Thursday, July 24, 2014

Moving Forward

A tale of an unlikely executive director. Who’s next?

By Erin Strout

It was never my plan to be the executive director of Team Run Flagstaff. But it’s the unexpected circumstances that often turn out to be the most gratifying, challenging, and joyful experiences in life.

We were sitting in a TRF board member’s living room in the late summer of 2012. I had just received a job offer as a senior editor at Running Times magazine. In all its clich├ęd glory, it was indeed a dream come true—a chance to combine my deep love of writing, editing, and creativity with my obsession with the sport of running. And I could do it all from the paradise I’d discovered in Flagstaff, Arizona. I wasn’t sure what I had done to deserve it, but my excitement was difficult to contain.

Two TRF directors. Who is next?
Days later, my coach and good friend Mike Smith was offered the Georgetown University women’s cross country head coach position. A superb opportunity for him—one he had to take. All the way across the country. Not only were we losing a pillar of our little running hamlet, but also Team Run Flagstaff’s founder, head coach, executive director, and board president. One person, beloved by seemingly all, leaving us many roles to fill—in a week’s time.

After discussion of various options, voting, some laughter, and perhaps a bit of panic, I took on the executive director position and Vince Sherry was named head coach. He and I looked at each other across the room like deer in headlights. We weren’t quite sure what we had gotten ourselves into, but we were determined to do whatever we could to ensure TRF moved forward without a missing a beat.

That night, in my mind, I was merely filling a void until a more permanent solution presented itself. With a new full-time job at the magazine already on my plate, I couldn’t fathom taking on more than a few month’s worth of responsibilities. At the time, TRF consisted of Tuesday night workouts, Step into Running, the Snowbowl Hill Climb and the Fourth of July Downtown Mile (which was in its infancy). Manageable? Yes. But still a considerable time commitment.

As it turns out, however, Vince and I both tend to dream big and are driven to give possibilities a chance. And we found ourselves working with a board of directors who nourished those tendencies. Two years later, I don’t consider TRF a running club anymore. It’s a nonprofit organization that supports all ages, abilities, and interests through opportunities in running. To a successful and growing community running group, we’ve added Kids Run Flagstaff and TRF Pro to the family, we’ve grown our events, we’ve expanded our workshops, we’ve worked on long-term sustainability, policies, procedures, fundraising, communication, and sponsorships. We’ve built a strong, enthusiastic, unified community and a solid organizational foundation, which I hope propels TRF through decades to come.

We’ve grown up a lot in two years. That isn’t thanks to me—it is thanks to countless volunteers behind the scenes who put their thought and dedication into what we all get to enjoy week after week and year after year, and also thanks to everybody who participates as members and supporters. Because of you, TRF is poised to continue serving the health, fitness, and performance goals of this community long into the future.

And so it’s time for somebody else to step into this executive director role, with new energy, enthusiasm, and ideas. It’s not easy, by any means, to step aside from a job I’ve come to cherish among so many people who I love, but in order to dedicate myself and my full creative energy to my career at Running Times, I need to create more space in my days (and nights!). In that space I look forward to more running, racing, writing, and (yes!) cupcake baking. I also look forward to continuing to serve TRF in whatever ways are most helpful and appropriate, as a volunteer—I believe fully and passionately in its mission, its people, its purpose in the community, and its future. I’ll always be its biggest cheerleader and advocate—I’ll always wear the logo proudly on my shirt, no matter where I race next.

But TRF isn’t about one person. It’s about all the people who come together in the spirit of better health, improved fitness, and good fun. It’s about a one-of-a-kind community that supports goals of all kinds—whether it’s to complete that first mile at Buffalo Park or make the Olympic team. Everybody plays a part in its success and its sustainability. We don’t have sidelines to sit on in the Flagstaff running community. Everybody has to be in the game.

So, no, it was never my plan to be the executive director of Team Run Flagstaff. But I am grateful for the special opportunity to help build an organization that will serve generations of runners to come. Thank you for allowing me that chance and I’ll see you at the track.

