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President Chronology

The GFRC Chronicles - History of Our Club

The Greater Framingham Track Club was formed in 1979 by a small group of local runners. The name was changed to "Running Club" in 1998.  Those were much simpler times. So simple that no written record of nearly the first year of club meetings still exists.  A newspaper article in the "South Middesex News" announced the formation of the club in 1979.  But thatís about it in terms of a print presence for the club during the first year.  Somehow, however, word about the club spread to the point that membership totaled 32 on June 14, 1980.  Several newsletters from earlier in the spring of 1980 still exist, and we learn that a significant percentage of the club membership participated in such early spring races as the Garden City Marathon (Newton) and the New Bedford Half Marathon.  Yes those were simpler times.  When the club was born, Jimmy Carter was president, with lust only in his heart, not an intern in the closet.  Jim Rice was a power hitting left fielder and Yaz played first.  Larry Bird was a rookie, Bruce Jenner was still a hero, Bill Rodgers was a perennial marathon champion and we hadnít yet boycotted the Moscow Olympics.  The club met in the Marian High School gymnasium.  The treasury boasted a grand total of $30.75.  Almost half of the club treasury was spent on registration in the New England Athletics Congress, the successor of the AAU and the predecessor of USAT&F.  Gerry Nearman was president, Peter Selig held the vice presidentís position, Bill Craig was the secretary and Jim Cooney the treasurer.

It took about one year, but the wisdom of our founding fathers cannot be doubted.  For one of their first official acts was to see that the club was incorporated with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  It may seem extraneous to incorporate a running club, but there are several good reasons, not the least of which is, as the newsletter states, "The incorporation releases individual members from liability when we sponsor a race."  The issue of the clubís incorporation, and race liability arose in the future years, and all club members should be grateful for the wisdom and foresight of these founding members.

Some traditions die hard, and the two GFTC traditions that have endured virtually from the creation of this organization are the Saturday morning runs and the monthly meetings.  The same early spring newsletter noted above reports, "We completed the winter season without missing a single Saturday fun run" with a dozen members running from the Natick Labs on one cold Saturday morning.  With regard to club meetings, "We originally planned to have general meetings on the first Saturday of the month but must change it to the second Saturday of the month due to the timing of the mailing of the newsletter."  While we may not have always stuck to the "Second Saturday Meeting Rule," and some of the Saturday runs have been run solo, the tradition endures.  From the tidbit column of early 1980, we learn that Roger Kelleher qualified for Boston in the over-50 category, back then he probably had to run a 3:05.  The clubís first president Drew Doyle had a new job, but soon expected to be back running soon.  Teenager Jim Byrnes was beginning to burn up the track and Bob Smith was nursing another spring injury, yes the same Bob Smith who runs everyone into the ground nineteen years later.

Another club activity that found its roots in those early years was the Summer Track Series.  Does this plea sound familiar: "Right now we need record keepers, timers, starters and participants for the weekly Wednesday evening track meets at Bowditch Field. There is a job for everyone, regardless of age or experience and it is proving to be a lot of fun."  The nature of the Wednesday track series has changed somewhat from the early days.  Of greatest significance has been the growth in participation.  For many of those early years, rarely more than 50 or 60 competitors would show up.  Now, weekly crowds of 150 participants or more is common.  Many GFTC members also participated, especially in the longer distance races, rather than simply officiated.  And the featured events included a two-mile run, long jump and softball throw.  Of course, there were no relay races whose introduction perhaps signaled a crucial change in the focus of the Wednesday track meets.  The relay events cater to a much younger, yet extremely enthusiastic crowd of participants.  And over the years, the focus of the meets has shifted from adult, performance-oriented programs to the promotion of the participation of the youth of the Framingham area in these low-key meets.  Taking inflation into account, the track meets are still a great deal.  In 1980, with Gerry Nearmanís son Steve in charge, it cost 25 cents per event to participate, or 50 cents for two or more events.  Twenty years later, weíre only a dollar for all the events that you want to run.

As you can see, there is a long history of the Greater Framingham Running Club.