Meet the Candidates 2017


Meet the Candidates 2017

This year we have one open seat for the Capital Striders Board of Directors, and three fine candidates hoping for your vote!  We asked each to answer a few questions to help you get to know them.   Here are their answers:


Brian Brunk

1.  What area(s) of the club would you focus on as a Board Member?  Some of the examples are:  membership, scholarship, equipment, club races, newsletter/social media, merchandise, social functions, bookkeeping/financials, volunteer coordination, training runs, etc…  I would be glad to assist where I am most needed; however, I feel I would add most value in club races, and social functions or volunteer coordination.

2.  What special skills would you bring to the Board?  Ninja skills!  Sorry, I couldn’t resist the Napoleon Dynamite reference.  I enjoy volunteering, helping others, and adding value or creative input wherever I can.  I’ve spent over a decade in the service industry, which can translate to race or volunteer efforts.  I’ve also served as a corporate trainer, so am able to help facilitate discussions and events, and assist in their coordination.    

3.  How have you been involved with the Capital Striders in the past?   I joined Capital Striders a little over two years ago. Since then, I’ve participated in a number of training runs, and raced and/or volunteered in the Loop the Lake, Capital Pursuit, and the Sycamore 8.  Additionally, I attended last year’s annual dinner. 

4.  Tell us about yourself - work, family, running experience, civic activities - anything you would like people to know.   I’m the middle child of six boys from a family brought together through divorces, remarriages, and adoption.  My parents were not supportive of sports, and I was only involved in wrestling in high school.  Now I wish I had been a runner to see what my potential then could have been.  After high school I had injuries to both knees, which kept me away from running until I decided to give it a try at age 41.  I took up running to spend time with my wife on her runs at her parents farm, and found I enjoyed it for my own stress relief and fitness.  Since then I’ve ran five marathons in five states, qualifying for Boston last year in Houston, but missing the time cutoff for 2017.  I’m still very proud of the accomplishment.   I’m very happily married to my amazing wifeAndrea, who is always supportive of anything I want to be involved in.  We both volunteer our time and treasure to numerous organizations, including United Way, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central Iowa, the Educational Leadership Initiative, and Best Buddies.   I have two boys, aged twenty and five.  The twenty year old is an amateur MMA fighter, and I’m proud to see the man he is becoming.  The five year old is a great joy in our life, as it’s a wonderful age and he’s just a great, bright kid with a big heart and sense of humor. 

5.  Fun question:  if you were a vegetable, what vegetable would you be and why?  I’d be a rutabaga to be their advocate, as they are an underrated root vegetable in need of a good promoter.



1.  What area(s) of the club would you focus on as a Board Member?  Some of the examples are:  membership, scholarship, equipment, club races, newsletter/social media, merchandise, social functions, bookkeeping…..  As a Board Member I feel my strength of focus would be the club races, social functions and training runs.  I’m a relationship person and I truly love people, helping others, and I have the time to volunteer.   I also love the whole camaraderie around running, races and people and all of these events involve people. 

2.  What special skills would you bring to the Board? As I mentioned above my love of people and helping others would be a special skill I would bring to the Board.   The Capital Striders organization is definitely about people and helping people/runners be the best they can be not only as runners but as individuals.  I’d be a motivator!  I’m very passionate about running and sharing my experiences and being involved in the running community.  I’ve been a Board Member for the Ronald McDonald (RM) House for 10 years.  I loved my time on the Board at the RM house, and I also understand what it takes to be involved in becoming a Board Member.  I helped out on many volunteer committees while I served my time on the Board at the RM House, and one volunteer duty was being a co-leader in the 10K/5K Run for Ronald for two years.  This opportunity gave me the experience to help organize races.

3.  How have you been involved with the Capital Striders in the past?  I’ve been a Capital Strider member for many years.  I’ve helped out at water tables for a couple of races, and annually Dana Kramer and I are “girls with jugs” for one of the CS training runs.   I like to sign up and run the CS runs; I attend the membership meetings in March; and I love to promote the CS organization to my friends and families. 

4.  Tell us about yourself - work, family, running experience, civic activities - anything you would like people to know.  I have two wonderful sons – Chris (age 28) and Taylor (age 25) that I adore immensely. I currently live in Urbandale, IA.  I graduated from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln (yes, I’m a HUGE Husker fan!), and I have been in the insurance/finance world ever since.  I currently work for a wonderful financial advisor by the name of Marty Smith and Steele Capital Management.  My running career started after college when I was working for Mutual of Omaha in Omaha NE.  The company had a running club and I thought it was a lot of fun as I met a lot of new people, and I actually became a pretty good runner.  In my younger days I broke a 40 minute 10K (39:43) and qualified for Boston (3:30), but actually didn’t run Boston until I was older (April 2016).  I feel I could go on and on about my running career and my highs and lows, but the biggest high that stands out for me is all of the wonderful relationships and friendships that I have acquired throughout the running world.  To me that is my most successful accomplishment. 

5.  Fun question:  if you were a vegetable, what vegetable would you be and why?  I’ve thought about this question a lot, and I will come up with a short but truthful answer.  If I were a vegetable I would be a carrot.  Why?  A lot of people don’t care for all of the vegetables out there, but most people like carrots.  And I feel that most people like me.



1.      What area(s) of the club would you focus on as a Board Member?  Some of the examples are:  membership, scholarship, equipment, club races, newsletter/social media, merchandise, social functions, bookkeeping/financials, volunteer coordination, training runs, etc…  My first area of board focus would be to put my talents where they can be best utilized.  I cannot speak to the greatest need on the board today, but my biggest strengths are creating data strategies, which I think will be helpful for membership and related areas (see more details in #2 below) and I am interested in social function, volunteer co-ordination and training runs.  I would also like to take advantage of new opportunities on the board, so I would be very interested in participating in other areas of greatest need.

2.  What special skills would you bring to the Board?  I have spent over 15 years working in data and analytics at the Principal Financial Group, which has led to an expertise and passion in this field.  I believe these analytical skills will provide some value to the operations of the board, but I am most excited about how they can help the organization grow.  I have worked with other non-profits on data strategies, and I am excited about how we can use data and technology to grow and engage our membership and outreach.  I am also trained in finance, and will be able to leverage those skilled where needed, as well as utilize my personal and professional network for the good of the organization.

