4, 2013 - 9:28am

I think it goes without saying that we all love to run trails.  And trail running is about as simple as it gets.   Put on your shoes and hit the trails.  You don’t really need any equipment and you don’t really need any company.  You don’t really need special trail shoes and you don’t even need a watch.  Just a pair of shoes and a trail.  And yet as simple as trail running is on the one hand, on the other hand we’ve all chosen to join a trail running club.  Most of our club’s activities are open to everyone and don’t require participants to be club members.  So why bother joining our club?
Anyone, club member or not, can simply keep showing up and running our events.  And that’s just fine with us if that is what folks want to do.  But one of the greatest advantages of belonging to our club is the opportunity to get involved and help other runners do what we all love to do.  The VHTRC was founded by a bunch of guys who just liked to run together.  The goal they pursued wasn’t to create a club so they could all brag about belonging to a really cool organization, but rather the really cool club was the byproduct of these guys choosing to step forward, get involved, and simply get people out on the trail running together.  The result of this desire to have folks running together was the Bull Run Run.  And this all happened because some guys saw a need and stepped forward and got involved.  That was the foundation upon which our club was created.  Guys stepping forward and getting involved.  That is why it is a really cool club.
Get involved with your club.  Go ahead and put on a run.

We are a club and we do trail running.  Actually we do trail running really well.  But it is important to know that whereas we are a club with 500 members, a board of directors, a lot of bureaucracy, insurance, a bank account, tax returns, official policies, equipment, a football contest, bylaws, and dues; it is necessary to have all this stuff to enable us to fulfill our mandate to get together and run.  To make all this work it takes more than simply continuing to just show up and run.

Our club bylaws state that, “The object of the club shall be to promote the healthful, recreational, competitive, and social aspects of trail and ultra running.

In furtherance of this object the club may conduct runs, events, and races, support runs sponsored by other organizations, educate the public about trail and ultra running, conduct social events centered around running, and promote a positive attitude toward trail and ultra running among its members and other runners.  It is a purpose of the club to recognize those who support trail and ultra running.”

Go ahead and put on a run.

You certainly didn’t join VHTRC for our official policies, our bureaucracy, or our sound system, now did you?  You pay your dues to be part of this group that likes nothing better than getting involved so that we can all get out there and run. 

So get involved with your club.  Go ahead and put on a run.

Just about everyone has a favorite training route they run, and I’m suspecting you do to.  So get organized and share it with some others.  It doesn’t have to be a big deal. Or if you wanted it to, I guess it could be a big deal.  Make it as big a deal as you want.  Make it 20 miles or make it 50km.  Have aid or don’t have aid.  It is your run, so do what you want.  If you put on a run it won’t be an “Official VHTRC Run.” The idea here is for members to stage small fun runs on their own, but with some assistance from our club.  Think no frills fat ass, not huge event.  Even though this is your run, the club is still here to help you make your run a success.  We even have a check list you can use if you want to.  A sort of, “make sure you remember to do these things” list to help you in making sure you have all your bases covered. Part of all our bureaucracy is our policy of support of trail runs, so if you think you will incur some expenses and need some money to make your new run work, just ask us and we’ll probably give you some.  And as long as you stay within the guidelines, we don’t even care what you spend it on just so long as it is all spent on making your run a success.

Recently several of those fun runs we all love so much have gone by the wayside.  Alisa and Sue took a break from directing Holy Cowan’s Gap 50km, a small and really tough 50km they have been putting on for three years.  Several years ago Steve and Amy had to pull the plug on the Big Schloss, a bigger tough 50km on the Virginia / West Virginia border.  More recently, Kerry and Doug had to take a break from staging the Potomac Heritage Trail 50km, and this October will be the first in four when there has been no Halloweeny.  It has also been a few years since Andiamo ceased to exist.  Some of these runs were VHTRC events and some were not. Some of these runs will be back, and some won’t.  I know we all look forward to running Potomac Heritage and Cowan’s Gap in 2014, but in the meantime, there are some blank spots in the local running calendar.

