PGRC feedback? Post here

Hi everyone,

Please feel free to offer your suggestions here on ways we can improve the club. I request that a) you keep it civil and b) remember that we are all runners and, I would hope, friends (or soon-to-be friends). Please play nice.

Thanks, in advance, for your thoughts.


23 Responses

  1. I, for one, would also like to see more of a co-ed environment for the running club. Now, while it’s nice to be surrounded by such lovely ladies, it would be nice to add some testosterone to the mix,

    While I’m not on any boards, I would be more than happy to volunteer for any outreach committees that may form based on this discussion.


  2. While I understand the guys position, I am looking forward to training with just the girls. I think this setting will allow us as a unit to focus on, “RUNNING.”

    Having said that, those who are looking for that co-ed running club, you’ll have your chance to run together during the Running Start Program that begins a couple of weeks later. Be patient!

    P.S. – Board members, give the guys their own club and leave ours in tact. Thank you.

    • I think the guys’ position is that they don’t want to be excluded on the basis of gender – -and your comment really doesn’t suggest that you understand that feeling at all. Perhaps you just accidentally used the wrong word, but your closing “P.S.” advised the board to give the guys their own CLUB, not just beginning running program. Whether you meant it literally or not, this mentality of not being able to “focus” unless we’re with out own kind is hugely destructive to groups that are made of many different kinds of people.

      Try this experiment honestly and see where it leads you. Imagine that the local running club is predominately male. Then imagine that you are banned from the club’s beginning running program because you are a woman. If you protest, then you are told that there is a second stage program geared towards people who have finished the first program. If you can get a spot, you can join that and run with the men who have already had an extra two months of training and have already gotten to know each other. You’re told to: “be patient!”

      Would you join a club like that?

      Would you think that a man’s feeling that he can’t focus when “girls” are around was a good enough reason to exclude you?

      Would you join the board so that you could get rid of the club’s sexism, or would you just go to another club where you could focus on your running instead of the people who don’t want you there?

      There have been justifiable exclusions when the purpose was to encourage a minority to join, with the hope of eventually integrating the entire group. This policy is just the opposite. It excludes the minority because some members of the majority simply don’t want them around.

      Jackie, think about whether you are treating other people the way that you would want them to treat you.

      Kim, you might want to remind the board of your own “play nice!” advice. This policy is anything but.

      • Vickie, please bear with us. We did not intend for this to be a divisive issue in any way, shape or form. It was simply another option for the club. We’re not the first group to form a women’s program and we won’t be the last. And it is certainly not “policy” — if anything, let’s please call this an experiment. And if that’s the case, so far, I’m thinking this is a big, fat FAIL.

        Also, we are working on creating a club-wide survey so we can see the opinions of those who aren’t up to responding publicly, for whatever reason.

        And can we please offer some solutions here? I’m hearing a lot of gripes — which at this point have been hashed to death. Other than nixing the women’s program, which honestly doesn’t seem like an option at this point — we have 40 participants signed up, what can we do? Let’s brainstorm, please.

  3. I vote to turn the beginning running session into a coed option, as long as the women who have already signed up for it do not object.

  4. I think I may be the culprit to starting this discussion so I apologize for the ruckus my original post caused.
    Just a couple of insights:

    1. To keep the conversation constructive, guys, we need refrain from such phrases as “lovely ladies” in our posting. While those things seem harmless, they may be taken from the women in the club that our intent is not just about running.

    2. I wonder if the distinction between men vs women is the wrong one. It could perhaps be more an issue of experience and comfort level running with people that may be at the same training point. Maybe as the conversation progresses we can think about whether the gender issue is the primary challenge the group is facing. The gender issue may play out in an assumption that the men in the group may be further along than the women, which as a newbie, I wouldn’t know if this is true or not.

    3. This is my first running club and I’ve only been running for about a year now, I would think though that the goal of ensuring that the focus of the group stays on running is shared by most. I don’t think though that this is something that board policy can mandate in any way despite how hard they try. I think it will be up to each person to participate with that frame of mind. I think what the board can do is just reaffirm the goal of the group and within reason, offer activities broad enough to encompass as much of the membership as possible. What that means for me is that if the group is 70-90% women, I’m comfortable with the fact that there may be some gender specific activities. If I want that to change, then I need to recruit more guys. And if it does happen I would assume that the activities would change to reflect the change in the group membership.

