From May 1-4, over 300 members and supporters of the RRCA gathered at The Davenport Hotel in Spokane, Washington for the 56th Annual RRCA Convention (#rrcaconvention), hosted by the Bloomsday Road Runners Club. Beginning in 1958 and taking place in a different city each year, RRCA Convention represents a great opportunity for running club leaders, race directors, fitness professionals, certified coaches, sponsors, running industry professionals, and runners to come together to share information, best practices, and contribute to the national mission of the RRCA, which is to promote running as a sport and healthy lifestyle choice.
This year"�s convention began on Thursday May 1, with a reception in one of The Davenport Hotel"�s ornate ballrooms. Convention Chair Paul Gill officially welcomed everyone to Spokane from the second story track surrounding the ballroom. RRCA President David Cotter and RRCA Executive Director Jean Knaack thanked the evening's sponsors for their support while attendees enjoyed complementary wine and beer. The Convention leaders encouraged everyone to make the most of not only the planned events, but also the opportunity to make new personal connections, as the majority of the attendees were first timers this year. Special guest Bernard Lagat mingled with attendees at the welcome reception and posed for numerous photos with fans.
Education and information sharing were common themes throughout the RRCA Convention. To kick-off the education program, Terry and Trent Diller from Star Insurance led the discussion on Insurance and Risk Management during the K&K and Star Insurance Breakfast. Both Friday and Saturday"�s schedule included more than fifteen, 75-minute, education sessions on topics such as keeping events safe, working with disabled athletes, club and event governance, improving communication strategies, improving on course medical support, and much more. This year"�s RRCA Convention also included a Coaching Certification Cohort, which sold out quickly. Course registrants were able to receive the full requirement of classroom instruction, while also being able to participate in the social aspects of the weekend.
The Convention hosts made sure to showcase as much of the City of Spokane as possible. Friday night"�s dinner was hosted at the Arbor Crest Winery and sponsored by the Spokane Sports Commission. Arbor Crest is located on a 450-foot cliff, offering picturesque views of the city and surrounding area. Morning group runs took place through Spokane"�s many trails along the Spokane River offering great views of the waterfalls running through town. It was a fitting route for a city that was recently recognized as an RRCA Runner Friendly Community, an honor that was recognized with a formal plaque presentation to a representative from the Spokane Mayor"�s office on Friday morning.
A Trio of Amazing Olympians, Bernard Lagat, Don Kardong, and Deena Kastor, served as keynote speakers at the Convention. Lagat and Kardong both shared lively details about their experiences qualifying for and running at their respective Olympic Games during the networking luncheons. The 2013 Outstanding Runner Friendly Community of Chattanooga, TN was honored with a plaque at the Friday luncheon, while four outstanding RRCA Past Presidents were honored at the Saturday Luncheon. The past presidents including, Gar Williams, Harold Tinsley, Don Kardong, and Bee McLeod, received commemorative yellow RRCA President's shirts. Kastor spoke at Saturday night"�s RRCA National Running Award Banquet, where key contributors to the sport were honored. Kastor was also an active participant in both the Live and Silent Auctions for the RRCA, providing support for the Roads Scholar Fund, RunPro Camp, and the RRCA State Reps. The RRCA was able to raise over $20,000 in support of programs at the auctions and with the raffle drawings. During the National Running Awards Banquet, the RRCA inducted Hall of Fame Members Anne Audain and Ken Martin. Both shared moving speeches about their experiences in running and current efforts in the sport.
The RRCA Annual Meeting of the Membership took place on Friday afternoon where detailed information about the 2013 programmatic and financial performance for the organization was shared with members along with the 2014 budget for the RRCA. The RRCA welcome the attendees who were selected through the Leadership Grant program. These attendees included: Maurice Lee - Oklahoma City Running Club, Rachel Tambling - Williamantic Athletic Club, Steve Bickford - Seven Hills Running Club, and Barry Morrill - LA Leggers. During the course of the meeting, the following members were elected to serve on the RRCA Board of Directors from 2014 - 2016: David Cotter - President, Mitchell Garner - Vice President, Dan Edwards - Treasurer, Mark Grandonico - Eastern Region Director, Sue Brown-Nickerson - Central Region Director.
The RRCA Convention concluded on Sunday, May 4, with the 38th running of the Lilac Bloomsday Run. Convention attendees were treated to starting in one of the earlier starting corrals, putting them at the front of the 50,000 person pack of runners. With perfect weather conditions, including cool temperatures and partly sunny skies, many attendees ran the event with fellow convention goers along the scenic course. Elite athletes in attendance at the RRCA Convention performed well including the top Male Masters Winner, Kevin Castille from Louisiana, who was in town to receive the RRCA/Running Times Masters Runner of the Year Award. Shadrack Biwott, who received the RRCA Road Runner of the Year award on Saturday night, was 7th overall and 2nd American behind Aaron Braun who was 4th overall.
The RRCA Convention would not have been possible without the generous support from our sponsors.
Save the date of April 22-26, 2015 for the 57th Annual RRCA National Convention in Des Moines, IA
in conjunction with the Drake Relays and the Hy-Vee Road Races.