So let’s get some new runs on the calendar.  Maybe it is time to get involved with your club and put on a run.

If you want to put on a run let me know and we’ll figure out how to make it happen.

If you have any thoughts about putting on a run or anything else for that matter, I’d love to hear from you.

Happy Trails!

Updated date: February 3, 2013 - 6:24pm

Dylan was right.  Indeed the times they are a-changin’.  And apparently nowhere, other than at Apple maybe, are the times a-changin’ more rapidly than in our sport of trail running. That snowballing change is the topic for another day, and before I go there I want to share some observations.

I had a pleasant surprise recently.  Came home and there in the middle of the debris of a thorough house cleaning were the May and June 1998 issues of Ultra Running magazine.  Hmmm.  Steering carefully around the pot holes along the way, I allowed myself a quick trip down memory lane.  In black and white.

According to Ultra Running, it seems that back in the day the VHTRC was all over the place.  The June, 1998 issue of Ultra Running featured a cover photo taken by our own Jeanne Christie during the running of the 6th BRR.  Inside was the race report along with an accompanying article by Chris Scott about the number of hills on the course.  (Nearly 100 according to him.)  There was a note that Eric Clifton had won MMT in 23:03:37.  Ultra Running Magazine began its online presence, and sifting through the print version results pages, it became apparent that VHTRC members seemed to be running everything in sight.

In the May, 1998 issue I could see that Courtney Campbell won the Wild Oak Trail 50 on snow covered trails, and that at age 54, Frank Probst finished 4th at Rocky Raccoon 100.  Derrick Carr was 5th at HAT, Scott Mills was 10th, and James and Rebecca brought up the rear in a field of 162 runners.  Before there even was a Blue Train, a large group of VHTRC members made the trip to North Carolina to run the Uwharrie 40 miler, and a bunch of club members participated in some west coast nonsense called the Nino No Go Mugu 50-50, that Chris Scott was responsible for.

Both of these fourteen year old issues were liberally sprinkled with VHTRC member’s race results from events all over the country.  Some other observations?  The race fields were, for the most part, a lot smaller then they are now.  For instance Umstead had 56 finishers. And a lot of the races that crowded a surprisingly full calendar back then, have now gone extinct.

Alongside these old magazines I found my November 2012 issue of Ultra Running, resplendent in all its colorful, slick, and glossy modernity.  The magazine, like our sport, is a work in progress.  The times they are a changin’.  But are they?

Looking inside my newest issue I see a full color picture of our own Suzie Spangler wearing her Furbutt visor, and I can’t miss Mike Strzelecki’s 12 year old son wearing his VHTRC shirt.  The results for The Ring are listed along with the many other results postings that are strewn with VHTRC members names.  Near the end of the magazine there is a note about mister Grand Slam himself Tom Green alongside a picture of Grand Slam finisher Jack Kurisky in his Blue Train shirt.

So, if this isn’t a review of Ultra Running magazine, which it most certainly isn’t, then where in the world am I going with all this?  Well.  It became apparent to me that things have changed a lot over the past fourteen years, and yet we still do what we have always done.  We lace up the shoes and get out there on the trails with our friends.  The VHTRC was a great club back in the day and it is a great club now.  Many of us still travel all over the globe to experience new running adventures, just as many of us did years ago.  We still put on events that just keep getting better and better.  And we still revel in that magical camaraderie of the trail.

The times they are a-changin’.  And that’s a good thing, I think.  Because not only was Bob Dylan right, so in fact was that other guy (Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr) who remarked that the more things change, the more they stay the same. 

At least where VHTRC is concerned, both Dylan and Alphonse Karr were pretty dead on.

If you have any insights into what trail running was like back in olden times, write about it and share it with the rest of us.  I’m pretty sure we’d all love to know more about trail running back in the Stone Ages.

