Why did you join the Steeps and what do you get out of it?

On April 1, 2015, a prospective member Kris Snipes posted the following to our Facebook group:

I hope no one takes offense to this … tell me why you joined the Steeps and what YOU get out of it. I’m a fairly new runner and have been hesitant to officially join because I feel like race fees, shoes, appropriate gear, etc already take so much of my $$. What do you get out of this club and why do [you] renew your membership??

Here are some of the responses.

Lisa Stern Schneider: The best of this group is the motivation, the training runs and the friendships. The steeps are great….

Ken Kotchenreuther: Kris, i just joined this year. I had no real expectations going in to the group. all i can say is “i’m glad i joined “. I’ve made some new friends that i hope will last forever. The support that the group gives each other is amazing. They make you feel part of a family, always cheering you on. As was displayed this weekend at the Mission 10 miler. I’m sure you have been told many times, you get out what you put in…

Bill Wood: Heads up on races, get to know and share experiences with people, opportunity to volunteer…

Becky Boughn: The training group runs that are offered, the friendships, the support, the motivation are just a few reasons why I joined the Steeps. It is $20 a year and you get discount codes to races, free races, free training groups, awards for participating in their Grand Prix races, to me the $20 is a great deal. Plus I personally love volunteering at the finish lines it is really fun and it makes me appreciate the volunteers at races I’m running a lot more.

Laura ‘Huddleston’ White: Following. I’ve been debating whether to join officially as well.

Mark Lawrence: I joined just to learn from and be inspired by people that were doing things I had never done. 15 years later, I’m still learning and being inspired and have done more than I ever dreamed I could. Not sure what else you could get equivalent to that for $20 a year. I could write pages about this, but I’ll leave room for others. I’m certain you’ll get plenty of answers.

Jason Lawrence: The two free races are worth more than $20 alone. Then there’s free half and full marathon training groups that provide motivation, advice, and camaraderie. Plus all of the things already mentioned. It’s great to be a Steep!

Pamela Monaghan-Geernaert: You will recoup [some of] the $20 in race discount codes. And we offer 2 free races (lewis and pie run – yep free pie) but I joined it for the friends. I was new to town. I learned the best electricians, dentists , summer camps etc. I found runners faster than me to push me, and slower than me who motivate me . But mostly I found genuine people of all ages , professions etc who love to run who will listen to your problems on a 20 mile training run, share their water with you when you forget , praise you when you kick butt at a race and sympathize with you when you are sidelined with an injury. These are more than friends. These guys are my family and I will be Steep strong because of them.

Katelin Peropat: Like many have already said the free races and race discounts more than recoup the (relatively) small joining fee, not to mention the myriad of other pros to joining the group. Membership is really what you make it though. You could join and continue to run as you do, maybe do a couple grand prix races or the free races and not get much out of it. Or you could take advantage of everything else it has to offer: training groups (from 5k to marathon), the decathlon series (also free to members over the summer), grand prix series, volunteering, breakfast runs, happy hours…not to mention finding some like-minded people of all paces and from all walks of life who are just as crazy about running as you are! I run regularly with Steep people from the ages of 23 – 70 and can find conversation with all of them. Meeting people and making some good friends has been more than enough incentive for me to continue my membership this year.

Janadel Harris: I was new to town and had been turned off by running clubs from when I first started running, living in Northern VA. I moved back to Frederick and decided to join in on some of the group runs first. I met a ton of great friends, but felt excluded from some of the special events; the summer decathlon, the Pie run, the Lewis run, the Club Challenge- all of which non members could participate in (but are free for members), but I didn’t quite feel part of the “team.” So I joined the club… recouped my $20 membership fee within the first 3 months- free races, race discounts, discount at If the Shoe Fits [sadly discontinued], etc. In addition, we just began training programs- women’s 5k, half marathon, and full marathon training (contact Luanne Houck, Billy Clem, or myself for more information)- plans that other clubs charge over $100 for… ours are FREE! and FUN! Through the people/friends I have met in this club, I have become a stronger runner, a stronger person, and a stronger woman! I can thank my Steeps enough! They are my 2nd family; whoever said you can’t pick your family was wrong! I hope you join… we would love to have you in our club!

Janadel Harris: Laura ‘Huddleston’ White we’d love to have you join as well!

Harriet Langlois: This is pretty much the best investment you could make as a Frederick-area runner. Apart from the economic equation, which is clearly worth it, the camaraderie, support, and motivation are priceless. Since joining FSRC, I’ve made many friends, enjoyed the rewards of volunteering, and left my comfort zone by running on the track and the trails. It’s a great group.

Janadel Harris: oh.. and I almost forgot… we have awesome Happy Hour events each month too!