3.  How have you been involved with the Capital Striders in the past?  I came to running relatively late in my life, starting at age 38.  Since falling in love with my favorite hobby, I feel like it’s not I have chosen running, but running has chosen me.  I have run 2 marathons (2 Chicago and 1 Des Moines).  I was overjoyed to finish my first, but my proudest achievement was dropping my time by 100 Mins in the second to a finish of 3:41.  I now have my sights set on qualifying and running the Boston marathon.  I love the diversity of the running community, and I believe my life experience will resonate with many others. I have participated in most of the training runs prior to my Chicago last year and the training run were one of reason why I finished at my PR. I have also participated in 10 mile, Hill billy half being part of striders. I would love to help my part for Capital Striders in any way I can. I have encouraged a lot of friends who were sedentary to become part of Capital Striders and many of them are now and are trying to finish their first half or full marathon in 2017.

4.  Tell us about yourself - work, family, running experience, civic activities - anything you would like people to know.  The love of my life is my wife Sanju, and our sons Rohan (8) and Aakash (4).  I have worked at Principal since moving to Des Moines nearly 15 years ago, and my current position is Assistant Director of Advanced Analytics.  When I am not running in my free time, you will likely find me on the cricket pitch where I was a founding member in Avengers Cricket Club and have led the team to 3 champions in the last 3 years.  My family and I live in West Des Moines, and are very engaged in the Indian cultural societies and activities around town, as well as other arts and community building activities. I am also a board member of Gateway Dance Theatre in East Village which makes arts and dance accessible to all. My wife is huge participant in theatre scene in Des Moines  and have participated a lot of plays thru Gateway Dance Theatre.

5.  Fun question:  if you were a vegetable, what vegetable would you be and why?  I would be a jalapeno pepper due to its vibrancy and healthfulness.  I spent the first 25 years of my life in my home country of India, which instilled a love and passion for spicy food.  Jalapenos are a great way for me to provide the nostalgic flavor that I love to any meal in my adopted country.  Jalapenos are also very versatile, something I strive for in my life and career.  This nutritious food helps with immune systems, migraine relief, and inflammation and also has positive benefits for fighting cancer, the nervous system, and pregnant mothers.


2016 was another stellar year for the Capital Striders. We invite you to join us to celebrate our club successes at the Annual Dinner on March 24.   Please plan on attending our 2017 Annual Dinner where we will recap the year with some great success stories, door prizes, sponsor and volunteer of the year recognition, great food, board member elections and a fantastic speaker.  You can find more information about this event here.


100 miles in November Challenge


100 miles in November Challenge

By now many of you have completed your fall marathon/half marathon goals and are looking towards the upcoming holiday season.  Here’s your motivation to keep moving!  Don’t give in to the cooler temps and all things pumpkin and just snuggling into the couch to watch Netflix. 

Accept the 100 mile Challenge!  Keep moving!  Embrace fall and the cooler temps!  Hello Fall weather! 

100 miles in 30 days is just 3.3 miles/day! 

To Enter the Challenge:  Send an email to:

We are using a Google Docs spreadsheet to track who is participating and to log all your miles.  You will get a reply email with a link to the spreadsheet.  Find your name and starting November 1, start logging your miles!   The Google Doc is a public spreadsheet to everyone that has the link.

Be Social:  make sure you follow the Capital Striders Facebook and Twitter pages, and if you’d like to share your twitter username, I’ll include that in the Google Doc so you can all find, follow, and motivate each other!  Be sure to use #100StridersMiles in all your posts!


•  All who have logged 50 miles by the end of the day on November 15 (half-way point) will be entered into a drawing for a mid-month prize! 

•  There will also be random drawings through the month for those who are staying current by consistently logging their miles each week.

•  All who have logged 100 miles by the end of the day on November 30 will be entered into a drawing for the grand prize!

Winners of the half-way point and the end of the challenge will be announced the following morning on the Striders FB page and winners will be contacted directly to make arrangements to receive their prize.


  1. The Challenge starts November 1, 2016 and ends on November 30.  (November 4 is the deadline to enter the Challenge.)
  2. Only running miles count.  (Not daily steps, biking, etc…)
  3. Miles need to be logged on the Google Docs spread sheet.  We are trusting participants to be honest with their self-reporting – and to only report/log their own miles.
  4. You are responsible for logging your own miles.  If you have problems accessing the spreadsheet, send an email to:
  5. No entry fee, no cost.
  6. Please pay attention to your body, don’t try to reach the 100 mile goal at the expense of an injury.


PS… the inspiration for this challenge originated with a fellow runner from Eastern Iowa, Angie Maske-Berka.  Angie has a great social media presence and is currently well on her way to completing her 2016 goal of a marathon a month!  You can follow her on Twitter at @AngieMaskeBerka


Presidential Corner: Thank you for the past 2 years!!!

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Presidential Corner: Thank you for the past 2 years!!!

Well, to my unbelievable dismay, during my Presidency this blog has gone completely unmanaged. I want to apologize for the lack of content that has come along with this, but there is a new chapter ahead.

As many of you know, I have had the great honor of being the President of the Board of Directors for the Capital Striders for the past two years. I went into the "gig" with the thought that it would be a great way for me to build my leadership for my professional resume, meet some people and get some cool things done for our club. What I didn't realize when I took over, however, was the amazing things that I've been able to experience and the incredible people who have been on this ride with me.

During my time as President, sure, I made some mistakes. I've said some things that have hurt some people. I've made some decisions that may not have made me the most popular. I've taken some risks when putting on races that made my fellow board members question my sanity, but during all of that my main focus was on YOU. The members of the club. The people that faithfully put your hard earned money into our races and into the community. My main focus has always been the ways in which we can make the club valuable to you and valuable to our community. I have put a lot of time and energy into taking the club in the direction of inclusion of all of our Central Iowa running community and having the best damned time possible.

I've missed out on a ton of sleep with anxiety. I've missed a lot of events with my kids because I was doing club stuff. During certain times of the year I drank too much beer because of the stress. I've messed up scheduling a ton of meetings (the board members know what I'm talking about). I've typed nearly 10,000 emails to race participants, sponsors, financial institutions, insurance companies, portable toilet businesses and to my board members. There has been an amazing amount of stress that came with the title and I've been asked if I would do it again. I can honestly say that because of what we've been able to accomplish as a part of this board, I would say....ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

While I am not stepping away from the board, I was voted on for an additional 2 years at the annual dinner, I will be taking a step back from the duties that I did have. As my family is expanding to a 6th member, it is time for me to focus my energy on my family, my training and my goals. I refuse though to let go of my passion to take the club to the next level and make our club the best in the country and will work with the incoming directors to do so.

