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OC Tri Running: Building a Community

One Friday morning two years ago I was running my daughter to school in a jogging stroller when I met a man who was marking the streets of Berlin for a road race. I had only been in the area for a few months and was looking for a local running scene, so I stopped and chatted with him. His name was Chris Klebe and we shared a passion: running.

I was training for my second 100 mile race, and he was director of road races for OC Tri Running. I told him I wanted to put on more kids races, more shorter fun runs, to get more of the county’s school kids out running. He told me something that sticks with me to this day. “The family that runs together stays together,” he said.

I’ve thought about that for years. For me running has always been a solitary pursuit, something I do on my own, but something that I could not do without my family. My wife takes care of the kids while I go on long weekend training runs, and she supports me when I spend weekends running through the woods. And then she supports me even more when I return tired and weak from 30 hours of running. Because running, like anything we do, is not something done in a vacuum. We do it together, either with other runners, or at least with the love and support of our family and our friends.

I had the chance to catch up with Chris again last week and talk with him about the Seaside 10 miler. This year’s race, on October 29th, will be the event’s 23rd annual running and the ninth year it’s been led by OC Tri Running, an organization started by Chris and Charlie McClure sixteen years ago.

Started as Extreme Dream Events, OC Tri Running was founded to promote health and fitness for families. “We felt there was a need for more healthy type events in the area,” Chris said when I spoke to him on the phone. The first event they organized was the Dew Trail 100, a metric century bike race through Worcester County. The group, and the events they offered, grew from there. Five years later they changed the name to OC Tri Running to better reflect the types of events Chris organizes—biking, swimming, and running—and the ultimate combination of all three, triathlons.

“We have built a lot of bridges since we started,” Chris said. “Over the last decade I have made a lot of friends, and I have the city behind me all the way. The locals support us, the town supports us, and we have the full support of the local police department and the fire department. Without them these events couldn’t go off. This community really gets involved.”

That’s what makes OC Tri Running such a great organization. They do what they do for the community of Ocean City, and for all of Worcester County.

The Seaside 10 miler is no different. It’s a fun event that OC Tri Running took over from Ocean City several years ago. Since the run takes place at the end of October, Chris transformed it from a beach run into a Halloween themed event—which fits in with the seriousness with which this area takes the ghostly holiday. “People come out dressed in costumes, and they just have fun with it,” Chris said. “The kids from Worcester County Schools come out, too, and cheer on the runners. As a kid I never really got involved like that.”

Teaming up with the Shore Craft Beer Festival seemed another perfect fit. For many runners (this one included) beer and running go hand in hand. Running is a community, and beer has, traditionally, been about bringing people together not just to enjoy a frosty beverage but to build friendships, celebrate victories, and unite neighborhoods and town. OC Tri Running, with Chris at the helm, has done his part to make the community of Ocean City stronger.

I’ll be running the Seaside 10 miler for the first time this year. My costume? Well, since I’ll be pushing a stroller—though this time the stroller will contain my son instead of my daughter—I supposed I’ll be a lion tamer. Keep an eye out for us on the boardwalk in the coming weeks as we train for this fun and family friendly event.

Jeffrey Smith
Jeffrey Smithhttp://www.rustlingreed.com/blog
Jeffrey Smith started writing at fourteen on a Smith-Corona electric typewriter he borrowed from his father. His most recent book, Mesabi Pioneers, tells the story of the immigrants who turned a remote area of northern Minnesota into America's greatest source of iron ore. Jeffrey lives in Berlin with his wife, daughter, and three cats. He can often be seen running along the streets, boardwalks, and trails of the Lower Eastern Shore. That's probably him there, in the orange.

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