I am honored and humbled to be asked by the Running Club President John Lin to write a blog for the website. He asked that I share with the current members how the club originally started and some of the history of this outstanding organization.
I founded the OSU Running Club in the spring of 2002, after learning at my freshman orientation that there wasn’t a running club on campus. I was amazed there wasn’t a student organization already created for those that enjoyed running, but did not want to pursue competitive running at Ohio State. I approached the Ohio Union and asked them how to start an organization. They said anyone could start a club and they even gave me $500 to market the organization. I chose the simple name of OSU Running Club because everyone would know what we did. We met to run! At the end of my freshman year, we had 15 active members. We met at the William Oxley Thompson statue 3 to 4 days a week for afternoon runs.
My right hand man, and also fellow co-founder of the club, was classmate Phil Spangler. I met Phil in the cafeteria of Morrill Tower. Phil was an accomplished runner and we knew with us working together we could take this club to great heights. Other early officers of the Running Club included Nadine Gerhardstein, our Secretary, and Dan Luk as Webmaster. Weekly email communications, much like you all receive now, and a consistently updated website were keys to our early success. Once the club expanded and club dues started to come in, we added the position of a Treasurer, which was held by Nathan Kamps. Surrounding ourselves with the best people was a major reason the club did so well in those early years.
The club really started to take form when we introduced social events such as quarterly spaghetti dinners. Here are a few pictures from the winter of 2003 Club spaghetti dinner, hosted at my fraternity house Sigma Phi Epsilon.
At the Student Organization Fair in the Fall of 2003, the club had its 1st exhibition booth and we were able to sign up over a hundred freshmen that afternoon. Our first run of the year that particular season had over fifty people show up! We were only used to having around ten to fifteen runners most times. This created a unique problem for us, being that all ability levels were welcome. To solve this, we made 2 to 3 groups per run based on skill level. Each group was led by one of the club officers. When fifty or more students are running together around campus, it quickly draws a lot of attention! It wasn’t long before we became known as the “the group that runs for fun!” Phil and I were able to secure a sponsorship for club t-shirts from the local running shoe store, Front Runner. In effect, we had students wearing our shirts and spreading our message all around campus.
At the conclusion of my senior year, spring of 2005, we had over one hundred active members in the club. I look back today and am forever thankful to The Ohio State University for giving me the opportunity to start and lead a student organization. The skills I learned leading that group of students are invaluable and useful in my personal and professional life today. The Running Club at OSU is my legacy to The Ohio State University and I’m so proud that this student organization has continued to be a thriving force on campus.
Founder, OSU Running Club