I want to thank all of the members of the board that I've been lucky to share my Presidency with. I am humbled by all of your desire to make the club great. I know that I've said this before to all of you, but you are the most amazing people in this crazy sport and your love for people is unparalleled. I have nothing but the most respect and love for all of you.

Personally, I want to give a huge thank you to Mike McGinn who just finished up his 6th year on the board. Mike has been my cornerstone for the past 24 months when it comes to club stuff. Never one to shy away from telling me that I'm being an idiot. Never one to ignore a frantic phone call or text message. I have a lot of love and respect for this guy and he has been an absolute blessing for me and to this club for the last 6 years.

Lastly, I want to thank all of you for everything that you've given to me for the past 2 years. It has been a blessing from God for me to have done the things I've done and experienced the highs and lows of having been YOUR president. You have been so accepting of me as a person and as a leader. For someone who has failed and gotten back up so many times in my life, this past 2 years has been incredible. I love you all!!!!

While I am sad to leave some of the responsibilities, I must say that I couldn't be more happy than handing the baton to Brian. He has such an spectacular heart for people and his ideas for the direction of this club are incredible. He has said that he has big shoes to fill following me (which I do have incredibly big feet) but honestly I've just had the pleasure of preparing the club for him and the amazing things that he is going to accomplish. You guys are in for a wild ride with him :)

Signing off for my last "Presidential Corner", as I always say:

Stay Strong, Run Long,


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Member Spotlight: Jessica Pendleton (The Gnarly Bandit)

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Member Spotlight: Jessica Pendleton (The Gnarly Bandit)

People often ask me, "What is it that motivates you?" My response is one that I have crafted over the years and is completely true. I LOVE to watch people do amazing things. Whether that be in business, philanthropy or sports. I love to watch people follow their passion and just do extraordinary things. I chose the next person to do a member spotlight on because of her passion to push what is thought of to be possible. She is a wife, a mother, a friend and an amazing runner. This edition of the member spotlight highlights the Gnarly Bandit herself, Jessica Pendleton.

I have known Jessica for a couple of years now and consider her to be one of the baddest ladies I have ever met. As you will read in her bio, Jessica was like many of us who started running as a way to lose weight. In the years since her first "jog" she has done some truly mind blowing things, has become one of the "faces" of the CS Turkeys and a true model of ultra running in Central Iowa. She has seen high times in races and some incredible lows and continues to learn and refine what she is capable of doing. She is someone who I truly admire and draw a lot of strength and knowledge from. Please enjoy!!!!

- Brad

Running has changed my life in every way.

10 years ago I didn’t run at all.  In fact, I smoked and was generally uninterested in exercise or anything physically challenging.  In 2007, I quit smoking and (as is typical) gained weight.  To lose weight, I dieted and started walking.  I got bored and a little inpatient with walking and picked a couple spots on my walks to jog to for short stretches.  I was kind of shocked that I could do it at all.  And, it worked.  I lost the weight and found that jogging doesn’t kill you.  In fact, sometimes, it felt kind of good that I could move my body in that way.  Then, Mom bought me a book, Marathon: You Can Do It! by Jeff Galloway.  Using the run-walk-run method, I decided to take on an audacious goal of completing a marathon.  In 2009, I joined the Capital Striders and started doing my long runs with them.  Encouraged by my new running friends’ support and my own desire to do something ‘crazy’ I completed my first marathon in 2009 (the Des Moines IMT).  I cried the last couple miles: amazed by the fact I really was doing this.   This was the start of building the kind of unshakable self-confidence I had really desired all my life.  This was me, accomplishing things I thought were hard.  I was addicted. 

I did my next marathon the following spring (2010) in Madison, WI.  There I heard about ‘crazy’ people that ran 50 mile races in the woods on trails.  Wow.  Could I do that?  Maybe… The wheels started turning and I signed up for the Ice Age 50.  And, it was hard.  Really hard.  But, I finished and was blown away that my body could do such things! 

Then, injury hit late 2010.  I was training hard and enjoying what my body could do.  But it was too much, too soon, and I got a stress fracture on my right tibia (the main shin bone).  I was disappointed, but also completely committed to a full healing, so I took all of 2011 off from racing.  I did physical therapy to improve my gait.  I started doing yoga and I started rowing (all as cross-training).  And slowly started running again.  By the second half of 2011, I was feeling strong and looking for my next challenge… a hundred miler(!).

In 2012, I attempted Zumbro 100 in MN and DNF’d.  I was shocked the amount of pain you had to tolerate and general grit you had to have to finish a 100.  I wanted to be one of those people that could do it.  I doubled-down and did a trail double marathon in Michigan and then signed up and FNIISHED (!) my first 100, Lean Horse, in SD.  Then, I started snowshoeing that winter because it was beautiful outside and some of my other running friends raved about it.

In 2013, I set such a big goal for myself that I was embarrassed to tell anyone for fear they would think I was stupid and crazy to think that I could do such a thing.  I signed up for the Gnarly Bandit series.  To complete the series you have to finish four 100 mile races and one 100k in a year.  That year, with the help and support of my running friends and my ever-patient family, I completed that series and commemorated the completion with a tattoo.  I felt compelled to get that tattoo as a constant physical reminder that I can do hard things.  Challenges so hard that at times, I didn’t think I could.  That winter, I started cross-country skiing, because, well, I had some running friends that raved about it and it just looked fun (see a pattern?).

In 2014, I felt free to accept crazy challenges.  Why not?  I’ve failed and succeeded, and loved every painful and joyful crying moment, because they kept improving me and improving my capacity to live and love and enjoy everything around me more.  I did Rocky Raccoon 100 in TX (first time with no pacer), Syllamo 3 Day in AR (gained experience in minimal course flagging), Peak 500 in VT (experienced my first multi-day race; DNF’d at 200 miles), Fat Dog 120 in Canada (most beautiful course), and Ozark 100 in AR (did a race with no crew and no pacer – but lots of friends!).