If you have any comments about ancient history or what you think may lie ahead, I’d love to hear from you.

Happy Trails!

Updated date: September 12, 2012 - 10:05pm

2fer one.  Or should that be 2-For One?  Or Two-For One?  I clearly don't know, and it really doesn't matter how we define our annual summer party.  It's a two for one party and all that matters is that we get together and have a great time, all the while wearing two different party hats.

This is the VHTRC Summer Party.  Come and have a good time.  This is the VHTRC Summer Party.  Come and thank all our volunteers.  And if you have volunteered at one of our functions, then come and receive the recognition we owe you.

The summer Party is a chance to hang with other club members in a little bit more grown up atmosphere than what usually breaks out at the end of a trail run somewhere in the mountains.  We have 507 members and I'm pretty sure that none of us know who everyone is.  If you're like me you get to know plenty of folks who run a similar pace to you, but you never get to know those who are always running light years ahead of you.  This party is a chance to solve that little problem.  It's the perfect time for new members to get to know a broader cross section of the club, and it's also a great time to just have a great time.  It's a party for Pete's sake!

This is also the time when we personally invite everyone who has volunteered at one of our events to come and receive the recognition they deserve while joining in the party fun.  This is the time we thank our volunteers for all the time and effort they have given so graciously.

You're running MMT.  You finally come into Gap Creek I aid station.  You're out of water and you need to change your shoes and it is the middle of the night and it is dark and cold and you are hungry and it's raining and...there is no one there?  We couldn't do what it is we love to do without our volunteers.  This party is our chance to recognize and personally thank those who have helped make our trail foolishness possible.

You don't need to bring anything.  If you are a VHTRC member or have volunteered at one of our runs or events, then you are invited.  The party is free and Joe and Michelle have once again volunteered to host us at their home.  If you want to come, please RSVP.  All the information is on the Party Page.

If you have any thoughts about the summer party, or anything else for that matter, I'd love to hear from you.

Happy Trails!

Updated date: October 18, 2014 - 4:31pm

Our membership now stands at 485.  I’m not really sure what this means, but my best guess is that among other things, there must be 485 people who want to run and hang out together on the trails.  The VHTRC seems to me to offer different things to different people.  Of course our club is all about our big three races (Massanutten Mountain Trails 100, Bull Run Run 50, Women’s Half Marathon).  But it is also all about our many and varied fat ass events, our social times together, and that intangible feeling of connection that comes through those shared times out on the Happy Trails.

Two things came along serendipitously, and got me to thinking.  The first thing is the sixth running of one of our fat ass low key runs, the Elizabeth’s Furnace Fat Ass 50km (EFA) which is scheduled for March 10.  The second thing was opening up the March issue of Ultrarunning magazine and seeing a huge article about Maryland runner Mike Morton and his astonishing comeback to ultrarunning.

Quatro Hubbard and Mike Bur have been sharing co-race director duties for the EFA every year since 2007.  But there is some history here that goes back twenty years.  Bear with me.

In 1992 the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) moved its one day 50km hike known as The Dogwood Half Hundred to our neck of the woods.  The hike started and ended at Powell’s Fort Camp.  At that time the camp was open, and hikers could reserve a bunk in one of the cabins, and the post hike food was served in the dining room of the lodge.  The course used a few of the trails that now comprise the EFA course, but in 2000, the PATC reconfigured the course to the course we all now know as the EFA course.

Although the Dogwood Half Hundred was billed as a hike, some miscreant runners found out about it, and so every year there would be a small group of people who ran this challenging course while all the hikers did their thing. The field of runners and hikers grew every year, and by 2000 there were about 250 hikers hitting the trails on the last Saturday in April when the dogwood trees were in full bloom.

