Heidi Novak

President’s Message

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As 2021 came to an end and 2022 is just getting started, it’s a great time to reflect on the past year with the club. It was definitely an exciting year for me as President. While we are still dealing with COVID-19, we were able to restart many of our events and get back to in-person races.


Signature Races

Last year, we were able to hold all four of our Signature Races in person, and also had virtual options for the races.  For those of you who are new to the club, our Signature Races are as follows: Summer Solstice 8K, Women’s Distance 5K, Market Street Mile, and Rick’s Run 5.22 Mile Race and Ultra Challenge. Plans are already underway for the 2022 Signature Races, and you will see some new faces helping out with the races, as either Race Director or Assistant Race Director. Chris Dutton, current Vice President, has stepped up to take on the role of Race Director for Market Street Mile. A huge thank you to Lou King, who has been the Race Director, for all of his hard work with this race. Michelle Edwards, current Secretary, has stepped up to be the Assistant Race Director for the Summer Solstice 8K. She will be working with Race Director extraordinaire, Harriet Langlois

Club Competition

While it didn’t get going until June, the Grand Prix Series was a huge success and there were 14 different events that members could participate in, ranging in distances from one-mile (Market Street Mile) to 50 miles (Stone Mill 50 Mile Run). The Equalizer Series consisted of only 6 races, however, participants are on equal footing, as race times are equalized using standard track and field age-grading procedures. We will be recognizing winners (participation, overall, and age-group) at the Annual Running Celebration and Banquet later this month. More about that in a bit. A huge thank you to the Competition Committee, Shannon Matthews, Ruth Taylor, Jenny Hallberg, Lou King, and Claire Heasman, for all their hard work. The 2022 Grand Prix schedule has been posted on the website and kicks off this month with everyone’s favorite race, the Lewis Memorial 10-Miler. The Equalizer Series kicks off next month with the RRCA 10 Mile Club Challenge. [Please note: you have to be a registered member of the FSRC or any other area RRCA club in order to sign up for the Club Challenge. If you are a current FSRC member, please contact Heidi at president@steeplechasers.org for a special registration link.]

Training Programs

While COVID-19 caused some challenges with organizing the training programs, thanks to our amazing Training Program Coordinators, Crystal Tressler and Chris Dutton, and all of the coaches, we were able to hold training programs in the spring and fall. Plans are underway for this year’s training programs, which will kick off with our Spring Half Marathon Training Program next month. Be sure to check out the Frederick Steeplechasers Facebook Group, as well as the bi-monthly eNewsletter for updates on these programs, including information about registration. These training programs are FREE to all current members. 

Other Events

Other events that took place in 2021 included the Decathlon Series, led by Tim O’Keefe. As high school tracks weren’t available at the beginning of the series, Tim got creative and hosted events at local parks. Winners from the Decathlon Series were recognized at the Summer Picnic, which was hosted by the Social Committee, Gwyn Whieldon and Jason Scaroni. We were also able to hold two of our low-key races. Thanks to Victor Cretella, for organizing the Independence 5000 and Mark Lawrence, for organizing the Run for the Pie 10K. Both races are on the Grand Prix schedule for 2022. We were also able to hold the Membership Meeting in November, which allowed us to recognize all of our wonderful volunteers. Thank you to Crystal Tressler, for organizing the volunteer appreciation gifts, as well as tracking all of the hours. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact Crystal (crystal.tressler@steeplechasers.org). 

One of my favorite events from this year was the Steeplechasers Aid Station at JFK 50, organized by Paul Christiansen. I wasn’t able to volunteer at the aid station, as I was running the race, but am so thankful to all of the members who were out there helping that day. It was definitely one of the highlights of the race, and as always, the cookies that Harriet Langlois made were a huge hit. A huge thank you to Paul Encarnación, for being out on the course taking pictures. I love this picture of me on the towpath as I am making my way to the Steeplechasers Aid Station.

Heidi approaching the FSRC Mile 19 Aid Station at the JFK-50 in November 2021.

What’s New and Upcoming

So, now that we’ve reminisced about 2021, let’s talk about what we have going on this year. 

While COVID-19 put a stop to our Breakfast Runs in 2021, we are happy to be bringing them back this year. Our first one kicks off on Saturday, January 8 and is hosted by Caree Vander Linden. As the indoor mask mandate has returned in Frederick County, please make sure that you have a mask with you. Also, if you aren’t feeling well, we ask that you please not attend these events. A huge thank you to Karen Ochs, for organizing these. Information about Breakfast Runs, including the schedule, will be posted on the Facebook Group, as well as in the bi-monthly newsletter. 

Our first Grand Prix race, the Lewis Memorial 10-Miler will be taking place on Saturday, January 22, and is organized by Mark Lawrence. This low-key race is FREE to current members.

The Annual Banquet

Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases in Frederick County, we have decided to postpone the Annual Running Celebration and Banquet that was scheduled for Saturday, January 29, at the Delaplaine Arts Center from 6-9 p.m. We are working with the Delaplaine to reschedule and will update you with the new date as soon as possible.This event is an opportunity for us to recognize members who have had outstanding years as runners, as participants/volunteers in the club, and those who have made significant contributions to the running community at large. Here is the link to find out more about this event and to register (once we have a new date): https://runsignup.com/fsrcbanquet. In addition to recognizing members, we will also be voting on suggested changes to the Constitution. This information was shared with members last month. Here is the link to the proposed changes: FSRC Constitution Update Recommendation

Club Challenge 10 Mile Race

The RRCA 10 Mile Club Challenge will be held on Sunday, February 27, at Howard Community College. Due to COVID-19 and construction on campus, there are some changes to this year’s race. Information about these changes, as well as a link to register are included in the January newsletter.

The DEI Committee

I’m excited to announce that the DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) Committee, led by Ali Green, has been formed and will be working on bringing awareness to club leadership and members on topics pertaining to diversity, achieving equity, and fostering inclusion for all members. 

While we are hoping that COVID-19 won’t impact events we have planned, we are aware of the rise in cases, as well as the return of restrictions in Frederick County. In the event that any additional restrictions return, we will notify members of how this will impact events. 

Stay safe and healthy, and keep on running!!

Heidi Novak

FSRC President