This year, I went back to some favorites (Syllamo and Zumbro), tried Infinitus 888k in VT (DNF’d at 456 miles), enjoyed Post Oak (fun 2 days in OK with friends).  Next, I’ll be doing RAGBRAI later this month followed by Ouray 100 in CO (most elevation change I’ve tried), Plain 100 in WA (first time self-navigating), and Bear 100 in UT (coinciding a family trip with a beautiful course). 

So, what has running given me?  Self-confidence, gumption, grit, knowing myself more, appreciating others more (you get to meet some phenomenal people out there), grown my capacity to love myself, others, and the world around me, the joy of other sports and activities, love of nature, love of adventure, trust in myself, trust in others, an appreciation of rest and of challenge (mental and physical), how to live life fully, and how to give yourself over to your passions and let them change you.

- Jessica Pendleton

Turkeys wading: (L to R) David Green, Jessica, Charlie Huynh, Gary Davis

Turkeys wading: (L to R) David Green, Jessica, Charlie Huynh, Gary Davis

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Presidential Corner: 2014. The year of the "had"


Presidential Corner: 2014. The year of the "had"

I have been told that you "never look back on the 'year that was' but look at the previous year as the 'year that you had'". You may look at those to quotes and think, "Brad, I don't think you have had enough coffee and are delusional. They mean the same thing." Honestly, the first time I heard that I thought they were the same thing too, but look at the statements a little closer.

Just look at the world "was". It is the past tense of the word "be". Now, if you look at the word "be" it essentially means to live or exist. Got it? Now, let's explore the word "had" which is still a past tense but it is also a past participle of the word "have". If you aren't an English major you may need to look up what a participle is, but "have" means to possess or to own. You following me?

So when you look back 2014, did you have a year that "was" or a year that you "had"?

As I reflect on the year, I think of all of the successes that we had as a club:

  • We grew our membership base
  • We had dozens of people brave the elements and join us at our New Years Day Mitten Run
  • We created a new website
  • We had a great Annual Dinner with our speaker Jimmy Dean Freeman
  • We as a club were again voted top Running Club by the readers of Iowa Momentum Magazine
  • Sycamore 8 and Capital Pursuit were voted as runners up in their respective categories by the readers of Iowa Momentum Magazine
  • Loop the Lake was a great hit with our new post-race headquarters at Confluence Brewing
  • We installed 2 drinking fountains around the city at locations that aid runners, bikers and walkers with proper hydration
  • We handed out 4 scholarships to graduating seniors
  • We opened a new online store to order gear
  • Our Summer/Fall Saturday training runs have a new, easier to access home
  • We saw a lot of new faces at training runs
  • Our CS Turkeys led by Amber and Justin traveled the Mid-West representing our club at trail and ultra races
  • We welcomed a lot of new faces on the board
  • Capital Pursuit was recertified and named the RRCA 10 Mile Championship Race
  • Maffitt Lake saw some CRAZY fast times on the trails with great weather
  • Capital Pursuit celebrated it's 32nd year with a new course record for the females
  • We had some fun working the IMT Des Moines Marathon booth and water stop
  • 10 of our board members braved the weather to collect money during the Make-A-Wish Jolly Holiday Lights
  • And Sycamore 8 Trail Run capped off the year with the biggest field in the history of the race

That's a huge list and I am probably missing a lot of things. This isn't even including all of the time and funds that were donated to local non-profits like See Us Run Des Moines, Central Iowa Shelter, Boys & Girls Club of Central Iowa, Central Iowa Trail Association, etc. I would say as a club, you all should feel incredibly excited for all of this and what is to come for 2015.

Now, going back to the original question in regards to the Capital Striders as a club. Did we just exist this year or did we "have" a year? I can honestly tell you that we OWNED this year :)

Have a great time celebrating tonight and can't wait to see you at the 2015 Mitten Run!!!



Presidental Corner: Dreams

Dreams are a funny thing. They can be scary. They can be great. They can leave you questioning what you ate the night before that made you dream about Ronald McDonald skateboarding on the Great Wall of China singing "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls while drinking coffee out of a mason jar....don't ask....but the point is dreams are personal and can sometimes be amazing.

While driving through town yesterday I saw a license plate with the words "DREMB1G". Being an English major in college the first thing I thought was, "Ugh!! I hate when people spell things incorrectly". Yes, that's where my brain went first. Not the message of the plate, but the fact that it was spelled wrong. After I got over the limitations of getting a message across on a license plate in 7 characters I got to thinking about dreams.

We hear the phrase "Dream Big" all of the time, which I'm pretty sure is an Oprah phrase, but how much of our time is actually spent focusing on our dreams? Being that this is a running related blog I will focus solely on the aspect of dreaming as it relates to running. Running dreams can be vast or they can be small. Many people will dream of the day when they hear the roar of the crowd through the Wellesley Scream Tunnel as they make their way to the blue and gold finish line of the Boston Marathon. Many will dream of the day when they are able to check the box on their bucket list of running a Marathon or a Half Marathon. Many will dream of winning a race. Many will dream of the day when they run their first 5k, but what happens when that day comes? Do you stop dreaming?

I, like the person driving around with the incorrectly spelled license, like to dream big. A lot of people don't understand my dreams. My dream will never be to run the Boston Marathon. It doesn't appeal to me. My dream will never be to run a 18 minute 5k. I'm not fast. Not that I don't think that I am capable of running the Boston Marathon or an 18 minute 5k, my dreams are to help inspire others to not just "Dream Big" but "Dream Huge". With running, I primarily have two goals:

  1. To inspire people to be better than their current self
  2. Run a sub-24 hour Western States 100 miler

I have found that writing out my dreams and putting them in a place where they can be seen every day is one of the best ways for you to remind yourself why you lace up your shoes, layer up clothes on those winter mornings or get into the gym. Below is the scene at my desk. I have a picture of myself at over 300lbs and the elevation charts of three races that I want to run at some point in my life (along with a picture my daughter drew). I see these images every day. Every day when I sit down and look at these things, I remember why it is so important for me to talk about my own weight loss and why I get up at 4:00am to run. For now, these are my running dreams.

I am encouraging everyone today to document your dream. What is the thing that in your head you can envision yourself doing? Boston Marathon? Sub-3:00 marathon? Running your first half marathon? What is it? Don't be shy. Put it in to the comments below. No dream is too big or too small. Everyone has their dreams, what is yours?