Effie Nom: I joined a few years ago and I am NOT an elite runner or super athlete (believe me…) but the fun times, motivation, educational offerings from great resources and general good-spirited support at the events beats all! and there is the beer, too…..

Kris Snipes: Thanks guys As a semi new runner it is a bit intimidating to read posts on here sometimes. Sounds like I’d get a lot out of it though with group training runs. I’m considering a full in the fall so I’ll need a lot of encouragement.

Effie Nom: all abilities are represented! newbies and elites! i learn so much from EACH level of ability!

Jennifer Cummings: I just joined this year, and was glad I joined from day 1. Finding so many other crazy people to run with when temps were in the teens early on a Saturday morning was totally worth it.

John Steiner: The group is AWESOME!!!!!!

Katelin Peropat: I trained with the marathon group last summer leading up into the fall races and they were fantastic! I was really only looking to do my first half marathon in the fall (Freedom’s Run in October), but really needed the help getting in the longer miles. As a new-to-distance runner, I felt like I reached a new distance PR every Saturday with the group training long runs! I topped out at the 16 miler, but the group went on to do up to 20 milers together. Everyone was always so encouraging and supportive…they even had me considering a full marathon for a while!

Katelin Peropat: Not to mention, they provided invaluable advice about nutrition and hydration on long runs, which was completely new to me having only run up to 10ks previously. Just this year they have started doing “Education Nites” as well. There are a couple coming up about nutrition….and these are completely free as well! Advice and guidance from runners, nutritionists, physical therapists, etc!

Scott Abernethy: I joined because I wanted to connect with other runners in the area. I’m not able to participate in a lot of the club activities because of my schedule but I have enjoyed the ones that I’ve made time for. The group training runs were a real eye opener for me. I was able to hit paces that I never thought I could before. There are a lot of really supportive and encouraging people in the club and I running with them has helped me to improve my running and to set my goals higher. There is no way I would have qualified for Boston if Keary Johnston hadn’t accused me of being a sand-bagger and to stop holding back.

Billy Clem: Okay, I will try to keep this brief (all of you who are laughing right now stop!)
The membership comes out to $1.67 per month. The two free races are just the icing on the cake. Like Janadel & Pamela mentioned, you get so much more out of it than just
“running.” I have met so many people that I would have never known because we happen to share this one interest together. Some of the nicest people and best friends (not just running friends) are people I’ve met through the club. Our group runs are filled with entertaining conversation, laughter, motivation, Twizzlers, advice, and most of all support from people who genuinely care about each other. Since joining a few years back I’ve picked the brains of many more experienced runners. The information and experiences I’ve learned in just 2-3 years would have taken me 20 years to experience without the club. I used to be intimidated about joining a “running club” because I thought it was about elite runners and racers but The Steeplechasers is not just a running club it’s a way of life John Kippen, Mike OGrady, Mark Lawrence, Anne Light, Tim O’Keefe, Luanne Houck, Steve Dobson, Martha Grib-Kachman, Peggy Waxter & Malcolm Senior, are some of the “senior” members (sorry guys) who helped not only open my eyes to what the running community in Frederick has to offer but showed me how much enjoyment there is in being part of a group. In our half marathon training group right now we have a 13-year-old and a 64-year-old that sometimes run together, doesn’t get any better than that
… Ask Brenda O’Donnell what she thinks about the club because she seems to put it more simply and eloquently than the rest of us can.

Billy Clem: Kris Snipes, if it makes you feel any better MANY of us were intimidated before joining the club and the experiences we’ve had since have been nothing but welcoming and enjoyable

Mike OGrady: Motivation, Knowledge and Friendship, best value in town. (From one of those “Senior Members”)

John Way: I joined to run the Summer Decathlon for free and to be scored in the Grand Prix Series. I stay because it’s one of my favorite clubs. I like the members, even Billy Clem.

Billy Clem: Okay Mike OGrady said more than I did with a lot less words.

Lou King: Best group of people you’ll find anywhere, in my humble opinion. When Harriet and I first joined (2008, I think) we only went to the happy hours for the first couple of years, as we are generally early morning runners. But after then we got more and more involved, and it is really enriching our lives on so many levels: friendship, community, health — I could go on and on.

Martha Grib-Kachman: I have been a steep for the most part of 23 years. I have been through so much & the steeps have always been a constant for me; through thick & thin! One of the BEST things I have ever done was to become a steep. We are a big family!

Nicole Davis: Pretty much everyone here has mentioned all the benefits and activities, so I won’t although I do enjoy all those perks. But really I joined for the people. I find the Steeps to be a great group of people to hang out with. All walks of life, all levels of education, all levels of running ability and experience. I don’t race much by choice, and I’ve never felt pressured by the Steeps to do so. Pretty much an “everyone’s accepted” kind of group. So join up and join it. You won’t regret it.

