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Track Club turns 50

Patrick Sullivan - June 20th, 2011
There must be something about the sport of running.
In 50 years the Traverse City Track Club has had three presidents and all
of them are still alive.
George Kuhn, the club’s first president, won’t guarantee running leads to
a long life.
“That we’re still alive is that we’re lucky, I’m not sure that it’s the
running,” Kuhn said. “I know that whenever I’ve had a medical issue,
having run all my life really paid off.”
The track club celebrates its 50th anniversary this summer.
Kuhn started the track club in 1961 with like-minded runners because there
were no road races in the area.
“I found some guys who also wanted to run some races so we organized and
set up races,” he said.
In those first years, it was guys. Kuhn estimates it was the 1970s before
a woman joined the group.

NORTHERN STRIDERS
The track club was modeled after a club called the Motor City Striders
which was founded in 1959 in Detroit, where Kuhn had worked before he
moved to Traverse City.
In TC Kuhn taught math and physics at Northwestern Michigan College and
managed the computer center for the Traverse Bay Area Intermediate School
District.
Kuhn has not been able to run since a hip replacement 14 years ago. Now he
walks, bikes and cross-country skis.
“I figure I had about 45 years of running in before that happened,” Kuhn
said. “For me it was important that there were other things that I could
do.”
Kuhn may no longer run, but he remains a part of the club.
“He’s kind of the godfather of the club. It’s nice to have him around,”
said Karen Wells, current president. “He started this just to get runners
together, you know, back in 1961, running wasn’t that popular.”

FORMIDABLE FORCE
The track club has transformed from an almost informal group of runners to
a formidable charity in the region, thanks to the success of the Bayshore
Marathon, which will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year.
With funds raised from the Bayshore, the track club last year was able to
give away $92,000 to area track and field programs. A year earlier they
gave $86,000, Wells said.
The club helped pay for an impressive brick entrance to the track at TC
Central High School. The building serves as storage for the track club and
a concessions area for events.
“It’s a step up in a huge way from the shed,” Wells said.
The club’s original mission, those summer evening runs, are also still
going strong.
Back in 1961, each run cost 25 cents. Today they cost $1 per run, or $10
for 10 runs and a track club t-shirt.
Runners meet at 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays, usually at the entrance to the TC
Central track, for a variety of runs. A schedule can be found at the
club’s website.
On Aug. 17, the last run of the summer series, there will be a 5k or 2.5k
trail run at Mt. Holiday with a celebration afterward which will include
all of the track club’s presidents.

For more on the club see
www.tctrackclub.com.
 
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