By Kathryn Gleghorn and Kelly “K2” Richards
Lake Grapevine Runners and Walkers, founded in 1997, in Grapevine Texas, is commemorating their 20th anniversary with a yearlong celebration. Known in the North Texas running community as "RAW", the club has grown from its humble beginnings of meeting in a parking lot to a legitimate running (and walking) club with more than 400 membership households from the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.
RAW is an RRCA member club and has been very active in many of the RRCA programs. The club and its members have been the recipients of a variety of National Running Awards from the RRCA including Outstanding Club Newsletter, Excellence in Running Journalism, Outstanding Volunteer of the Year, and Outstanding RRCA State Representative of the Year. Nine members have received the RRCA’s 2000 Hours Outstanding Volunteer Recognition. The club has also hosted several RRCA State Championship and Southern Region Championship races in the 5K, 10K, and 15K distances.
In 2012, the city of Grapevine and their Parks & Recreation Department worked with the club to complete the RRCA’s Runner Friendly Community application process and solicit the accompanying letters of recommendation from public leaders and business owners to support the nomination. Prior to beginning the application process the members of the club attended a city council meeting in which the club’s president took to the podium to garner support from the city’s leadership. Grapevine, Texas was designated as an RRCA Runner Friendly Community that same year. The five-year RRCA designation expires this year, and RAW is busy working on the re-application process to retain Grapevine’s Runner Friendly Community designation.
The RRCA’s Certified Coaching program is another popular program that RAW has utilized and now counts at least half a dozen RRCA certified coaches within their current membership. These coaches have assisted the club in offering a Beginners to 5K training program twice a year since 2013.
As you can see, RAW has been quite active over the past 20 years, and they have a lot to celebrate. RAW's 20th Anniversary committee began their work in mid-2016 to brainstorm the best way to mark this milestone anniversary to include an outreach to the membership, as well as their continued outreach to the local community. To keep things simple, the committee scheduled a monthly event to take place on the 20th of each month. The club held a kick-off happy hour in July 2016 to get the party started. The Cheers to 20 Years Gala on May 20, 2017 was the penultimate and premier event of the yearlong celebration. Several RAW members spoke at the gala along with special guest speakers, RRCA president Mitchell Garner and Olympian Alexi Pappas. Alexi is an RRCA Roads Scholar (2013) who holds the national 10,000 meter Greek record. She is also a writer and actor, starring in Tracktown: the Movie.
While Alexi was in town she participated in RAW's Sunday morning club run. Everyone who came out that day joined us in welcoming Alexi as RAW's newest member. The runners who could keep pace with Alexi were thrilled to log some miles with such an accomplished runner. Alexi was gracious and spent nearly an hour post-run posing for photos and talking with club members.
The final event of the yearlong celebration will be a social run at Grapevine Craft Brewery on June 20, 2017, a day that has been declared Lake Grapevine Runners and Walkers Day by Grapevine Mayor William D. Tate. The club hopes runners from around the DFW Metroplex will join them for this special run. RAW has spent 20 years building their running community, and they hope to inspire other clubs around the country in developing anniversary celebrations.