    Just my two cents.

  5. Jackie:
    I’m glad that you spoke up. I’d like to hear straight from someone with the sentiment — rather than me and other people making guesses — why you feel that the presence of men prevents you from focusing on RUNNING? I’d have thought that if you’re working hard, who’s around you gets to be irrelevant, but that’s me and you’re not me. Whatever the reasons are, maybe there are solutions that could be figured out that wouldn’t have the effect of making the men feel unwelcome. It’s really the solutions part I’m interested in.

    The followup question being, what happens after the end of the women-only beginner program? Are you expecting that you’ll be able to focus on running even with men around once you’ve finished the program? Or would you be preferring to have women-only runs then too?

    If there’s anything offensive there, I do apologize. I’m just baffled. Probably an offshoot of growing up with 9 women across 4 generations in the house, and being the only male.

    Well, I always did do co-ed groups in my own pick-up runs, and expect to continue to do so. But when I start running regularly again, you’d be welcome to join up with me at my 9:00 to 9:30 per mile pace (along with the women who are that pace and come out). I’ll post to the email list when I start again.

  6. sorry to follow up myself, but for Jackie and any who might feel like she does — but not want to post the reasons publicly — let me suggest that you email your thoughts to the women on the board, which is almost the entire board:
    President: Kim Ossi
    Vice President: Cassandra Logan
    Secretary: Elaine Bond
    Membership: Genea Watson
    Training Coordinator: Valerie Grasso
    Youth Coordinator: Me’Lissa Garrison
    (Don’t know Genea myself, maybe a male, but the rest are women.)

  7. First I have been a member for less than a year and have just begun to truly participate in club activities and plan to be much more active and involved.

    I wanted to ask a question that may have already been addressed but I wanted to know what is required or involved in creating a running program, meaning how many coaches, volunteers,etc are needed?

    I was wondering if we could create a second beginning program, either one for men or one for the women currently signed up that object to doing the program with men? Based upon the comments to date it would seem those categories would be smaller than the 40 currently signed up and might need less resources but again I don’t know what is involved with creating and maintaining the program.

    In the future I do agree that we should always have a co-ed option as to not exclude anyone.

  8. In reply to Kim’s comments:

    First, I think your approach of looking at the women-only beginning running as an experiment is fantastic. So much of life is just try one thing and then, if that doesn’t work, try another. The world would be a much better place if more people would try to learn from negative outcomes rather than sink all their efforts into fighting them.

    Second, as far as brainstorming goes, I do have a couple of suggestions. The most important is to open the running program up to men. Courses change parameters all the time for all kinds of reasons. To give a few examples from my own life: The class in college that was advertised as being taught by a world famous expert is instead taught by the guy down the hall — because he’s the person who ended up being available. The high school class that was supposed to be on 19th and 20th century literature only covers late 20th century books — because that’s what the teacher really wants to teach. The art class for children ages 5 to 8 is suddenly full of teenagers — because otherwise not enough kids would be signed up. The women’s running program ends up with a few men in it — because the running club decided that excluding people based on gender is harmful to the group. I’m guessing that very few women who have signed up will be bothered in the least. And you can always give those few their money back (how many colleges refund tuition if the actual course isn’t exactly the same as the initial course description?).

    My suggestion really isn’t a caviler approach to keeping promises. Sometimes mistakes are made and should be corrected, and in the rest of the world, deals change, original plans don’t work out, contracts are renegotiated, and people have to learn to deal with the sight of those “others” (gender, race, etc.) all the time. It sounds like excluding men was not a key element of the program for the vast majority of people. Women who become unglued because, for example, Margo’s son runs with her, really do have the option of going to an exclusionary group. Better that than to allow those few to ban others from a program.

    Second, I think you are already doing something very important in planning to survey the club for their feelings about the subject. I would suggest that you think about what your goals are for the surveys. If the questions run along the lines of “What makes you uncomfortable about running with people of the opposite sex?” you’ll get one kind of answer. If the questions are along the lines of “How do we make this club a welcoming place for everyone?” you’ll get another kind of answer.