Jot it down, then bookmark this blog. Set a reminder on your calendar to look at this in 30-60-90-120 days to see where you are on your road to your dream. Don't stop dreaming.....

Stay Strong, Run Long



Get To Know Your Board of Directors: Amber Crews


Get To Know Your Board of Directors: Amber Crews

Name: Amber Crews

Board Responsibilities: Secretary, Merchandise, Maffitt Race Director

When/Why did you start running? In 6th grade/I enjoyed the cross country trails and that I could beat most of the boys.

What race distances have you completed? 100 meters through 50 miles

Favorite race distance: Haven't decided between 50k and 50 miles since I've only completed a couple 50 milers.

Favorite Capital Striders race: Sycamore 8

Favorite Non-CS race: GOATz 50k

Dogs or Cats: None, my son is allergic, but we do have a Russian Tortoise

Favorite post race indulgence: Jamba Juice Orange Dream Machine or Outback Steak and potato

Pasta, rice or "other" carb source for carb loading: Qdoba Naked Steak Burrito or Mushroom Steak Stroganoff from Noodles and Company

One pre-race ritual: None really

Favorite piece of gear: Dirty Girl Gaiters to keep the debris out of my shoes during trail races

Craziest/funniest thing you've seen during a race or run: Kids dressed up as zombies that jumped out of the trees just past an aid station during a trail marathon.


Get To Know Your Board of Directors: Cody Edwards


Get To Know Your Board of Directors: Cody Edwards

Name: Cody Edwards

Board Responsibilities: Scholarship Committee Chair; Tour de Lights/Jolly Holiday Lights Coordinator

When/Why did you start running? Sophomore year of college to keep me active/healthy.

What race distances have you completed? 5K to 50k and sprint triathalon to half Ironman

Favorite race distance: Half Marathon

Favorite Capital Striders race:  Capital Pursuit

Favorite Non-CS race: Dam to Dam

Dogs or Cats: Dogs

Favorite post race indulgence: I generally do not feel like eating after a race but eventually a hamburger w/ egg on top.

Pasta, rice or "other" carb source for carb loading: Pizza

One pre-race ritual: Coffee and Cereal (not together, though)

Favorite piece of gear: Our vizsla (does that count?). 

Craziest/funniest thing you've seen during a race or run: Males running Living History Farms in thongs.   


Get To Know Your Board of Directors: Brad Dains


Get To Know Your Board of Directors: Brad Dains

Photo courtesy of Paul Nye and Panfoto

Photo courtesy of Paul Nye and Panfoto

Name: Brad Dains

Board Responsibilities: President/Sycamore 8 Race Director/Website/Email Blast/Communications/Joke Teller

When/Why did you start running? 2004 when I hit 320 lbs

What race distances have you completed? 5k to 93 miles during the 24 Hour Equalizer Endurance Run

Favorite race distance: 50 Mile

Favorite Capital Striders race: Loop The Lake, Maffitt, Capital Pursuit, & Sycamore 8...Seems objective, right? :)

Favorite Non-CS race: Dam to Dam or Equalizer Endurance Run

Dogs or Cats: I prefer dogs but have a cat

Favorite post race indulgence: Chicken wings and and ice cold micro brew

Pasta, rice or "other" carb source for carb loading: Pizza and a beer

One pre-race ritual: Laying out all of my gear and nutrition out 2-3 nights before race day then taking  picture. It's weird...I know

Favorite piece of gear: My UVU Racing Gillet, Nathan Endurance race vest and Suunto Ambit2 R

Craziest/funniest thing you've seen during a race or run: I tend to run out on country roads and have found lots of cool (and useless) stuff. I've also had bottles of tobacco spit, fireworks and insults thrown at me...So that's cool :)


Get To Know Your Board of Directors: Paxton Bennett


Get To Know Your Board of Directors: Paxton Bennett

Name: Paxton Bennett

Board Responsibilities: Loop the lake race director, Treasurer

When/Why did you start running?   7th grade through high school and started running again to train for 2006 Race for the cure again to run to support a friend

What race distances have you completed? 1 mile- 50 miles

Favorite race distance: all

Favorite Capital Striders race: Maffitt

Favorite Non-CS race: Grandma's Marathon

Dogs or Cats: dogs

Favorite post race indulgence: chocolate milk

Pasta, rice or "other" carb source for carb loading: pasta

One pre-race ritual: Gatorade and sleeping pills the night before

Favorite piece of gear: garmin with a heart rate monitor.

Craziest/funniest thing you've seen during a race or run: Buffaloes at Catalina Island Marathon 


Get to Know Your Board of Directors: Justin Nostrala


Get to Know Your Board of Directors: Justin Nostrala

Justin (R) with son and fellow Turkey Seth (L)

Justin (R) with son and fellow Turkey Seth (L)

Name:  Justin Nostrala

Board Responsibilities:  Scholarship Review, Race and Group Run Facilitation

When/Why did you start running?  It's what all the kids were doing at my grade school in the 70's.

What race distances have you completed? 5Ks through Marathons.

Favorite race distance:  7 miles on a dirt trail.

Favorite Capital Striders race:  Sycamore 8.

Favorite Non-CS race:  GOATZ Trail Run in Omaha.

Dogs or Cats:  Dogs, (have recently learned to appreciate cats though).

Favorite post race indulgence:  Cake.

Pasta, rice or "other" carb source for carb loading:  Pasta.

One pre-race ritual:  Nothing special --  just a good warm-up run.

Favorite piece of gear:  Gators.

Craziest/funniest thing you've seen during a race or run:  Boys running in g-strings at Living History Farms Race in freezing temperatures.


Get to Know Your Board of Directors: Tracy Daugherty


Get to Know Your Board of Directors: Tracy Daugherty


Name:  Tracy Daugherty

Board Responsibilities:  Memberships and other volunteer activities.

When/Why did you start running?  Sophmore year of high school cross country.  I only joined the team since two of my best friends were on the team.  Also, since my younger brother (who was a freshman also joined the team) and my Dad said if I joined that I could drive to school.  At the time, it was a huge motivator.  After high school, I did not do another race until 2011 (and from there I was hooked).

What race distances have you completed? 2-2.75 mile (for high school cross country races), 5K, 8K, 10K, 7 mile, 10 miles, Half-Marathon.  (My goal for the marathon is targeted for 2015).