Are you interested in the position of Team Run Flagstaff executive director? Click here to see the job description and application instructions. 

Saturday, July 19, 2014

TRF Snowbowl Hill Climb -- Final Runner Instructions!

Thank you for your participation at the Fifth Annual TRF Snowbowl Hill Climb! We hope you're looking forward to a fun morning on our magical mountain!

A reminder that all registered runners will receive 20% off a purchase at Run Flagstaff. Just present your race bib at the time of purchase!

Please read the instructions below carefully to ensure we all have a successful and enjoyable race experience:

1. Race packet pick up is 4-6 p.m. on Saturday, July 19th at Run Flagstaff (204A East Route 66). We encourage everybody to make every effort to pick up their race material during this time, but if need be, we will have bibs available from 5:45-6:30 a.m. at the Agassiz Lodge deck (top of the mountain at the finish line).

2. Race t-shirts are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. We make every effort to accommodate shirt size preferences as best as we possibly can, but sometimes sizes run out.

3. Registration will be available at packet pick up on Saturday at Run Flagstaff and on race morning at the Agassiz Lodge deck. The entry cost is $50 per individual or $135 per relay team -- payable by cash or check (written to Team Run Flagstaff) only.

4. On race morning runners should leave approximately 20 minutes to drive the entire way up Snowbowl Road to the upper two lots (Lots 1 and 2). The upper gate on Snowbowl Rd. at the ski area and the Agassiz Lodge restrooms will be open beginning at 5:20 a.m. Portable toilets will be located at the start line area.

5. Three school buses will be located near the parking lot at the Agassiz Lodge deck. The first bus will begin shuttling runners to the base (starting line) at 6:30 a.m. The final bus will leave for the starting line at 6:45 a.m. RUNNERS ARRIVING AT THE BASE (STARTING LINE -- HIGHWAY 180 AND SNOWBOWL ROAD) LATER THAN 6:15 A.M. WILL BE HELD AT THE FT. VALLEY LODGE PARKING LOT (you won't have enough time to catch a shuttle bus back down). Drop bags can be taken with you on the bus and left at the start area -- they will be transported to the finish line and available when you finish the race. Buses will make stops at all relay exchange zones -- please determine the order of your relay team prior to boarding the bus and exit the bus at the correct exchange zone!

6. There will be three aid stations: Freidlein Prairie Road (2.3 miles), Viet Springs (4.3 miles), and Aspen Corner (6 miles). The aid stations will all be on the left side of the road. The cutoff times are as follows: Freidlein Prairie Road - 8:15 a.m., Viet Springs - 9 a.m., and Aspen Corner - 9:45 a.m. Runners arriving at these aid stations later than these times will be held at the aid station to be picked up by a race shuttle vehicle. Don't worry: Everyone has made the cutoffs in previous years and the last finisher walked a majority of the route.

7. New this year – 3-Person Relay Division! Each team member will run one approximately a 2 to 2.7 mile section of the course. The exchange zones will be located at the aid stations: Freidlein Prairie Road and Viet Springs. The school buses will drop you off at your corresponding exchange zone as you’re headed down the hill toward the start. You can also provide you own transportation to the exchange zone so long as your driver/ride gets you there before your teammate arrives! Please do not park/leave your vehicle at the exchange zones. Please arrange to be dropped off at your exchange zone or take the bus down from the top.
First Leg: Start line to Freidlein Prairie Road – 2.3 Miles
Second Leg: Freidlein Prairie Road to Viet Springs Pullout – 2.0 miles
Third Leg: Viet Springs Pullout to Finish Line – 2.7 miles
Buses will collect all relay runners at their exchange zones. Please try to stay off the road and out of the way of the aid stations and other race participants as much as you can until the shuttle bus arrives. Cheer each other on, have some fun while you're waiting! The bus will take you to the finish line!

8. RUN ON LEFT! STAY ON LEFT! We cannot stress this enough! Our Forest Service permit and (and the future of the race) is conditional upon all the runners staying as far left on the roadway as possible. Please no taking tangents (as tempting as it may be). Remember that the road is NOT closed to traffic during our race -- it's critical that everybody stay left!

