A VIEW FROM THE STARTING LINE

I guess the thing I'd first like to say in this installment of 2008 is “Hello.”

Over the past several years, I've come to know many of you through the local race scene or via other club and running-related activities. And to the last, I've enjoyed meeting each and every one of you, and sharing this thing we call running.

But since many of you don't know me, I should introduce myself and share with you some of my philosophies. I didn't grow up in the Hudson Valley – I'm a central New Yorker ( Syracuse ), roots-wise. But I have come to know and love the Valley over the nearly 13 years I've lived here, and on most days, can't imagine living anywhere else. It's a beautiful place to experience all the many things this world has to offer, and as most of you are aware, it's a glorious and challenging place to run. My wife Marie has been running almost all the time I've known her, and although our two sons Conor and Brett have not taken up running wholeheartedly yet (perhaps still a bit young at ages 9 and 7) my hope is that the exposure they are getting now will plant seeds that sprout when the time in their life is right.

My firmest belief with regard to running is that it is something unique to each one of us. In that respect, we own it on the most individual level. And being that our running is our own, it almost flies in the face of the club concept, doesn't it? My doctor reminds me that running is a lonely sport, and in many ways, it is. But the flip side of the coin is that being part of a community such as ours can be a great source of inspiration and motivation.

There's an esprit de corps to the group aspect that you simply don't get when you're in the twelfth week of your 16-week program and you've done every last darn training run by yourself! There are a certain percentage of “lone wolfs” out there, for sure – I know a few myself. But by and large, my thinking is that we can make the best of ourselves when we are sharing at least part what we do with like-minded others.

And so it was with this idea that the arms of the Orange Runners Club first embraced me in 2003. I'm grateful that they did, and I look forward to a long-time, mutually beneficial association.

As we enter 2008, I encourage all of you, both new members and long-timers alike, to embrace the club and help make it all that it can be to you. Get out and do some of the races and challenge yourselves. Seek out group runs to keep your inspiration and motivation at its peak. Volunteer for a club (or even a non-club) activity - it feels good to give of your time and efforts.

And by all means, spread the faith, through both your words and your actions. My goals in this new post are to promote the club's growth, increase its profile in the community, and to continue to bring the many walkers out there into our special fold.

There are many things to look forward to this year. The familiar roster of events will be in store – the Winter Series of races (already underway), the Interclub Challenge, the Classic 10K & 5K (not a club event, but certainly a cornerstone event in Orange County), the Walk Party, the Bull Run, and finally the Jingle Jog. In addition to these familiar events, there will be many other running related activities for our members to enjoy. I will make it a priority to champion group runs this year, as has been done in the past by former president Dave Badolato and others. In my opinion, the sense of community in group running is not something that can be overemphasized.

But more that anything else this year, I look forward to becoming acquainted with many more of you, and sharing something that we have in common – a passion for health, fitness, and the self-exploration that is at the very core of being a runner. Here's to a great year, and by all means, keep running!

Todd Jennings
ORC President