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The Good Old Days - By Michael Wade

Published Jan 24, 2014

This is the acceptance speech I would have delivered at our Annual Awards Dinner if I had any clue at all that I was being inducted into the Gate City Strider Hall of Fame ...

When I joined the Gate City Striders in 2003, oftentimes I would overhear veteran club members talk about the “Good Old Days”. They would wax poetic about the how great the club was back in the late eighties and early nineties - describing that era as Gate City’s “Golden Age”. Being new, and not knowing anything about the club’s history, I would listen, nod politely then continue on doing whatever it was I was doing.

Ten years have passed since then, and as I look around at the state of our club, I see that a lot of things have changed. Under the guidance of Skip, Michelle and now Ollie, our club membership has nearly doubled along with attendance at our annual awards dinner AND at outdoor track. When once we were running laps on a rolling asphalt oval, now we’re enjoying a state-of-the art outdoor (and indoor) facility for our speed workouts.

Our GCS Racing Team has never been more active, or successful. Yes, we’ve lost some ground to Greater Derry in the NHGP, but that’s more a factor of their successes than our failures. We’re sending runners to NEGP races in larger numbers than ever before. And we’ve established ourselves as the Merrimack Valley’s top team by virtue of our six straight Mill Cities Relay Championships.

Fitness University and Freeze Your Buns have both grown in leaps and bounds thanks to the tireless work of Trevor and Leeann Ward. Bob Thompson has raised Novemberfest from the dead and turned it into a (gulp) respectable and profitable fundraiser for the Nashua Children’s Home. And Michelle Poublon, along with support from PAL, has helped grow our youth program into a perennial national powerhouse.

We’ve started lots of new and successful GCS programs such as: the Gate City Strider scholarship, Couch to 5k, the Henri Renauld awards, indoor track, Summer Trail Series, NEGP entry fee reimbursement and the GCS Hall of Fame. And, we’ve created all sorts of new social events like: Guest Speaker night at club meetings, ice cream & pizza nights at track, health fair night, first communion and Saturday morning long runs in Hollis.

Yes, perhaps our biggest club event, Applefest has run its course, but a talented team of Striders is already planning something bigger and better to take its place. Bottom line, we’re moving forward and the future of our club is very bright. And, I don’t need the hollow approval from members of a Mass-centric running organization to tell me who the “club of the year” is. I’ve known that fact for quite some time now.

So, here’s the not-so-little secret that I’m going to share with all of you new and old Striders alike. Because of the great work that a lot of great people have done over the last ten years for our club, THIS is Gate City’s “Golden Age”. THESE are the “Good Old Days”. And, it’s up to each and every one of YOU to make sure they continue!

I'd like to end with a quote from one of my favorite poets, Mr. Walt Whitman -

"What good amid these, O me, O life? Answer... That you are here—that life exists and identity, That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse."

The Gate City Strider Running Club is in the middle of something pretty powerful here.  What will your contribution to it's success be?  Don't know yet?  That's OK. Neither do I.  Let's find out together.  Shall we?

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