Rotary Run: The beginning of the end?

This letter was e-mailed to all club members on October 3.

To all SRC Rotarians:

We had a very productive meeting of the Southern Rensselaer County Rotary Club’s Board of Directors following the October 2 general meeting. Among major topics on the agenda were the matters of fundraisers traditionally undertaken by the Club, and new efforts that appear to be better options in these challenging times for service clubs in our society.

For example, the annual “Bowl Over Polio” event, now nearing its 4th year, and the “Simulator Spring Fling” golf event that we are expanding from one to three events this winter obviously have been successful even though the idea of the bowling event has been co-opted both by the District and by the Lansingburgh club. We also are putting renewed efforts into our “Rotary Home Cooking” series and already have several such events being put on the schedule.

In addition, we also have decided to streamline our previously annual “CPR Certification Day,” making it a biannual event since most people require certification renewal every two years and off-year attendance is low. Plus, we have several exciting ideas for efforts to add to our schedule which will be made known and discussed at future club meetings.

However, it is the unanimous consensus of the Board that we strongly consider ending the annual Rotary Run, which after 34 years seems to have run its course. Participation has steadily been dwindling, and the amount of money raised and the continually-rising costs of putting on the event now far outstrip the effort put into it.

When we began the Rotary Run in 1981, it was an unusual event. Since then, however, 5K runs and their ilk have become commonplace and we have seen a steady decline in the number of runners. In one month alone, we tracked 11 such events in the Capital Region. As one Board member noted, even the Oakwood Historic Cemetery in Troy has a 5K.

In essence, there is nothing that distinguishes our event from similar events even though in recent years we have (a) increased promotional efforts, (b) added professional timing services, (c) worked to increase financial support from local businesses, and (d) attempted to differentiate our event from competitive ones by the use of such things as a guest honorary starter who has decades of experience with the Boston Marathon.

To be blunt, we would have run a deficit in the past few years if not for the generosity of a small number of SRC members who dug deep into their own pockets to underwrite the cost of professional timing services and other attendant costs. There is no reason to think the same thing would not be necessary in 2015.

Thus, your Board has agreed that a wiser use of our talents and efforts would be to increase the number of targeted, smaller events with a higher upside potential rather than continue expending our efforts activities that have demonstrated a steadily-shrinking potential.

Naturally, we would like to have input from the general membership of SRC before a final decision is made. To that end, please let me know via e-mail if you have serious objections to ending the Rotary Run in favor of other efforts. Any details in support of your point of view would be helpful.

As always, thank you for your thoughts and efforts in support of our club’s efforts in the community.

Bill Dowd

SRC President 2014-15


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