The hike route in 2002 was supposed to be the same as before but a last minute forest fire caused a re-route of the event, adding quite a bit of extra mileage.  It was during this rendition of the hike that runner Bonnie Day tripped and fell on the course.  She suffered brain edema, and tragically couldn’t be rescued in time to save her life.  After this sad episode the PATC stopped their support of the event, and thus 2002 was the last Dogwood Half Hundred 50km one day hike.  But in 2007 Quatro and Mike picked up the ball PATC dropped and ran with it.  They started fresh, made it a run, and moved the start finish to the Signal Knob parking lot.  The course was the same one the Dogwood had used in 2000 and 2001, and thus, out of the ashes of the Dogwood, the Elizabeth’s Furnace Fat Ass 50km was born.

I know all this ancient history because I participated in the Dogwood Half Hundred every year beginning in 1991.  For several years I hiked, but by 1997 I’d begin running and thus joined the small band of runners seeking adventure out on our beloved Massanutten trails, and I was there every year up to the end of the event. 

So what does this have to do with an article about Mike Morton?  Like I said at the top, I believe a lot of the appeal of membership in our club is that we’re just a bunch of runners who like to hang together.  So as I prepared to run the EFA and looked forward to this low key fat ass and hanging with other club members, I thought it might be fun to see who I’d been hanging out with back in the day, when the Dogwood Half Hundred was flourishing and serving as the inspiration for one of our beloved events.  So I went to the archives.

I’m not too good with names or remembering who is who, but apparently some guy named Joe Clapper ran most of the Dogwoods and in 1992 he finished in 6th place.  In 1996 Clapper was back and finished 4th.  Ahead of him that year were Eric Clifton, Mitch Craib, and Andy Peterson.  Behind him, Scott Mills finished 5th, and in 9th place was….. Mike Morton.

Some of the top 10 finishers of the dogwood in 1997 were Eric Clifton, Mike Morton, Andy Peterson, Scott Mills, Joe Clapper and some kid named Karsten Brown.  This was the first year I ran and although I wasn’t top 10, I finished up in 24th place.

Familiar names in 1999 included Scott Mills, Bill Wandel, Jeanne Christie, Larry Dehof, Jay Finkle, Carolyn Gernand, and Kev and Faye Hawn.  Pam Gowen ran in 1999 and finished in 24th place. This was a good year for me, and I managed to finish in 14th place, waaaaaay ahead of some young kid in 74th place named Aaron Schwartzbard.  Gee.  Pam and I both finished in front of Aaron. and we must have really scared him because he’s never asked for a rematch.

Derrick Carr and Scott Mills seemed to develop an annoying habit of finishing together in first place.  Clapper continued to be there most of the time along with other people we know like Bill Vantwerp, Ed Demoney, and James Moore. My personal best finish at the dogwood was 10th place in 2002, the final year of the Dogwood, but in a field of hikers this is really misleading.

The EFA is only one of our great smaller low key events.  I think it's the appeal of these small events, just as much or maybe even more than our big premier events, that keeps drawing runners to join the VHTRC.  The fact that our membership continues to grow reflects more than the generic increased participation in trail and ultra running.  I’m pretty sure most of our growth comes from runners seeing what we do and who we are and what we are about.  They can see we have something pretty special going on here, and they know they just have to be a part of it all. 

The Elizabeth's Furnace Fat Ass 50km is just one of our runs that helps to draw in new members.  And as you can now see, those EFA trails have been drawing like minded friends together for a really long time.

If you have any history to share, insights into what our club means to you or anything else at all, I’d love to hear from you.

Happy Trails!

Updated date: July 22, 2011 - 11:26am

Did you ever notice that the really cool race shirt you receive at any VHTRC event doesn't have any advertizing on it?  It may have the name of the race and it might have VHTRC, but it doesn't advertize, endorse, or even mention any sort of sponsor.


Did you ever notice that when you cross the finish line at any one of our races, the banner you run under says only VHTRC?  It doesn't say Montrail, North Face, Patagonia, or anything else.  Just VHTRC.


Did you ever notice that the VHTRC puts on more free events than fee events?


