Graydon, Van Rooden FL, GA RRCA reps

02/20/2014 - 16:30

In recent months, the RRCA has named several new and enthusiastic individuals to the position of State Representative. The reps are in many ways the personal face of the organization, serving as ambassadors in each state and providing a physical presence while promoting RRCA programs and services to clubs and events in their home states.

As the below biographies reflect, this most recent group of State Representatives demonstrate the reach and scope of the RRCA, not just geographically, but in its ability to service members of all backgrounds who are passionate about the sport of road racing.

Florida - North - Bryan Graydon: Bryan has been a member of the Lakeland Runners Club since 2004 after starting off volunteering at the summer race series as a split timer. In 2009, he was voted in as the club vice president and took over as president in 2010 when the club hosted the RRCA National Convention. He was also awarded the 2012 RRCA Outstanding Club President of the Year Award. He is no longer able to run and compete due to knee troubles, but as an RRCA Certified Coach, he lives vicariously through the running glory of those he coaches. Whether it’s a local 5K or a large regional race, you can bet you will find Bryan somewhere among the crowd cheering on the runners as they cross the finish line.  (Note:  Bryan Graydon is a columnist for Running Journal.)

Georgia - Mariska Van Rooden: Mariska lives in Atlanta, GA and started her running career in 2007 in preparation for the Marine Corps Marathon. Since then Mariska has participated in many road races ranging from 5Ks to marathons. In 2010, she decided to add a little bit of swimming and biking to her training and has completed several triathlons including two Ironmans. After having worked as a human resources professional for more than a decade, Mariska decided to switch careers and become a full time endurance coach with a focus on running and triathlons. She is currently a board member of the Metro Area Running Club in Atlanta and works as an endurance coach for Endurance Concepts, an Atlanta-based endurance coaching firm.

Colorado - Will Dillard: Will returned to running in 1989 after years of bicycle racing and triathlons. He has run multiple marathons including Big Sur, Marine Corps, Disney, Chicago, and several other big marathons, as well as numerous half-marathons and hundreds of 5K, 10K, 15K and 10 Milers.  Will has been an RRCA Certified Coach since June 1991 and is also certified by USA Cycling as an Elite Level I Coach and is certified by USA Track & Field as a Level II Coach.  While living in Georgia he was the club coach of the Chattahoochee Road Runners for over ten years and also served as president and vice-president during his time there. As newsletter editor in 2000, he was awarded the RRCA Southern Region Journalism Award for Medium Sized Club.

Hawaii - Ron Alford: Ron has been running for 35 years.  After a 40-year+ career with the Department of Veterans affairs, he retired and moved to Hawaii with his wife.  He lived in many places during his work career and running has always been there for him. He was an active member of the Peninsula Track Club in Newport News, Virginia, both as runner and volunteer. He next moved to West Virginia where he re-activated the Huntington Track Club and partnered with the local parks department to develop the club and promote local running events.  In 2002 Ron became an RRCA Certified Coach and introduced a very successful beginners running program in Huntington, which has some of the highest obesity, smoking, and heart disease rates in the country.  After a job-related move to Atlanta, Ron joined the Atlanta Track Club and served as a volunteer coach for club members. Ron now serves as a staff volunteer with the Honolulu Marathon Clinic, which prepares participants to run the Honolulu Marathon in December.

Massachusetts - Stephen Viegas: Steve returned to the sport of road racing 30 years ago after a 16 year hiatus and continues to compete as a masters athlete in track and field, cross-country, and road racing.  He has been a member of Mystic Runners since his return to the sport, where he is a former president and coach. Steve has also served two terms as secretary and one term as president of USA Track & Field New England and currently serves on its board as the immediate past president. He is a certified RRCA coach and is USATF certified Level I Coach.  Steve can be found most Wednesday evenings timing the Mystic Runners weekly 5K race.  He has met athletes from around the country at national championships and has made many valuable contacts with fellow administrators around the country at USATF annual meetings and workshops.  He looks forward to networking with athletes and other stakeholders in his new role of RRCA State Rep.

New Jersey - Erica Phillips:  Erica is a graduate of Syracuse University with a degree in Kinesiology. She currently lives in Hoboken, NJ and has an extensive background in dance.  She is also a personal trainer and coach for athletes. Her passion for the sport of running began as a family affair when Erica’s father started taking her out on his daily runs when she was a young girl. She has been running ever since. To this day, her favorite running partner is still her father. Erica loves running any type of race – from 5K’s to half marathons.  She has completed marathons in Hartford, CT, Providence RI, Long Branch, NJ, and most recently, the Marine Corps Marathon.  Her ultimate goal is to complete a marathon in all 50 states.

New York - Michael Eighmey:  Michael, a 12 year veteran of US Naval Special Warfare, has competitive experience that includes: trail and road running; multisport events; and mountain and road cycling. His current personal running endeavors are focused around ultra-distance running, with an eye on the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning.  Michael’s background also includes professional coaching experience at the collegiate, scholastic, and youth levels. He and his wife, Sarah, reside in Geneva NY with their four children. They are co-founders of the Seneca Lake Running Club and currently coach high school Cross Country.

Ohio - Jim Latham: Jim Latham has been chasing his wife around ever since he met her, ensuring she stayed hydrated and vertical on her long runs. Not only does he enjoy half marathons and various trail races, but this led to volunteering at numerous races where he ensured other runners stayed hydrated and vertical – including having been a sector lead with the USAF Marathon, and also the Boston Marathon where he volunteered the last few years with the Security Team at the finish line.  He is the president of, and a race director for, the almost 1,700 member, all-volunteer Ohio River Road Runners Club in Dayton. Jim has made it a priority to upgrade the Club’s EMS support and create a comprehensive plan providing full EMS support for 40+ road and trail races a year. He is also a certified Wilderness First Responder with experience in both front and back country situations. When not otherwise engaged with the running community, he works as an NDVMA Americorp Volunteer Naturalist for Five Rivers MetroParks at the Germantown MetroPark Nature Center doing outreach and advocacy programs, hikes, and facilitation for people of all ages to get outside.

Pennsylvania - Jeff Hills: Jeff is a later-in-life runner, having started when he was 48 years old, at the time his oldest son, Kyle, graduated from college.  His motivation was two-fold: to get in shape and to spend some quality time with his son.  Four years later his life has never been better. What started as just a few 5K’s every weekend or so has eclipsed into running two 100 Milers, ten 50 Milers, countless 50Ks and numerous other race distances, primarily on trails.  As an active member of the Pagoda Pacers Athletic Club, he’s been afforded the opportunity to run and train everyday with some of the strongest trail runners on the east coast, and on some of the most spectacular trails.  For the last three years, he’s been the race director for the Grings Mill 5 & 10 K Run which annually draws over 625 participants and has been one of the longest consecutive races in his area, having now completed its 36th year. 

Washington - Paul Gill: Paul Gill began running late in life in 2005 as a way to lose weight and get in shape.  After losing 50 pounds, he ran his first marathon in May 2005.  He has been running ever since, and to date, has completed 20 marathons, two ultras, and 30 half marathons.  Paul joined the Bloomsday Road Runners Club in 2007 and has served on the board for four years and is very involved in his running community.  Paul is currently a race director for two races in Spokane, WA, and serves on the board for the Spokane Marathon.  He is also the chairperson for the 2014 RRCA National Convention in Spokane.

To learn more about all RRCA State Representatives and to connect, visit the RRCA State Reps page and find your state.  You can easily find RRCA member clubs and events in your state under your State Reps individual page.

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