Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Running Troops First Year | What To Expect in 2014

We have reached a one year anniversary and I thought it would be a great time to review our mission and what to expect in 2014.
Since our FB group is set to private, I am posting this on my personal blog, so there is a public link for those to read the message.
Our first year has zoomed right by! What a great year we have had. It far exceeded my expectations and I couldn’t be more thrilled to know we are about to enter another phase in our club.
*This post will be rather lengthy, so you might want to pull up a seat and relax*
First, many have asked me what my business background is. So, here is my brief resume for the last 30 years (trust me, it isn't that thrilling). 
• I have founded and directed two non-profit organization. One organization was to provide sign language interpretation to concerts and the other was focused on women-owned businesses. 
• I currently own my own company/firm that provides social media/branding services to online business and celebrity clients such as (but not limited to) Ricky Schroder, Tanya Memme, Bake You Happy, Island Boost, Michael Corbett, Jennifer Farrell, Patricia Kluge and more. In addition, I provide digital media consulting to several TV/radio outlets. 
• I have a extremely talented staff of 3, who help me on a day to day basis to serve my clients. I have owned my company since 2008. 
• I have been in Marketing/PR in some capacity or another for over 30 years. 

I announced the founding of Running Troops on December 7, 2012. It is not by accident I founded it on an important day in our history, Pearl Harbor Day. While Running Troops is not a military organization, someone once very dear to me was at Pearl Harbor during the attacks and I know, if he were still alive today he would of supported the vision of Running Troops.
Since that time, I have lived & breathed Running Troops, night and & day. It is never off my mind, even when I am working at my daytime job. There is always a member who is struggling, celebrating and everything in between.  The well-being of our our members is a high priority to me.  It is my deepest desire to give the running community a place where they feel valued, appreciated and can exchange in healthy dialogue about a wide variety of topics.
Some of our business/club highlights:
  • Became a USTAF member group 
  • RRCA sponsor 
  • Team Red White and Blue sponsor 
  • Obtained our LLC Nevada State Business license 
  • FB group membership has grown to almost 300 (at this writing) 
  • Sponsor of Desert Dash Trail events (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Assisted several runners in need during a hospital stay or financial crisis
  • Donated to several runner fund raisers 
  • Directed our Inaugural 5k, 10k, 13.1 & 26.2 in Santa Monica, CA
  • Our website launch www.RunningTroops.com
  • Our social media accounts launched  -Twitter: @RunningTroops    -Instagram:  @RunningTroops

When the Founding Council was created, I hand selected individuals who I believed at the time would best epitomize the mission and direction of our club. The group was eclectic. Race directors, trail runners, road runners, sub-Elite’s, Masters & Ultra marathoners.
Our first order of business was to establish our motto and Credo. This was not an easy task. We had a blank slate and every person had different ideas.  At last we settled on The Club motto & credo.  
-Our Motto-
To Inspire. To Challenge. To Serve.  In 2014, to simplify – it will be Inspire.Challenge.Serve.
-Our Credo-
It was the true test of mental muscle. I had laid out what I wanted in a club and now, we needed to govern that mission. Phew! Countless hours went into writing that Credo and we finally came up with the gold prize.
Click here to read our Credo 

and finally-Our Mission Statement-

"The mission of Running Troops is to inspire runners throughout the training and racing cycle by sharing plans and accomplishments, to challenge runners to achieve their personal best through proper goal-setting, training, and nutrition, and to serve runners in races through race planning and directing, through volunteering to serve runners at or in races, and through spectating and offering encouragement to runners of all speeds and abilities."

Onward, we went onto the Rank Advancement levels. While I do not believe it is the backbone of our club, it will be the most visible and most active. Our Rank Advancement levels. How do we recognize racers & volunteers with more than a “yay” and pat on the back?

We have a recognition program.
First, the racers: Our program is based on your race miles. All racers are verified through the link that a member provides for the database. Virtual races and training runs do not apply. Now, I know many of you are wondering and equally number of runners have asked, “what qualifies for a race distance?”
One answer: a Race Director link. The link must be on a race director’s website. Posting your own time on a blog or on social media is not a verifiable link. Is there a minimum of people who must be in a race? No. Let me emphasize, these links must be on a race director’s website. When we audit the member links, we will also audit the race director to ensure their intent was to establish a race event for others to participate.
Why not have a minimum of race participants? Quite simply – why should we? Is not a 5k distance the same with 5 people or 5K people? Is not a race that has 10 Half Marathoners just as hard as having 10K runners? I have stood up and will continue to say, that race miles are race miles.
Will there be cheaters to our program? As in anything in life, there will be attempts to harm our system so others can have an upper hand. We are ready to handle those on a case by case basis, not assuming all members are going to cheat. I believe that people are genuinely honest and will give them the benefit of the doubt.
Ultimately, it does not cost me any additional money to have a very open recognition program for the members. So, why limit.? Until someone can show me a legitimate business reason to limit, I will honor my original decision not to have a race criteria. If at any time in the future, I feel the need to change that criteria, you have my personal promise that I will handle it with the current member achievements in mind and with the utmost of professionalism.
*Volunteers – This was not as easy as one would believe to create. Many, if not most RD’s, do not list volunteers on their website. So, how is it verified? The council and I came to the decision to base it on the honor system. Ultimately, those who attempt to cheat will be caught and noticed. This goes back to my  sentence in a previous paragraph, I believe that people are genuinely honest and I will give them the benefit of the doubt (until they prove me otherwise).
*Race Directors – We are working on a recognition program for the RD’s, at this time. For now, we will give many the opportunity to list their races on our website and more. 

