2013 RunPro Camp Review
Fourteen up-and-coming distance runners, who recently graduated from universities throughout the country, were selected to attend the second RunPro Camp hosted by the RRCA in Arlington, Virginia on July 18-21.
The RunPro Camp, which was held for the first time in 2011 in Minneapolis, is designed specifically for athletes who are interested in pursuing a professional running career. Selection to the camp was based on an application process, with most athletes being NCAA qualifiers and competing in distances ranging from the 800 meters up through the 10,000 meters as well as in cross country.
The interactive camp provided a forum for runners to meet coaches and athletes from professional training centers around the US, learn about sponsorship requirements, determine what type of representation would be best, find out about USA Track & Field resources and long distance running initiatives plus anti-doping compliance, as well as discuss how to work with the media and how to seek both financial and health support.
An excellent line-up of speakers for the RunPro Camp outlined the importance of the information shared through the effort. The Camp kicked off with a welcome dinner featuring 2008 Olympian, Amy Begley, who spoke about lessons learned as a professional runner and the Olympic experience. Roads Scholar grant recipients from 2012, Scott Bauhs and Jon Grey, joined her. USA Track & Field and USA Track & Field Foundation sponsored the dinner.
Scott Simmons from the USA Distance Project opened the education program for the camp by providing an overview of professional distance running. Simmons retired from collegiate coaching in January of 2012 after more than 20-years to pursue full-time his ongoing efforts with the American Distance Project. His collegiate tenure saw not only successes at the NAIA and NCAA levels, but also on both the US and international stages, as well. Simmons holds a Master’s Degree in Sports Science from the United States Sports Academy, has twice been selected as a Team USA national team leader and is a noted lecturer and co-author of the book Take The Lead: A Revolutionary Approach To Coaching Cross Country.
Athlete representatives from both TEAM USA Minnesota and Zap Fitness discussed their experiences with joining a distance training center, and they also highlight how the RRCA’s Roads Scholar grant played an important role in staying in the sport.
Other topics covered at the camp included Drug Testing, Awareness and Compliance presented by Jennifer Dodd, Olympic Education Manager from USADA. Luke Watson, who recently completed his Ph.D. in Accounting at Penn State University, gave a very informative talk about tax issues related to running as a profession versus as hobby and how those distinctions apply to young elite runners. In 2012, Luke retired from a successful running career that saw him compete in a variety of distances from the mile to the marathon, highlighted by appearances in 3 U.S. Olympic Trials.
The following invited athletes had finished their collegiate careers as of June 2013 and show good potential for moving on to the next level. The RRCA provided travel and lodging grants so the athletes could attend the camp free of charge. We look forward to watching their careers in the coming years.
Eric Finan – University of Cincinnati
Michael Heller – Kent State University
Meghan Nelson – Iowa State University
Jonathan Peterson – University of California Davis
Gabriel Proctor – Western Colorado State University
Cydney Ross – Duke University
Ben Sathre – University of St. Thomas
Danielle Stack – Iowa State University
Gina Valgoi – Loyola University
Amanda Winslow – Florida State University
Kristen Findley – Vanderbilt University
Cate Westenhover – Baylor University
Lara Crofford – Shippensburg University
Lauren Kleppin – Western State Univ. of Colorado
An important element of the Camp was to also emphasis the point that the RunPro.com website is to be the go-to resource to assist promising young distance runners in making the transition from collegiate to professional running. The mission for the website is to provide athletes with a comprehensive overview of what it takes and what is involved in becoming a professional distance runner - competing on the track, the roads and in cross country.