RMRR Club History

Part 6: 1980-1985, The End of the Big Growth Years

Membership in the club continued to grow during this five year period, however, there was a definite decline in the growth rate relative to the previous five year period. There was no shortage of outstanding volunteer leadership from club members during this time. Bill Reef served as president in 1981-1982, John Cable in 1983 and Richard Friedman in 1984-1985. All three of these guys stand out, by my standards, as exceptional leaders. They had a lot of help during this era from Gary Dickinson and Dick Van Wagenen.

1980: The 1980 handicap trophy series was the only family sweep in the series history. Through the June race, long time member Ed Gussie, his 13 year old son Jeff, and 11 year old daughter Kim were dominating the top three positions. Kim broke her arm in a roller skating accident in June and the trio were separated by the end of the year. Father Ed came out on top of the standings 28 points ahead of Jeff, who finished second. Kim ended up in the seventh place for the year. The Gussie family is the only family to place three members in the top ten in the same year.

1981: The RMRR membership was shocked to learn that avid supporter Dr. Frank McCabe was bed-ridden after being diagnosed with cancer. Dr. McCabe had always admired and encouraged vitality, endurance and physical fitness, but did not start long distance running until he was about 50. Frank assisted others in founding such mountain races as the Idaho Springs to Central City, Como to Breckenridge, and Mt. Evans. He was a regular at triathlons and major events such as Pike’s Peak, Mt. Evans and Boston.

The May 1981 Mile High Marathon illustrated the expanding participation and outstanding performances that were regularly occurring in the early 1980’s. There were 1900 participants in the marathon with a new women’s state record of 2:54:32 by Debbie Anderson, a men’s masters record of 2:34:48 by Ken Schei, and Bob Shopnitz set a state wheelchair record of 2:49:24.

RMRR member Bob Poppe, age 59, ran his 100th marathon at Gage Oklahoma on May 23.

1982: The longest RMRR newsletters every published were the 26 page monsters edited by Charles Jordan in 1982. You needed several cool ones to get through the newsletters in those days.

We have all heard or know of running compatriots that have died of cardiac arrest while running. The most tragic event for the RMRR occurred during the May 1982 handicap race. Club activist Rich Klassen fell with an apparent heart attack during the last mile of the 9 mile race.

1983: One of our former traditions was the annual Left Foot Award given each year to runners who completed all 12 handicap trophy series races but still did not collect one of the trophies. In 1983, LaRee Morris was the lone winner. In accomplishing this special feat she won one of the individual races and was in the top 15 ribbon places in 2 others. Even with these accomplishments she managed to stay out of the trophy standings. I never understood how she did it.

1984: The club first reached the 1000 active member plateau during 1984. Membership would continue to grow for a few more years, then started declining rapidly.

March 1984 saw the introduction of our current folded booklet newsletter format.

1985: For the first 25 years of the club, we were lead by unpaid volunteers. By 1985, the club’s local presence had expanded into most of the major area events including the Mile High Marathon, Governor’s Cup, Denver Symphony Run, Cherry Creek Sneak, and the Bolder Boulder. In addition, the club was seriously debating entering into the already competitive local professional race management business in Denver. As a result of all these and other factors, the club embarked upon a new direction and created the executive director position. Former club president Bill Reef was hired for this position. The formation of this paid position was a significant new direction for our club, or for that matter any running club. Bell held the position for four years before moving on.