Favorite race distance: Half-Marathon

Favorite Capital Striders race: Capital Pursuit

Favorite Non-CS race: Des Moines Marathon (probably since it is my favorite distance), but I enjoy various races and distances, so it was hard to pick.

Dogs or Cats: Dogs

Favorite post race indulgence: Ice Cream or Chocolate Milk

Pasta, rice or "other" carb source for carb loading:  Pasta

One pre-race ritual:  Always stick to the common bananna and bagel with peanut butter.  I am afraid to change it up!

Favorite piece of gear: Garmin, although I have an old version and it is time for an upgrade!

Craziest/funniest thing you've seen during a race or run: Probably the slip and slides at the Bix. . . or the beer bongs (that local residents along the course allow runners to indulge in).  It is fairly entertaining!


Get To Know Your Board of Directors: Mike McGinn


Get To Know Your Board of Directors: Mike McGinn

Name: Mike McGinn

Board Responsibilities: Jack of all trades

When/Why did you start running? I started running because I had heard the bix 7 was an awesome race and I wanted to try it.  Plus I was getting fat and felt gross.

What race distances have you completed? 1 mile to 50k.

Favorite race distance: half marathon

Favorite Capital Striders race: Sycamore 8

Favorite Non-CS race: Running- Dam to Dam; Non-running : Pigman Long course

Dogs or Cats: Dogs.

Favorite post race indulgence:  Usually a local specialty of wherever I'm racing.  If that's not available, diet coke and pizza hut breadsticks will do.

Pasta, rice or "other" carb source for carb loading: pasta.  Light tomato based sauce and a little bit of chicken.

One pre-race ritual:  That's private.

Favorite piece of gear:  Garmin 910xt

Craziest/funniest thing you've seen during a race or run: I once went on a trail run in waterworks and saw...***Editors Note: Mike's response was edited as this is a family friendly club :) ***


Get To Know Your Board of Directors: Brian Benjamin


Get To Know Your Board of Directors: Brian Benjamin

Name:  Brian Benjamin

Board Responsibilities:  Newsletters and as assigned

When/Why did you start running?  Sophomore year of college primarily to lose weight, but ended up running my first marathon at Drake 2 years later.

What race distances have you completed?  Pretty much all distances from 1 mile to marathon.

Favorite race distance:  Marathon.

Favorite Capital Striders race:  Capital Pursuit!

Favorite Non-CS race:  If I am limited to races I have run, I would say Twin Cities Marathon.  However, since I serve on the race committee for the IMT Des Moines Marathon, I would have to say it is my favorite race that I haven't run.

Dogs or Cats: Neither, but my wife has a few cats.

Favorite post race indulgence: Chocolate milk.

Pasta, rice or "other" carb source for carb loading: Cheeseburger and ice cream shake.

One pre-race ritual:  Gargle with mouthwash.

Favorite piece of gear:  My old reliable Timex Ironman watch.

Craziest/funniest thing you've seen during a race or run:  I ran with a balloon hat the entire distance of my last marathon - does that count?



Summer/Fall Training Runs Start This Weekend!!!

It's that time of year again! Time not just to run, but to get running with a community -- the Capital Striders community. To go on runs with the water provided and the company of fellow runners to keep you going, swap stories, and share advice. So don't wait another day - start this Saturday! We'll have three- and six-mile runs with water stops. All abilities are encouraged to come out: speed demons looking for a challenge and the run/walkers out for their first running season. 

We leave at 7:00 each Saturday morning at the fountain on the NE corner of Waterworks park off of Fleur. Please note the new location! At the north entrance to Gray's Lake on Fleur, turn west into Waterworks park instead of Gray's Lake. We'll be just inside the entrance, to the right. Try to arrive a little early to sign a waiver for the season and get your parking. We'll finish off the runs this week with a burrito breakfast, so stay for a treat! See you there!

Here is a map to help you find the start.

Look for the big fountain on the West side of Fleur Dr.


Presidential Corner: Expectations


Presidential Corner: Expectations

A couple of days have passed since the 2014 Dam To Dam. Normally I wouldn't post about a race in particular but the Striders and our members are fully invested in this race that just celebrated it's 35th installment. It is a Central Iowa staple that we are very proud to be a part of.

Personally, I've run the Dam to Dam 9 times (either the 5k or the 20k). It is one of my favorite races every year. I've run in a lot of races, but there are very few races that I can stand at the start line and look 13 miles away and see the finish line. It is amazing.

Although it is an early season race, this is some people's 'A' race every year. We run our 'B' & 'C' in preparation and to assess our fitness level. We hydrate and carbo-load the night before with the expectation of a PR. We got on the bus to head out to the Dam with the expectation of running comfortable and fast...but like with life, sometimes things just fall apart.

I posted on our clubs Facebook page on Saturday morning that I wasn't running this year as my family is expecting a new member any day. I put on the post that the weather appeared that it was going to be nice day to run fast.

Shortly after 11:00 I started getting that little red indicator on my FB page that people were liking or commenting on my post. Not until then did I realize how wrong I was:

Names and pics have been removed

Names and pics have been removed

The comments kept coming throughout the day(s) following the race. I was getting PM's and emails from everyone and I just got sad. Sad for the people that have put in so much effort to train for THIS race. This was the race that they were going to show friends and family why they were putting in long runs on the weekends. I got sad because I knew exactly what people were going through.

In 2007, I was going to be running my very first and what I thought was going to be my only marathon in Chicago. By the time the race came around I had been running for about 3 years. I took my time in preparing for the race. I read. I became a student of the sport. I did everything I could to prepare mentally and physically for this race. I've obviously never run a marathon before so I didn't know what to expect, but I expected to run fast.

In the days leading up to the 2007 Chicago Marathon the weather kept saying, HOT HOT HOT! We were warned before the race to hydrate and to slow down. I heeded the advice and drank well the night before. I lined up in my corral with the expectation of a sub-4 marathon. I knew I was capable of it. I won't go into all of the details as many of you have heard about this race but I was forced to "stop" at mile 21 and told to walk back to the finish line while cutting through the streets of Chicago. My expectations were shot. I was bummed. People kept saying "Oh, it's OK" but it wasn't. I didn't want to hear that "It was OK". I wanted to be able to carry around my medal and tell people that I ran a marathon. I threw myself a pity party for days, but it took someone who is a lot wiser than me (my wife) to make me realize I did what I could on the day and that I lived another day to do it again. That changed my outlook a lot on this sport.

