by: George Rehmet, RRCA President
Today, June 7, 2023 is Global Running Day – the day we celebrate the diversity of our sport of running. Celebrate the day with a run either individually, or with a group to celebrate this day. Many of us will make a commitment to sign-up for our goal race, splurge on a running product, or try a new route, which is all great! At RRCA, we encourage you to use our sport to make our world a better place. Consider our recommended action items to help us achieve our vision of Empowering Everyone to Run:
- Get inspired! A favorite technique is to read books about runners helping others. Devoted: The Story of a Father’s Love for His Son is about the Dick and Rick Hoyt team. The story covers how, Dick and Judy, fought to keep their son Rick included in society. It outlines how running together created a powerful bond between parent and child. Races organizers around the country were inspired to assist this famous team to participate in the sport, and Team Hoyt created groundbreaking opportunities for adaptive athletes to participate in events.
Inspiration can also come from people breaking down barriers created by society. Running While Black : Finding Freedom in a Sport That Wasn’t Built for Us, by Alison Mariella Désir, is about how running helped her, but more important, the book outlines the barriers and dangers that exist runners of color and how people must work towards addressing the issues to make running safe and accessible for all.
Good for a Girl: A Woman Running in a Man’s World, by Lauren Fleshman, a professional runner who won five NCAA Championships at Stanford and two national championships, details the dark underbelly of women’s sport, abuse of athletes, and the need for reforms.
Alternatively, watch a film. 26.2 TO LIFE is a new documentary that tells the story of incarcerated men who are members of the 1000 Mile Club at San Quentin prison, the prison’s long distance running club. They train all year to complete the marathon distance, over 105 dizzying laps around a crowded prison yard. This club is led by Frank Rouna, 2022 RRCA Volunteer of the Year. Of the 45 inmates from the Mile Club that have been released, none have re-offended. The documentary shines a light on the humanity of these prisoners, and shows the power of running to positively affect if those that society may not consider redeemable.
- Volunteer at races! Volunteering is always on the top of the list for people who make a difference in our sport. Without volunteers, there would be no races. Yes, it’s great to thank the volunteers at races you run, but it’s even better if you take a weekend volunteer yourself as part of giving back to the sport. Be inclusive and welcoming of all people in your volunteer work.
Volunteer for your running club and show appreciation for your club members and board of directors or leadership team. Club board members/leaders serve because they care about their fellow club members and their running community. Just like race volunteers, saying thanks is great, but offering to help and step-up or lead club activities is better. Honor dedicated volunteers with the RRCA 2000 Hour Service pin and certificate.
- Donate! With family, work, training, social demands, lack of time may be a factor for engaging in the first 3 action items. Don’t underestimate the importance of giving back to the sport by donating money. If your club has a scholarship program for recent high school or college graduates, give to the fund. If your club or community has an organized youth running program, give to the program to support the next generation of runners. Give to your club’s general fund to support group runs, social functions, and more. Want to make a national impact? Donate to one of the RRCA funds: Kids Run the Nation grants, RunPro Grants, Coaching Scholarship grants, and our Annual Fund. Your donation enables the RRCA to grow and enhance our valuable programs that benefit the running community and Empower Everyone to Run.
About the RRCA: The Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) is the oldest and largest national association of running organizations and runners dedicated to empowering everyone to run since 1958. The RRCA champions the development and success of community-based running organizations that empower all people to participate in the sport of running in pursuit of enjoyment, health, well-being, and competition. Learn more at: www.rrca.org