9. The finish line is at the Agassiz Lodge deck! As runners approach the top parking lots, they will make a 90-degree turn to the right in to Lot 2 (second lot from top). From here, there will be a short 200-meter straightaway through the parking lot. Pass through the opening in the logs at the end of the parking lot, continue on the sidewalk 50 meters to the finish line in front of Agassiz Lodge. Typical post-race snacks and drinks will be located on the deck. Breakfast burritos will be available for purchase for $6 on the Agassiz Lodge deck. Beer will also be sold on the deck! TIME TO CELEBRATE!

10. Raffles and TRF Gear: All runners will receive one raffle ticket at packet pick up. Relay teams will receive one ticket per team for an additional raffe for $200 cash and $300 in credit toward care at Wilkens Sports Chiropractic! We have a LOT of amazing raffle prizes to give away from our TRF Pro athletes and generous local businesses!

We'll be selling additional general raffle tickets for $2 each or six for $10 (cash or check only -- available at packet pick up and on race day). We'll also have TRF gear on sale (cash or check only) on race day on the deck -- TRF hoodies, long-sleeved tech shirts, etc. Check out the online store for more information and pricing. All proceeds from gear and raffle sales go directly to support the programs of Team Run Flagstaff, a community nonprofit organization serving runners of all interests and abilities!

11. Unique Challenges! (Relay teams not eligible) 
A) Pay ' N Take Fastest First Mile: First male and female runner to the 1 mile mark who still finish the race gets $50 each!
B) Mama Burger Challenge: Fastest male and female runners to eat double cheeseburgers (must finish your burger completely before resuming run) and finish the race get $100 each! Split times will be recorded from the time contestants begin eating the burger to the finish line. Winners will be determined on who has the fastest split, not who gets to the finish first. This could potentially be anyone in the race (front, middle, back) given there are burgers remaining. A total of 20 burgers (12 meat and eight veggie) will be available—contestants will be "served" on a first come, first served basis.
C) Wilkens Sports Chiropractic & Flagstaff Design Center Middle of the Pack Awards: The exact middle of the pack finisher gets $100 and a $200 gift certificate to the Flagstaff Design Center! (Will be split if there is an even number of finishers.)

12. The awards ceremony will be held on the deck of the Agassiz Lodge at approximately 10 a.m. (or as soon as results are tabulated). Prize money for top 3 overall male and female: $200/$100/$50. Other awards will include: first place men and women masters and first place in the age groups; first place for the relay teams. If you are not able to stay to collect your award, it will be available at Run Flagstaff beginning Monday afternoon to pick up.

13. Thank you for the help and cooperation of the local Forest Service and the Arizona Snowbowl -- we couldn't do it without them! Special gratitude to Bob Vance, Jason Stratton, and Sara Gonzalez, who have been instrumental in helping Team Run Flagstaff grow this event. We also want to thank Brooks and the Coconino Amateur Radio Club, as well as the wonderful volunteers who will be out in force on Sunday morning!

14. Please support our sponsors (see below!). We are so appreciative of their continued support, making this race and all-things TRF possible throughout the year!

15. HAVE FUN! Before, during, and after the race, please enjoy the experience. We are here to make the morning as memorable and wonderful as possible, so speak up if there's anything we can do to improve.
We'll see you all at packet pick up this afternoon and again at the startling line! Thank you for supporting the TRF Snowbowl Hill Climb and happy climbing!!

Your Race Directors,
Eric Bohn and Erin Strout
We sincerely thank the following businesses who support Team Run Flagstaff and make all of our events and programs possible:
NorthernAZLogo     RFlogo
Patagonia Footwear Logo     mountainsports
    NAENT_logo blue-1     CanyonPetLogo
kaibaib-logo-doodle-big   kahtoolasoloredblack   WilkensLogo   NATRAlogo   FlagMassageLogo
MamaBurgerlogo  Fratellislogo  BJlogo  CFB-logo-RGB