Jenny Donoghue: Without repeating what everyone else said, I’ll just offer my own thoughts briefly! I spent 6 years running and training for long-distance events completely on my own. I didn’t know what I was missing until I joined the Steeps. The companionship is awesome. The training programs are unbeatable, whether you’re training to run a 5-minute mile pace or a 15-minute mile pace! There are so many social, competitive, and recreational opportunities that no matter what kind of runner you are, I guarantee there will be something for you. The best part for me is meeting and running with new people who like running as much as I do. Whether it’s on a chatty long run or a fast, quiet tempo run, there is just something incredible about running with others who, no matter where they are in their walk of life, are, in those moments, just like you.

Kris Snipes: If the response to this simple post is any indication of the support I can expect from joining the Steeps then it’s a no brainer. Thank you ALL for taking the time to answer my question!!

Mike Armogida: For all that the Steeps do for the Frederick running community, $20/year is a bargain. I’ve been a newbie member for two years and hope to get more involved in the future with the group runs and other events. It’s always comforting to see Mark Lawrence out on the race route – you know it’s going to be a great event.

Ron Robisch: Hi Kris, and welcome! If you’re interested in the Summer Decathlon (coming up soon!!!), what you really get with joining the Steeps is not 2, but 12 free races! Or actually 13 if you include the annual Firecracker 5K that gets mixed into the Decathlon. The SD happens on Wednesday nights over the course of 10 weeks in the summer. Each night features a main event race on the track, followed by the always entertaining kids’ dash, followed by a FANTASTIC & FUN relay workout for those who choose to stay for it. We divide up into 3 or 4 person teams or roughly equal ability and do the week’s workout. Lot’s of variability to it to make it interesting and fun for all!

Barbara Smith Meely: Thanks for asking the question Kris, I too was wondering the same thing & agree it’s a no brainer

Brent Ayer: Because for 1/8th the cost of a mud run entry you get a ready-made family of knowledgeable runners! That is hard to find at any cost.

Roseann Abdu: I agree with everyone’s comments above. You won’t find a better community of friends, advisors, supporters, motivators, cheerleaders, fellow running geeks (30-minute discussion about your new running shoes or that nagging knee pain? I’m in!), and just cool, friendly and interesting people. All levels, goals, ages, paces, distances, etc. welcome. At $20/year, it’s like the deal of the century. I hope you join us!

Billy Clem: Kris, I am SO glad you asked this question because I feel like one thing we could get better at is communicating all the stuff that was just said to more people. In the past few years I feel like the steeplechasers made an effort to let the running community know it was an all inclusive group that has something for everyone but getting that word out to the running community at large is not always easy. So thanks!

Mark Lawrence: I knew this was going to get a big response! Welcome to the club Kris, Barbara, Laura, and whoever else was listening in!

Billy Clem: The funny thing is I joined the club because of the Decathalon series. I realized how much I loved being around great people that loved to run AND how much I hated running around in circles on a track

Effie Nom: DONT FORGET THE PIE!!!! PIE for steeps who run it!

Casii McVey Dodd: I joined the women’s distance training program as a new runner with only a few 5ks and a Spartan (what did my sister get me in to?!?) under my belt. The training and breaking 30 were great. The running buddies and friendships are PRICELESS. I can’t imagine life, much less running life, without them.

Robbie Blaylock: Thank you for posting this, I am also a new runner and was wondering the same thing as well. I will read through these comments today

Cindi Pollicove Diamondstone: Support and encouragement. I am old and slow and have always felt welcome. When we train, the rule is “no one left behind” which I appreciate. I would not be running if not for the Steeplechasers. I only started 4 years ago after I retired.

Karyn Spertzel: I joined because it was part of the package for the WDF training a few years ago. I stayed because I made good friends who challenge me when I need challenging and and encourage me when that’s what I’ve needed. And it’s like a built in cheering section at nearly every race. I’m rather slow so I usually have a cheering section cheering me in when I finish!

Rich Potter: What you get from Steeplechasers is a support system. You can go out and run by yourself but it is nice to be with a group that has the same goals and can encourage you when it is difficult. You can get advice about your running and you find a group that goes at your pace. My favorite thing is that I have several groups that I know will be out there running and I know I can come out and run when I have a chance to run without having to make prior arrangements.

Liam Rivers: This one is easy. The people, thats why I joined. Now I don’t live in Frederick and am a member of a running group in my current city. The difference now is the marathon and half marathon groups cost extra. FSRC marathon and half marathon groups are free. The people in FSRC are the greatest… And like Rich said, the support system is awesome in FSRC.