Did you ever notice that for the most part what the VHTRC is all about boils down to nothing more than a bunch of folks getting together and going for a trail run?  That's it.  Let's meet somewhere and just run.


Zany.  Madcap.  Quirky.  Irreverent.  Screwball.  The VHTRC had the amazing good fortune to be founded by a group of guys who were all of the above and more.  Just by chance this bunch of yahoos contained a few guys who were just anal enough to see to it that the rest of the goon squad stayed in line, and so whereas we certainly know how to throw a party, we know how to put on a race too.


The VHTRC is famous for superb course marking and over the top aid stations.  But we're also famous for supporting trail running in our community, informal runs that have become sacred traditions, and an arms wide open welcome to anyone who wants to join in the fun.  We're famous for being a great group of fun loving folks who love running trails, and just happen to put on some of the highest quality races in the country.


We owe a lot to the club's founding fathers for defining what has now become, for lack of a better term, the VHTRC brand. Our brand may mean slightly different things to different people, but it is who we are and how we do things, and unlike brands created by marketing wizards to sell products, we are our brand by simply doing what it is we do.  And all this doesn't happen just by chance, either.


We actually have a formal policy about corporate sponsorship.  This policy enables us to actually be just a group of friends who want to get together for a run and do what we want.  What this policy boils down to is that we're not going to be beholden to anyone or anything.  If you're some corporate enterprise and you want to give us stuff we might take it, but were not going to advertize for you or let you have any control over what we do.  And besides.  Since no one makes a dime off of any of our races we really don't need your stuff anyway, because we already have some of the lowest entry fees around, and that low entry thing is part of our brand too.


We also have a policy concerning support for trail runs that aren't owned by the VHTRC.  It is mandated in our bylaws.  What it says is that if you want to put on a little trail run and you need money, make your case to us and we'll probably help you out.  This is how many of the fat ass runs we all enjoy can have great post run cookouts and offset some of their other costs.


We don't want to be the biggest club or the one that puts on the most races.  We don't want to promote some corporate agenda.  We just want to continue to be a bunch of friends who like to get together and have fun trail running, and we do that in a way that I think sets us apart and helps define our unique brand.  When runners in the trail running world hear Virginia Happy Trails Running Club, they know what that means.  The VHTRC brand is who we are and what we do.  The policies and traditions of our club ensure that our brand continues to define all the things that make our club what it is today.


If you have any thoughts about our brand, or anything else for that matter, please just shoot me an email.


Happy Trails!



Updated date: November 5, 2013 - 3:05pm

VHTRC is remarkably like that couple who began married life in a modest house, raised their family, put on an addition, enjoyed the visits from the grandchildren, fixed up the basement, installed several little storage buildings in the back yard, and never, ever, moved.

We have stuff.  A whole lot of stuff.

During the Bull Run Run, when you come to the Marina aid station, you probably don't ask yourself where those coolers full of water and Gatorade came from, do you?  At last count VHTRC owned nineteen of those things.  When that smiling volunteer filled your hydration pack, she was probably using a club owned pitcher. 

During MMT, in the middle of the night when you finally drag your sorry ass into the Visitor Center aid station, and it's raining, and you are sitting under a portable shelter with lights strung all over it, if I know you, you probably didn't ask yourself where that shelter and the generator that's powering those lights came from now did you?  Yup.  We own those things too.  And when the smiling volunteer hands you your drop bag at Gap #1, rest assured it arrived in one of the gazillion plastic tubs the club owns.

How about Mike's bitchin' sound system that's cooler than the one SONRAP put in the old Nash Rambler?  Well it really isn't Mike's.  We own that too.

VHTRC, by its very definition a running club, somehow survived seventeen years without owning a clock.  We cleared that little oversight up a year ago when we purchased that really cool display clock you'll be staring at as you streak across the Bull Run Run finish line.  Yup.  We also own those colored pennants and even those bollards they're hung from to form the finish chute.