    Finally, I’m going to suggest that the club truly welcome the comments that have been made so far. They probably tell you even more than the surveys will. I know this kind of advice is a lot easier to give than to take, and I know that what you’re doing is working very hard in an unpaid and very demanding volunteer position. And yes, doing so while having to deal with a burst of complaints. Still, these aren’t nitpicky little complaints about a trivial matter, and they shouldn’t be met with closing a thread, admonitions to be nice, or counter-complaints about rehashing. They have been thoughtful and strongly felt opinions about the fundamentals of club membership and direction. Embrace the information. The guys are feeling shut out. A number of the women don’t want them to be. Thank them for letting you know.

  9. Hi everyone. I just want to clarify that there is a co-ed beginner’s program that starts in June. This is our Running Start Program. The women’s running program just happens to start earlier, so there is the false assumption that it is the only one. And to be clear, PGRC is not a women-only running club so there is no “ours” and “theirs.” Lastly, the reason why the Exec. Board is predominantly female is because these are the individuals that were nominated or who nominated themselves. But, for the record, we have a Treasurer (Bill Radcliffe), Assistant Treasurer At-Large Member (Dan Grasso), Equipment Manager (Ian Wright), and Volunteer Coordinator (Dave Bennett) who are all…wait for it…men! In addition to these men, we have male club members who regularly attend and give input at the Exec Board meetings so there is no female agenda at play here.

    I just wanted to clarify some things.

  10. What’s happening here? It seems… no, this discussion HAS gone off the rails! We’re turning on one another when I thought the whole point of a discussion was to air concerns in an attempt to make things better! This is what, day 2 and we’re still doing the boys against the girls thing? I don’t know about you guys, but I’m exhausted! I think some very valid points were made as well as some suggestions on how to proceed GOING FORWARD!
    Poor Kim is on the verge of a nervous breakdown and some folks are threatening to leave the club. Are we really willing to destroy the club over this issue? All sides were heard. Apologies were made. For the love of the club, PLEASE people let the divisive portion of this discussion, die here!

  11. WOW! I had no idea that sharing my two cents would cause such a discussion.

    Vickie and Robert, thank you for sharing your comments and questions. I truly did not intend offend anyone. My comments were taken out of context.

    Damien hit it right on the head with his statement suggesting that we remain from making comments like “lovely ladies” on the blog. After read Byron’s comment, “Now, while it’s nice to be surrounded by such lovely ladies, it would be nice to add some testosterone to the mix..” my initial thought was, “Are we focused on the right thing?” As a happily married woman, I was slightly offended and just wanted to ensure that would not be subjected to anything other than running.

    I appreciate your candidness,

    • For the record, Byron has run with the half-marathon and ten-miler training program every Saturday for months. He has been nothing but respectful to us lovely ladies (yes, I’ll take the compliment!), one of which is his girlfriend.

  12. as I was saying…

    I appreciate your candidness and want the two of you to know that I am more than capable of focusing on running, and joined the group to get fit, make some new friends and have fun in the process.

    This is my very, very first time sharing my thoughts in an open forum, and your comments have taught me that I need to be careful when expressing myself.

    Kim, I sorry if this has caused you any undue stress. You have been more than gracious and supportive during this dialog.

    Chanel, I see that your blogging wit hasn’t changed. I look forward to running with you again this year.

    In closing, I hope that we can embrace the running spirit within us, and put this to pasture.

    Blessings to all,


    • Jackie, Thank you for your thoughtful and open minded reply. It was very helpful for me, and I do understand why you were initially put off.

      I think your contributions — and everyone else’s — have been very productive. My experience w/ the club is that it has been an extraordinarily inclusive group. Men run with women; older people run with younger ones; speedy people race with beginners — and they do so courteously and good naturedly. Even the club’s disagreements are quite civil. This was the kind of topic that can (and perhaps did) create a lot of hurt feelings and animosity, yet, nobody was rude. Nobody attacked men. Nobody attacked women. Nobody insulted anyone. The club stayed on topic and responded that it wanted to continue its tradition of inclusiveness.

      Far from being “boys against girls,” “off the rails” or a reason for anyone to feel nervous, this discussion has given the Board valuable information as to the direction the members want to take. The one thing that would have made it better would have been for the Board itself to have participated.

