Annually, the Distinguished Service Award (DSA) is presented by the Hudson-Mohawk Road Runners Club (HMRRC) to honor club members who have served with distinction for several years or more. This year our club is proud to announce that Brian and Jessica Northan are the winners and they will be celebrated at the Club’s Distinguished Service 8-Mile Race on Sunday, June 12 at 9 a.m. at SUNY Albany. For more information, click here or visit our website.
Jessica and Brian Northan have served the HMRRC as race directors for the Stockade-athon 15k and the Running of the Green for several years. During the pandemic, Brian held the Stockade-athon safely in 2021. Brian has also coordinated the Club’s Grand Prix scoring. Jessica has served as an elected member of the HMRRC Board of Directors, as a Member-at-Large, Vice-President and currently President, as well as a member of the Shrader Scholarship committee.
Brian is in charge of directing two major races for the club: the Stockade-athon and the Running of the Green (ROTG). When he is done with one, preparation on the other begins, which basically means that his work is year long, with no trip to Bermuda or the Alps sandwiched in between.
Managing an entire race means ensuring that every detail must be covered from A to Z and if a letter is missing, the race will suffer or fail for all to witness. Many do not realize the scope of work and dedication that this entails. His wife, our president, Jessica, kindly wrote this to help explain the vast extent of Brian’s commitment to our club and the role she plays in it:
All race directors put in a lot of work securing sponsors, getting permits & insurance, preparing budgets, planning & certifying courses, securing emergency personnel to be on hand race day, recruiting and coordinating volunteers, planning water & refreshments, designing & ordering shirts and awards, organizing registration, planning for race timing, updating race websites, marketing the race via social media and other channels, getting race bills paid, and more I'm probably forgetting (ordering port-o-potties -- definitely don't want to forget those, lol!). There are coordinators and other club volunteers that help with many of these tasks, but it is up to the RD to manage it all. That's A LOT of meeting, emailing and phone calling! Brian fits most of this in at random points during the day because his full-time job has somewhat flexible hours. He has clients in Europe and in California and points in between. With those different time zones and work hours, his day can be full. It's a lot of early morning and evening hours so sometimes midday he is available for the race director meetings and phone calls that I can't do. I help keep track of things and remind him about things, but he really does most of the work. On race week and race day I do more. We're a pretty good team although the extra stress of it does wear on each of us at times.
Brians’ professional programming skills have allowed him to help the club in different ways from race directing that are equally as important. Jim Moore used to score the Grand Prix by hand, meaning he laboriously went through paper membership lists and race results to add up points for racers. Brian developed a program that would search both lists for common names which helped speed up the process. It still takes time to sort the age categories and update the website but not nearly as much time as before. He and Ed Hampston team up to stay on top of that. The implementation of Grand Prix points for volunteers this year has added a hurdle, but they are getting it done. He maintains the Stockade-athon website and developed a comprehensive database of Stockade-athon results from its inaugural year until now. This year we decided we needed to time ROTG ourselves since the race was smaller and hiring a company would not be economically feasible. Ed Neiles had equipment and taught Brian how to use it. He then taught John Parisella, Carol Reardon and me so we could manage that race day and save a couple thousand dollars for the club.
We help out with other races because we're friends with the directors and we know there is a need. It is nice to just go and be a regular course marshal and cheerleader and not have to worry about all the other stuff! When we are in full RD mode, it is hard to socialize. When we go as regular volunteers there is more time for visiting with friends and other runners. Of course, we can do that when we race, too, but it's not feasible to race every weekend or every month really. Volunteering is a great way to stay involved without wearing down the body too much. Or wait, maybe I'm wrong about that. Sometimes I am more tired after volunteering than after running, lol.
We thank Brian and Jessica for the wonderful things they have done and are doing for our club. We are lucky to have them and look forward to honoring them for their devotion to our club.