Road Runners Club of America
Founded in 1958, the Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) is the oldest and largest distance running organization in the United States with over 1500 running club and event members representing 200,000 individual runners active in their running communities. The mission of the RRCA is to promote the development and growth of running clubs, running events, and supporting the common interests of runners throughout the country at all stages in life. The RRCA provides a national infrastructure for the development of adult and youth running clubs and events that have boomed into a robust sporting activity. The RRCA actively promotes running as a healthy lifestyle and positive social activity and strives to provide quality programming that can be replicated throughout the country, such as the highly successful Start a Running Club program has been the cornerstone of our organization for over fifty years.
The group originated from an editoral in the August 1957 issue of the Long Distance Long by Olympian H. Browning Ross which proposed to develop of an organization for American distance runners. Ross' concept was modeled after the Road Runners Club of the United Kingdom founded in 1952, as well as similar groups in South Africa and New Zealand. Its first meeting was on February 22, 1958, at the Paramount Hotel in New York City with ten interested "founding members" in attendance. Ross was named acting provisional president.<
By 1989, membership was up to 450 clubs, and Henley Gabeau was selected to serve the organization as the first paid Executive Director.
In 2001, Gabeau retired as Executive Director, and her successor was a polarizing figure. A schism developed and a number of running clubs formed a competing organization called the American Association of Running Clubs. However, following certain personnel and policy changes, the two organizations merged back together in 2005. In 2006, the Board of Directors hired Jean Knaack as the executive director. Membership in 2006 exceeded 740 member clubs and events. It represents 180,000 individual runners. The organization is now based in Arlington, Virginia. As of 2011, the organization has over 1200 running club and event members that represent over 200,000 individuals involved in local running clubs and over three million event participants annually.
In 1978, RRCA President, Jeff Darman helped lobby Congress for the passage of the Amateur Sports Act of 1978. The Act changed the nature of amateur sports in the US and essentially disbanded the Amateur Athletic Union. This ended the virtual monopoly that the AAU had on Olympic sports governing in this country. The result of the breakup of the AAU was the formation of “The Athletics Congress/USA” (TAC/USA). Between 1980 and 1992, TAC/USA served as the official governing body for the sport. In 1992, TAC/USA changed their name to USA Track & Field (USATF) to increase recognition for their organization and the sport. USATF continues to serve as the governing body for the sport. The AAU continues on primarily as a youth sports organization. The RRCA continues to appoint USATF Directors and lobbies for fairness and inclusiveness in that organization. In the 1990s, the RRCA successfully lobbied to lift the requirement of USATF membership as a precondition to competing in major marathons.
The RRCA has promoted women's running, including lobbying for a Women Olympic Games marathon and hosting women-only races. The RRCA has advocated equal prize structures for men and women runners.
Hall of fame
The RRCA American Long Distance Running Hall of Fame was established in 1971. Its members "have made significant contributions to the sport of long distance running either through excellence in the sport or significant contributions to the sport." The first set of inductees was elected in April 1971 at RRCA's 14th annual meeting in Boston, Massachusetts.