Our rank names are generic titles. You can find these type of titles, within law enforcement, scouts and others. While the names are military focused, they do not in any way imply association with our beloved armed forces nor any specific branch.
When a member has reached any one of our levels they have the opportunity to purchase a dog tag to signify their achievement. The cost of this dog tag is not included in the membership fees. The purchase of the dog tags are purely optional. We have redesigned our original dog tags to have more of military look and feel and I am confident you will enjoy and be proud to wear them. What do you receive when you reach a certain rank level? You will receive an electronic certificate that can be printed and suitable for framing. You also will be recognized on our FB group and on our blog newsletter page (soon to be launched).

**Our FB Group** 
This is a closed group for the purpose to keep spammers away. Anyone can join the group, you do not have to be a paying member to be a part of our FB group nor do paying members need to be a part of the FB group. Click here to join our free group.
Our FB group terms are very straight forward: "*Welcome to the Running Troops Official FB Group! While our official website is being built - this will be our gathering place to converse, laugh, share and be with like-minded individuals.

Please note: In order to protect our members and ensure a positive atmosphere - at no time will harassment, rudeness, name calling, overtly sexual in nature or overtly negative posts be tolerated or accepted. Failure to comply could and most likely, will result in removal from the FB group.”
Our group is heavily moderated by myself, Kirk Buckley, Daniel Widdis, Julia Beavers and Jeff Lui. We are a team who are in daily contact about our club and members.  We are your RT Leadership to make this the best environment we can possibly give you. We believe you deserve it. If there is a post that needs to be removed (which is rare) we have a policy in place to remove the post and privately inbox the person, to explain why, as a courtesy to the poster.
In the event someone continues to violate our FB group terms, despite our requests to cease – that person will be removed from the FB group. We will not ever engage in a cyber-bully tactic against any member, on or off our group. Not everyone is going to fit into our mission statement and that is really okay. It doesn’t make him or her a bad person or even a person with bad opinions; he or she is just not a fit for Running Troops. We are here to support our community, member or not. 
So, what’s in store for 2014?
  • Membership website will be launched. You will be able to begin to add your races. As promised, you can begin adding your verifiable races from January 1, 2013. This gives all members the same place to start tracking their race miles. We believe this is fair to all our members.
  • Members will be able to receive discounts on our growing number of preferred vendors and races. This is only available to our paying members. -New gear. Based on feedback of our original gear, we have done a complete overhaul of our gear and will be re-launching in 2014, which includes additional items such as hats & visors & new vendors.
  • Monthly podcasts. The RT Leadership will gather once a month to answer your questions and discuss RT business & happenings.
  • RT Event. We are in the beginning steps to get a permit for our 2nd annual event. The location will be in Las Vegas, and the date will be announced as soon as we have it locked it. The distances will be 5k, 10k, 13.1 & 26.2. 
  • We continue to support Team Red White & Blue as our club charity.
  • What else? Have fun and reach our racing & running goals! There are many of you who are shooting for BQ’s, PR’s, new distances, more travel, more races or less races. It’s important to you and we are here to help you achieve your goals. Please feel free to reach out to any member of our Leadership to let us know how we can help you. We do care about your success on and off the course. This is more than a club to many of us and we want you to feel at home, appreciated & respected for your achievements.  

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for sharing in this vision with me. The things I have learned along the way, the people I have met – just priceless. Every decision I make regarding this club, I believe is in the best interest of the club. Since I am human, I will make some incorrect choices, but I will work diligently to correct them. We have just begun in this Running Troops adventure & I cannot wait to see where the road (or trail) leads us.
(c) C. Ragsdale 2010-13
Run F.A.B. & Boston Strong,

Charlene L. Ragsdale - Las Vegas, NV
*Sponsored by
RobKellerMD.com, KT Tape and Island Boost
*Team Super Hero Master's Elite 2013-14
*Founder, Running Troops
RRCA Certified Running Coach, IFA Certified Sports Nutritionist & Public Speaker
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