  13. Jackie:
    Good to know that no further offenses were given.

    Kind of mixed feelings, though, about it turning out that you don’t have any problems focusing on your running with men around, or men being around.

    On the one hand, it’s nice to know that if I showed up at a run you were at, that wouldn’t a problem for you.

    On the other hand, the club adopted the policy of excluding men from a program specifically in order to benefit women who did not want men around. It would have been good to hear directly from someone who did feel that way, find out why, and maybe figure out something that could be done that did not exclude men and make some feel unwelcome. As it is, there’s clearly damage being done to the club, and nobody seems to be benefiting.

    For Bryon’s comment, I think Damien’s approach was more effective than yours. I’ll also offer up this observation, not as excuse but for people to consider in light of Vickie’s suggestion to do the mirror test: 30 years ago, when I was often in male-dominated groups, it was not uncommon to hear a woman say “Not that I mind being around all you handsome men, but it’d be nice to get more estrogen in the room.”

    I’m sure I’m much to young to have experiences from 30 years ago or (mumble) years online. But, from the latter, I’ll mention:
    there is nothing you can say, intending sarcasm, irony, or any other subtlety, that somebody else hasn’t said online being absolutely serious. If you think I’m even remotely wrong about this, visit (n.b.: it is fluently offensive to all; it starts with the earth being not flat, or round, but a cube, and goes rapidly downhill).

  14. Wow. Just wow. I just recently joined, and I guess I expected a much more casual, informal kind of group. That was naive. Things instead seem very bureaucratic, for lack of a better word, and I don’t think this is what I had in mind. I’ve already paid for the beginner women’s group so I will attend, but unfortunately I doubt I’ll be participating regularly beyond that.

  15. Hi Carleen – I hope you’ll stick around and see the wide variety of what the club has to offer. It ranges the gamut from folks who meet informally for runs to organized training programs such as the one you will be participating in. Comments on the blog are the opinions of just a few individuals, and I wouldn’t take them to be representative of the club as a whole, anymore than me posting about my ultramarathon suggests that we are a club of ultramarathoners (which we are not, by the way). In many ways we are a casual informal group, although it does seem many people prefer the more organized training programs and races to the informal stuff. Also, I hope you and others will give feedback to the club leadership and coaches. And we can all be the change we wish to see, that’s pretty much how anything happens in a club such as ours- for example folks in Ft. Washington decided they wanted weekly workouts in that part of the county, and so they made it happen. Anyway, my advice would be to give it a chance, enjoy the training program but don’t limit yourself only to what that program has to offer. Best wishes to you and all the other new members and silent blog readers. – Cindy

  16. really disappointed in today’s Springburst race. registration snafu aside, I wondering how a race course that has been the same for umpteen years can get screwed up. yes, I’m the runner that did not finish the race. why? may sound strange but my goal for the day was doing an 8k, not a 6.5k. this was to be my fifth or sixth Springburst but probably will be my last.

    • I understand your disappointment with the race. We were disappointed as well that Murphy and his law were at play yesterday. Have most of your Springburst experiences been positive? If so, I would hope you would give us a chance to correct some of the errors that were made.

    • Hi Jon– I can totally understand your frustration. I wasn’t at Springburst this year as I was running BRR, but I did talk to one of the course marshals today. My understanding is that there was a course marshal at the turnaround point, but apparently runners didn’t get that far because a “helpful” spectator was telling runners to turn around before the actual turnaround point. I don’t think it was malicious, they were just trying to help out. The turnaround course marshal figured out what happened to rectify the situation for the second loop.


  17. John, thanks for leaving word. I was also running today, well, basically doing physical rehabilitation for an injury. Had I been racing, I’d have had some thoughts in your direction too. I have no official position either with the club or the race, but did direct the first 1-3 of the Springbursts you were at.

    A question: Would you be more likely to return if there were, say $5 off your entry for next year’s race? I’m in no position to make this happen and have no idea if the club or race director would carry out my idea.

    But since it was a major error that did seriously affect the race (wound up being about 7 km — the second turn around was more nearly correct), I do think some kind of ‘make good’ to this years’ runners makes sense. Maybe you have some other ideas too.

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