Our clock was kind of expensive, but now with the help of Anstr's timing crew we have control of all our timing needs.  And we've already rented out our clock, and will continue to do so when given the opportunity.

Our race directors know they have all sorts of stuff at their disposal.  Unlike that old couple who never moved and just kept acquiring stuff, we use all our stuff, and it enhances our ability to continue to put on great events.

So if you ever wondered where your cheap dues and rock bottom race entry fees go, just remember that now we can all proudly stuff it.

Check out a list of some of our STUFF.  And if you have any comments or concerns about Stuff, or anything else, please just shoot me an email.

Happy Trails

Updated date: March 8, 2011 - 4:07pm

SWAG.  What does SWAG mean anyway? 

"A bundle; the package or roll containing the possessions of a swagman who is a seller of low-priced trashy goods, trinkets, etc." And a swag-shop, for the sale of such things, was, "formerly, a plunder-depot” presumably because, swag used to mean, "Goods or property obtained by forcible or illicit means."  SWAG evidently also stands for, Something We All Get. 

OK.  Now somebody is probably wondering about SHWAG.  I won’t even attempt to figure that one out.  All I know is that we runners seem love our plunder.  Or SWAG.  Or SHWAG.  Or whatever.

One of the many great benefits of belonging to the VHTRC is that we can all be proud of the cool swag that is available for club members, and as part of our events, but did you ever wonder where all this cool stuff comes from?

Well, I don’t know for sure where it used to come from, but a few years ago a small but  dedicated group within the club got together to form the Swag Committee, and was responsible for most of us getting some pretty cool “official” VHTRC swag. 

More recently the newest iteration of the VHTRC Swag Committee has been the driving force in selecting, designing, and procuring the cool stuff members are able to purchase, as well as some of the swag you and others receive when participating in some of our events. 

The Bored finally got around to defining the Swag Committee’s mission and that can be found here if you’re interested. Swag Committee Policy  But the short version is that the Swag Committee has the responsibility for the design, selection, and procurement of items such as club shirts and other club swag.  The Swag Committee is also always on standby, ready to help our race directors, if asked, with swag for their events.

Keith Knipling is “The Person in Charge” of the Swag Committee.  Quatro Hubbard is the “Board Member Involved,” and the other dedicated folks sharing the work are Pam Gowen, Bobby Gill, Laura Bur and Mel Saraniero.  What has the Swag Committee done lately?  How about those instant collector’s item hats that were given out at The Eagle Run?  Additionally, the committee has been working with Anstr on the selection and purchase of entrants and finishers shirts for the Bull Run Run, and also they are currently working on a design for a new club decal

The Swag Committee.  Members involved in their club, giving of their time and energy, helping to make the VHTRC the kind of club that you and I want to belong to.

If you have any concerns, comments, or input, concerning club swag, or the Swag Committee, grab one of the committee members next time you see them or shoot them an email.

And as always, if you have any concerns, comments, or input concerning this or anything else about the club, please, just let me know.


Happy Trails!

Updated date: January 11, 2011 - 12:35pm

As a result of the growing popularity of our great VHTRC runs, it was only a matter of time until The Bored could no longer ignore the dreaded personal listening device issue.  You know.  Say they’re OK?  Discourage them? Ban them all together?  Our insurance allows the use of personal listening devices, but it also requires we not do anything that can be taken as actively encouraging their use, and this means we can’t put off addressing the dreaded PLD policy any longer.

In a nut shell, this is what we came up with.  We don't want to ban these things.  We simply want runners to be considerate of others with whom they are sharing the trails.


Some runners remain aware of what's going on around them and some don't, and for some runners the use of PLDs is part of this.  We want to remind everyone that on trail runs it is bad manners to be oblivious to one’s surroundings.  We're not banning PLDs, just suggesting that runners be aware and be considerate of others.  This really applies more to runs like the WHM and the beginning of BRR than to MMT or PHT.  So it’s OK to have PLDs, but it’s not OK to use bad judgment as to when you turn them up. Sometimes it’s just plain annoying to be out there with someone who is in another world, especially when you are trying to pass a runner who can’t hear you and doesn’t know you’re even there.

