As I was driving home from the always fun Central Oregon Running Klub Christmas party, I started thinking a bit about the different running clubs/teams/organizations I belong to. I am currently a proud member of 4 teams. They all are different, cool, and quirky in their own way. In no particular order:
Central Oregon Running Klub, CORK. This is my regional, official USATF klub (we spell klub with a "k" because CORC looks stupid). It's a good size group of about 120 members, with probably half fairly actively involved. There are the old-timer studs such as Roger Daniels and Lew Hollander, fast masters ladies like Jeanne Groesz, easy-going guys like Doug Williams, the friendliest people on Earth in Dan and Kathy Harshburger, rd's Curt Ringstad, Amy Clark, and Charlene Levesque, and the list goes on. We meet Saturday mornings for a weekly long run, usually on trails, followed by a great breakfast at the Westside Cafe and Bakery. We organize races both big and small, have hot chocolate runs in the winter, support local running youth with scholarships, try to meet weekly for hill repeats and track fun, and have a few parties throughout the year for fun. It's a good group of people. I have proudly been a CORKster since 2002.
Montrail. This is my ultrarunning team. Montrail was the first shoe company to really invest in ultrarunning in general, and in ultrarunners specifically. Montrail has sponsored many of the greats that we all know by a single name: Horton, Kirk, Dave, Kerby, Scott, William, Brian, Courtney, Clark, Karl, Krissy, Steph, Francesca, Darcy, Betsy, Dink, AJW, Jorge, Paul, Clifton, Luis, Hal, Ian, Monica, Annette, Bethany, Janice, Leigh, Roch, Brandon, and the list goes on and on. For many years, one of the things that set Team Montrail apart from the other teams was that we were so large - it was really cool! The team size has definitely fluctuated a lot the past few years. The 2007 season saw its highest number ever, with 80-something. Yowzers - that's a lot of people to sponsor. That was cool, too. I enjoyed traveling to different races across the country, big and small, and always seeing at least one other Montrailian out there. For 2008, marketing decisions chose to sponsor 15-20 athletes, mostly ultrarunners, with some adventure racers and mountaineers also thrown in to the mix. From a selfish, teammate point of view, I didn't much like this. From a realistic marketing perspective, it completely makes sense. I dare say that Montrail has invested more in ultrarunning than all other companies combined. Size-wise, we are now much more in line with the average size of the other teams out there. Whether or not that's a good thing will definitely be tested in the coming years. I have proudly been a Montrailian since 2002.
Sisters Little Ultra Team, SLUT. This is my ultra team in the town where I live. We are little and we are proud. Although I was the one who came up with the acronym, Fatboy eagerly accepted it and quickly joined the team. Since I was the first ultrarunner in Sisters, Fatboy says I'm Head SLUT. Cool. He's SLUT #2. We haven't had much turn-over on this team. We started with 4 - Fatboy, CB, Jon, and me. Jon moved out of Sisters a couple years ago, so had to step down from the team. We have 2 rules: you have to live in Sisters, and you have to be an ultrarunner. However, as of the Sisters Poker Run in October, we were able to induct two new SLUTs. We currently have 5 - Fatboy, CB, Natalie, Doug, and me. I have proudly been a SLUT since 2003.
Marathon Maniacs. This is my team I turn to when, after running Quadzilla, I want to feel normal. This is pretty much an internet-based club with very strong Puget Sound ties. We have members all across the US, and even some international maniacs amongst us. It's a very fun club. We wear really cool bright yellow shirts (well, some people wear boring black or the new red, but yellow is where it all started) with the MM logo on our chests and the infamous "Maniac with cat on head" on our backs. There are 9 levels of Maniacism, starting with the single star Bronze, and going up to the 10-star Titanium (I really can count - there isn't a 9-star level). Basically, we run lots of marathons and/or ultramarathons. It's fun. It's social. It's an excuse to get together with friends to use a race as a nice long training run. It's competitive; I currently have 15 ultra finishes this year, and that puts me tied for 9th. Gilles and Pigtails are tied at 29 (and none of those numbers includes marathons). Some run 93 marathons in a single year. Others run 51 marathons in 50 states (plus DC) in 50 days. It's supportive. As a result of being a Maniac, I have made a goal to run 100 ultras by my 35th birthday. I'm currently at 84 and I have until July 31, 2008 to do it. I only get positive encouragement from Maniacs when I state this goal. It's a big club. I joined a little over 3 years ago as Maniac #92. Currently, there are 745 members (and we're growing everyday). I have proudly been a Marathon Maniac since 2004.
So those are my 4 teams. I proudly wear shirts from each team at different races, depending on the race, distance, location, etc. Occasionally at races, I wear shirts from other organizations that I support and who support me, such as Sisters High School Cross Country, FootZone, and Finger Lakes Running Company, and I'm very excited to start wearing the colors for Fleet Feet Bend soon. But those 4 teams above are my teams now. I look forward to being a member of each of those teams for many years to come.