The other day I was thinking about the economic crash of the late 2000s. I had not been active in the Greenville Track Club very long then, and what really made an impression upon me was how the club served as a constant in people’s lives and in the community as a whole during that time. Our running community experienced a lot of stress and disruption in those years, and many people I knew relied more than ever on running to mitigate that stress and keep them focused upon weathering the storm. Many local charities also struggled during that time, and those who received donations from the GTC relied more than ever upon them during those years. There was one agency in particular that was able to stay afloat due in large part to donations from our club. When I saw all that at work, I thought “this is the place where I want to be.”
This club has seen many changes over the past half-century. It has seen trends come and go, seen markets ebb and flow, seen shiny new objects lose their luster. Through it all, it has remained a constant, something that the community can count on. This situation is a little different – OK, a lot different. But one thing that has remained constant is our commitment to the well-being of our community and to being a source of strength and stability during tough times. Like everyone else, we pulled back at first out of concern for the safety of our runners and volunteers; and out of that concern, we have come back slowly and deliberately, placing our responsibility to community above all else. We came up with new ways to do things, followed science and the guidelines of our sport’s governing bodies, and refused to play politics. And by the final months of the year, we were able to host several events with live timing, course certifications, and strict safety protocols. In doing so, we laid a foundation for a strong comeback in 2021.
In the coming year, our club will lead the way in bringing the community out of this pandemic with the events that Greenville has come to know well over past decades. The Run Downtown will be a little different this year, but with our Virtual-Plus format, it will be live-timed on a certified course. At approximately 20 years old, the RDT 5k is one of the younger races on our calendar, although there was a 10k under that moniker before that. Next up is the Green Valley Road Race, also a little different this year but live with safety protocols in place in an alternative setting. The GVRR is over 40 years old, as is the Reedy River Run, which is tentatively scheduled to happen live in April. As the summer approaches, we have the Sunrise Run 8k in Simpsonville, the All-Comers’ Meets, and the Open and Masters’ Meet, all of which are 40+ years old. And who knows: we may have a new event or two mixed in among those stalwart races! Either way, we will continue to be that source of strength and stability that we have been for nearly half a century.
We are more than just another running club. We are more than just another race organizer. We are more than race discounts. We are more than free singlets (don’t you love those orange singlets, though?). We are more than meetings, more than awards, more than donations, more than the sum of our parts. We insist upon being more, as leaders in a community and a city that insist upon being more.
We are the Greenville Track Club, the greatest running club in the Carolinas, 48 years and running, separate but (for now) together.
Happy New Year, and God bless this wonderful community.
Mike Burchett, GTC president