We tried different approaches to this, and after we weighed all the different angles I’m pretty happy with what we came up with.

Personal Listening Device Policy Statement

"The VHTRC discourages the use of personal listening devices by runners participating in our events.  Runners using PLDs are less aware of their surroundings, and can impair other runners, especially on narrow and / or congested portions of the course.  Please refrain from using earphones, ear buds, headphones, or any other device that impairs your ability to hear what is going on around you when you participate in our ultra distance events, especially where there is any chance at all that your lack of awareness may have an impact on any other runner.  For runs shorter than ultra distance you should not carry a PLD at all. It is impolite and simply out of place."

BTW.  This has nothing to do with, and should not be confused with, the new MMT Solo Division requirement of no headphone use.  That is an entirely different matter designed to add an additional small amount of self sufficiency and greater challenge to the other tougher demands of that particular competition.

So.  This is our new policy concerning the dreaded personal listening devise issue.  I think this pretty well covers it.  Of course nothing is forever chiseled in stone, and I certainly welcome feedback on this, or any other issue.  In the meantime, be careful; use your good manners, and Happy Trails.


Updated date: October 6, 2010 - 8:40pm

Imagine that.  I now have my own page.  The President’s Page.  Nice ring to that title.  So.  I presume the question raised is; what to do with my own page?  I think I’ll use this newly opened avenue to communicate things I see as being of interest, to whoever takes the time to read what I have to say. 


  I note that as of October 6, we list 455 members on our roster.  Of these 455 I’m guessing that maybe 100 members are “active” in our club.  I think we usually get about 70 or so at our “official” social events.  I’m not sure what this means, but it does seem to indicate that we have a lot of members who haven't really connected us and what it is we do.


 The only requirement for membership is that you pay your dues.  If you participate in the club’s activities, I think all will agree you get more than your money’s worth.  But if you don’t come out and hang with the other members, hopefully while running with us, we still have your dues. Of course that means more beer for the rest of us.  As much as we like drinking beer, we really would prefer to have everyone participate in the club in some fashion.  And rest assured.  We have never run out of beer due to lack of funding.


 The purpose of our club is pretty simply to get together and run and have fun.  This doesn’t mean it has to be at “organized” events.  How about informal training runs?  Do you have a group that you run with?  Do you meet up with your buddies on Wednesday nights and do a few loops through a park somewhere or get together on Saturday morning and get in a quick 10 miles?   Ever thought of opening up your runs to some other VHTRC members or friends?  If you regularly or even irregularly go out on training runs, how about offering the opportunity for some additional like minded souls to come out and join you?  This is a perfect way for folks to connect with us and what it is we are about, without the pressure or structure of some big “organized” event.  You can share information, learn some stuff from others and possibly make some new friends.  I think this goes to the core of what we are all about.  Getting together and running and sharing time with our friends.  Maybe some of your fellow club members would love an invitation to join in on some of your runs.


 OK I’ll go first.  There is a small group of us that run on the great trails at the Hashawha Environmental Center, just outside of Westminster MD once a week or so, usually on weekday evenings.  As we lose daylight I guess it is more late afternoon than it is evening when we run, but if anyone is interested in joining us sometime, simply get in touch and we’ll make a plan.


 Our Web guru is working on a brand new and easy to use Training Run Web page to make it easy for you to advertise your informal runs and for others to find something they might want to try.  It’s not ready yet but will be any day now.  Keep an eye out for this new page and take advantage of this great way to find friends to run with. What a great way to get more members involved in our club.  Check it out.

 And of course I’m always open to your suggestions, comments, or whatever.  Just let me know what’s on your mind.


Happy Trails