Running is a sport and just like all sports things rarely happen the way they should (just ask Cubs fans :) ). Michael Jordan is arguably the best basketball player to have ever stepped foot on a court. Many of you have heard/seen this quote, but I think it's fitting in this instance:

I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

Michael Jordan

Since that day in in 2007, I've run marathons (both racing and as training) and I've run 5 ultras. I've run great races and I've DNF'd. I go into each race with the expectation of running my best race, but I do what I can on the day.

Many of you were going into the 2014 Dam To Dam expecting to run the race of lifetime. You were expecting to run a PR. You weren't expecting to end up in a medical tent. You weren't expecting to run 20, 30, 60 minutes slower than you did. Rest assured though that you will live to run this event and more events again. You set an expectation for yourself and it didn't work out. Sulk for a few days and just remind yourself that on May 31, 2014, you gave the race what you could. DNF doesn't mean "Did Not Finish". It means "Did Nothing Fatal". Get back out there and keep training. Keep setting goals. Keep taking the shots and one of these days that ball will fall threw the net. You can do it, you just have to keep believing in yourself.

Stay Strong, Run Long




Presidential Corner: Race Shirts

Many of you have done a lot of races. Many of you have gotten a lot of t-shirts. Many of those shirts are sitting in your closet or dresser and haven't been touched or worn for months or years. Many of us have heard the following from our spouses or significant others, "Why don't you get rid of some of these race shirts? You haven't worn this in a very long time."

Many times we will go into our closet or dresser, open up the drawer and think, "Yeah, maybe I should get rid of some of these, but this one...". Have you ever said that or some version of that statement?

Many times it is followed up with, "...this was the race that I qualified for Boston. I can't get rid of this one" or "...this was the race that ran my 10k PR. I can't get rid of this one." Then we end up in the same position we were when we started...many times with a slightly cleaner pile of shirts. These shirts take us to a different place in time. A place where we had "One of those days!!!" or a time when we had " was just one of those days". They are shirts that have stories. Stories of your bests and your firsts.

The Capital Striders have the incredible honor of supporting many local charities from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Boys & Girls Club of Central Iowa, & local track clubs. There is one though where the next time you hear "Why don't you get rid of some of those race shirts?" you can take that shirt and pass on the story and bless some children in Central Iowa. You can help them on their list of "bests" and "firsts".

"See - Us Run Des Moines  is a program to help teens who face adversity in their lives learn that they are capable, resourceful and resilient to respond to life challenges by providing them the opportunity to experience first - hand the benefits of goal - setting, character development, adult mentoring and improved health through committing to,  training for, and completing the Des Moines Marathon." - See Us Run Des Moines

While SRDM is always looking for running mentors, the kids tend to be not as fortunate in having the right gear and they are looking for those old race shirts. If you have a closet full of technical material shirts or just some tech shirts that you would like to go to a great organization that is helping kids learn how to set goals and improve their health, please email or email Cindy at Iowa Kidstrong ( to find out where you can drop off. It's that time of the year to help these kids get "geared up"

Stay Strong, Run Long,



Member Spotlight: Joyce Johnson


Member Spotlight: Joyce Johnson

As runners we are always searching for our inspiration and reason to get up in the morning. During the Hy-Vee Road Race Expo this year, I had the pleasure of talking to a woman who has been a great volunteer at races and very active on our Facebook page. Her name is Joyce Johnson. I've had conversations with Joyce in the past but most have been very "surfacey". In my defense, most have been via FB or while she was volunteering at Sycamore 8 when my brain doesn't quite work. During our conversation at the expo, Joyce told me her story and I was blown away. We've all heard the excuses, "I'm too old to run", "You're going to hurt your knees", "I have (insert your own) problem", etc. Joyce is the true embodiment of what the mission of the Capital Striders is. We as a club are a truly diverse group. No matter how fast or slow, we are all RUNNERS. We are a community that continually learn from each other and I am very happy to call Joyce a STRIDER. Here is her story - Brad

My name is Joyce Johnson, I joined Capital Striders in April, 2013 and I’m not a ‘runner’

I was always a moderately active person, but never tried running type sports (or sports of any kind, really). I enjoyed walking and hiking…sometimes.

After gaining approximately 100 pounds over the course of 10 years after a surgical procedure and having numerous other health issues, I decided to do something about it and in August, 2012, joined a gym and hired a personal trainer, my goal being to get through a winter without falling and breaking something again.

By this point in my life, I was physically worn out.

I was:

  • 59 years old
  • 100 pounds overweight
  • Have had back surgery for a fragmented lumbar disc
  • Have had seven knee surgeries between both knees (6 scopes and one ACL repair)
  • Have osteoarthritis in my knees and hips
  • Have a broken right big toe that did not heal properly and does not bend
  • Have degenerative disc disease in my cervical spine that causes nerve compression (my arms fall asleep for days at a time)

With my trainer, we worked on building core strength and stability and I attended water exercise classes to get my cardio and keep everything relaxed and moving.  All he asked was that I come to session ready to go and that meant warmed up – so I started walking two-to-three laps on the track first.

Didn’t feel too bad, so on non-training days, I started walking on the bike path near my home…first 15 minutes, then gradually increasing, going 1 square of pavement further, then trying to get to that mark faster.

I started looking forward to it and started researching online about walking, but I was always cautious because of the doctors warning:   You’re too young for a knee replacement, so try to not fall down!   Take it easy!

I was feeling pretty good on those walks, so found myself out longer each day and going farther. In  October, 2012, I did the Kommen 5K – and did not die!

I was afraid of losing momentum, because I was feeling pretty good, but winter was coming.   A friend told me about virtual races, and I started signing up for them – and found myself out walking – every day – in the cold and snow.   Always in the back of my mind was my doctor’s warning – running will put stress on your neck and knees, keep your feet on the ground!

As Spring approached, I was feeling pretty confident and set my sights on the HyVee Road race 10K.   That was going to be a real stretch for me, but with my trainer’s encouragement and some changes in my program, I was out there and succeeded, finishing that 10K in 1:27:39 (14:09 pace) and 1305/1325.   I told myself to step it up and committed to running after every water station until I couldn’t run anymore!  

