Tidewater Striders Running Club
Almost 40 Years Old and Goin’ Strong
By Jean Phelan
President, Tidewater Striders
Founded by a handful of dedicated runners in 1972 the Tidewater Striders has provided support to the running community for almost four decades. As the club’s leadership speculates on an appropriate 40th anniversary celebration, it is looking at both accomplishments and the road ahead for the 1,600-member club.
The club has produced hundreds of club races and thousands of races co-produced with community partners over the years with over 60 events on this year’s schedule. Using both chip and manual timing for cross country, road races and trail runs from a mile to 50K, the Striders partner with myriad non-profits, school PTA’s and athletic departments to provide the running community with a host of opportunities to run and walk.
Rundown, recognized early on by the RRCA as the top large-club newsletter, provides members with race previews and results, education and nutritional info for runners and member profiles. A year and a half ago the club reduced its dues by 25 percent and shifted to email distribution of the newsletter. While a few complained membership actually increased. The club maintains a great website supporting the entire running community with in depth info on all facets of the club, schedule of club and other regional races, and links to many items of interest to the area’s runners and walkers at www.tidewaterstriders.com
For the past 25 years the Striders have supported a youth running team called New Energy. Using volunteer coaches and financial support from sponsors, this year the team has over 150 members practicing in two different locations in the region preparing them for youth road races and AAU and USATF cross country and tract competition. Dozens of All Americans and one national champion have come from their ranks. Youth members can apply for college scholarships as the club has awarded them for over 20 years and has provided over $13 thousand annually the past two years.
Four grand prix award programs are provided: runners, walkers, multi-sport and youth. These year-long completion leaders and other awards are presented annually at a banquet in the winter. Several other socials including a picnic and free runs and parties are held over the summer.
Walkers focus on formal race walking with their grand prix events all formally judged. They also sponsor USATF sanctioned race walking championships and encourage new walkers through clinics and recruitment, including an annual WalkIt 5K.
Tidewater Striders is an all-volunteer club. Led by a 12-member board, it takes hundreds to make everything happen every year and volunteer recognition is a key ingredient to the club’s success.
Bottom row, left to right-Jean Phelan (president), Sharon Rodier (secretary), Deb Sommer, Lori Sherwood.
Middle-Dan Edwards (treasurer), Amiele Barakey, Steve Patterson.
Top row, Rich Hildreth (VP), Dave Harrah, Bob Brunner, Steve Shapiro.