I was hooked and ready to see just how far I could go.  The next day, I signed up for Capital Striders and joined the beginners group.  I still wasn’t convinced that running was something I could do

 It was also my “year of firsts” to celebrate turning 60!

A co-worker convinced me to sign up for Dam-to-Dam 20K.   Finished over the course limit (I walked all of it), but time was 3:06:42

A friend I only knew online invited me to sign up for my first half marathon, so I went to Denver to do the Slacker Half Marathon in Georgetown with her.  Who does their first ever half marathon in the mountains?   Crazy!   I didn’t run very much, had trouble with my breathing and ended up in the med tent after the finish, but I did it!   Finished in 3:22:26 (pace 15:28)

My trainer challenged me to try a marathon so I signed up for IMT Des Moines Marathon.  

That was a real test!    By this time, my doctor had changed his tune, was seeing my weight dropping, my blood pressure dropping, and I was really happy with my goals.    He told me to keep going and he wasn’t going to discourage me.   I went to see him once with a knee issue and he said normally he’d tell someone my age to prop it up and spend some time channel surfing, but in my case, he’d help me get through the discomfort to keep going!   He’s become one of my biggest cheerleaders!

Training for that Marathon was tough, but when that day came, I started out at a strong walk.   I knew the course limit was 7 hours and that was my goal.     I know that until I reached mile 20, I was holding on to my 15 minute/mile pace.   By mile 22, I wanted to quit.   My body was puffy, my fingers wouldn’t hold my water bottle, my hip hurt, my head hurt, but the course support was awesome, and my family and my personal trainer met me at the finish line.      7:00:32   (I blame the third unplanned porta-potty stop).

The next week, I was out on the roads again, walking that Komen 5K that a year earlier had started this adventure.

I finished that year with (actual entry fees paid):

17           5k

1              4 mile

3              10k

1              15k

1              20k

1              half

1              full

I still want to incorporate running and get faster.

I joke around that I’m the one at the back of the pack.

I’m totally okay with that – someone has to be last – and my only competition is me!

As long as you don’t mind holding the aid stations open a little longer, and waiting by the finish clock, I’ll be crossing that line…somewhere around a 15 minute mile!

Save a chocolate milk for me!


1 Comment

Presidential Corner: Time

Many of you know that I am what is called an "Ultra Runner". I love the thrill of long distance races. I put the term "ultra runner" in quotes primarily because I will be the first to admit that not everything that I do when I am out for a run is "running". I do a fair amount of walking in races and in training which, contrary to road races, is strongly encouraged. One of things that people always ask me when I say that I am training for 50-100 mile races is "where do you find the time?" Sometimes I wonder myself where I find the time to be a husband, a father, an employee, a coach, a member of a board, a friend and still be able to run 75-80 miles per week while doing strength training and some really funny yoga. And honestly, I'm not real sure. 

I do a fair amount of my runs VERY early in the morning or VERY late at night. I will wake up at 3:30am and try to get 12-13 miles in before my kids wake up for school and/or get out the door around 8:00pm for 10-15 miles. Most days this is a struggle. I am not a fast runner. I am no stellar athlete. Some days it takes 2 cups of coffee in the morning.

The one thing that pushes me to put on those shoes though when I just want to lay down and take a nap is knowing that running is my escape. It's my time to be alone in my head. It's what has helped me to lose weight. It helps me to manage the stress of my job. It helps me to be a better husband and dad. It's what helps to burn off the calories that I consume with my addiction to Gold Fish crackers. It helps me connect with people. It helps me to see parts of the city or country that I may have never seen before. It is my way of connecting with my creator. It helps me connect with the world on a level that I can't get from sitting behind a keyboard or in front of a TV.

Where do I find the time? Cutting out TV. Cutting out the web. Cutting out the time killers, but never cutting out family time. Where do I find the time? I don't know, but I make time.

What can you cut out this week to make time?

Stay Strong, Run Long


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Presidential Corner: What being a Strider has meant to me

To everyone who doesn't know me, I am Brad Dains and I am the new President of the Capital Striders. To give you a little background on me, I used to be FAT! Don't worry. I've come to terms with it. I had a terrible food addiction. Unfortunately, this isn't a joke. I would take every opportunity to take on food challenges and would stuff my face with whatever I could. I was never good at anything related to sports. I always went out, but never played. When I got to college I put on well over 100lbs in 5 short years. I found running by a happy accident. I went to the fair, ate my weight in food and felt completely guilty about it and needed a change. Running was a good place to start. I won't go into the whole after story but am more than happy to share with you whenever you would like to talk about it. My post tonight is not about my weight loss but about what running and specifically the Capital Striders has meant to me.

When I was fat, running was hard. It was hard to get out everyday. It was hard to walk into a running store and look at all of the fit people around buying short shorts and tank tops. It was hard to enter my first race because I didn't know what people would think about the fat guy running. Everything about running was hard but one day my mind seemed to be clear, my knees didn't hurt so much and I bought a smaller pair of pants. Wow!! Maybe this wasn't as hard as I thought it was. 

Now, I'm not going to tell you that running is easy. It's not. There are days where I just don't want to do it. My brain is run down, my legs feel heavy and my muscles are sore. But the thing I love about running and the Striders is the sense of community. On Saturday mornings, when the alarm wakes me up at 6:00, it's 20 degrees out and I know that I've got to go run 20 miles there is just something about running and talking with people that lifts my spirits.

I think a lot of times people join the Striders for the discounts or perks, but look around you on any Saturday morning at our long runs, or Mondays with the Run with the Animals crew, Wednesday with Roy at the Speed workout nights or Tuesdays and Sundays when the Turkeys run through the woods. The Striders aren't about the discounts (even though they are a plus) it's about how running draws people closer than they ever thought was possible. I have gained some incredible friendships in my few short years as a member in the club and Board member, but one of the main things I learned is that you don't have to be a speedster or race winner to be a part of the community. You just have to be the community.

The Striders are a club of all sorts. Some of us are race winners, some of us are speedsters, but  some of us are mid-packers and back of the packers. We are a club of learners and sharers. We can all learn from others successes and failures. We are an amazing club filled with racers and volunteers. I would put our club up against others all over the country and say truthfully that we are the best club out there. 

I love this club and would love to chat with you when we see each other at training runs, races or meetings. Please stop by and say hello. Let's all learn together.

Stay Strong, Run Long