asics Greenville Track Club-ELITE - a post-collegiate, Olympic development program
The following article appeared in the January, 2017 Greenville Track Club Newsletter.
Soon after the Greenville Track Club was founded in 1972, Furman graduate Lee Fidler represented the GTC logo as he competed in the USA Olympic Team Marathon Trials in Eugene, Oregon. Then, early members Art Williams and Adrian Craven, were joined by former Furman standouts Dave Cushman and David Branch, Clemson’s Dave Geer and others as they accumulated top honors at races around the South including Atlanta, Birmingham, Mobile, Columbia, etc. Not only were those young men running enthusiasts, but they were very fast, too. The GTC singlet became synonymous with elite distance runners.
Forty years after Fidler competed against the nation’s best marathoners in Eugene, our Greenville Track Club-ELITE program was established. In 2012, some of the GTC founders established the GTC-ELITE project, which is focused on providing an optimal training environment for selected post-collegiate runners to enable them to reach their running goals, including qualifying and competing in USATF national championships and the Olympic Trials.
Four years since the program’s birth, the program has produced some outstanding results and is anticipating even more future success. Last January (2016) four of the nine (at that juncture) ASICS GTC-ELITE athletes qualified for the USATF Olympic Team Trials in the marathon, which was conducted in Los Angeles last February. In 2015 the women’s team finished 8th at the USATF Club Cross Championships in San Francisco, CA. They were led by Dylan Hassett’s fine 15th place finish in a race with over 350 competitors. And last October the women’s team placed 4th in the USA Women’s 10K Championships in Boston, MA.
The GTC-ELITE Mission:
“To develop and maintain an “elite” post-collegiate team for USA citizens in partnership with the Greenville Track Club, which will challenge for national championships, qualification for the US Olympic Trials and top performances in regional and local running competitions, while living and working in the Greenville community and providing inspiration and leadership for the GTC and the local running community.”
In keeping consistent with the program’s mission, ASICS GTC-ELITE athletes have competed in multiple USATF national championships including: 10K, 10-Mile, 20K, Half-Marathon and Marathon. They have also completed in many venues around the nation including: Portland, OR; San Francisco, CA; Des Moines, IA; Northport, NY; Boston, MA; Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN; Duluth, MN; Houston, TX; Las Vegas, NV; Richmond, VA; Philadelphia, PA; Jacksonville, FL; Tallahassee, FL.
The athletes also regularly compete locally and have won GTC events such as the Greenville News Run Downtown (5 times), TD Bank Reedy River Run, Green Valley 10-Mile, Michelin 5K (7x), BMW Classic, Sunrise 8K, and the Spinx RunFest 5K (5 x).
The current roster consists of :
In the past four years, GTC-ELITE has attracted and supported multiple NCAA All Americans, including Kimberly Ruck, Ricky Flynn, Shawnee Carnett, Dylan Doss, Kate Dodds and Austin Steagall, with both Flynn and Carnett having previously won NCAA National Championships.
Part of the mission, “while living and working in the Greenville community and providing inspiration and leadership for the GTC and the local running community,” has been developing with the assistance of local businesses. ScanSource stepped forward very early in the program and adopted Alison Parris as part of the “Adopt an Athlete” program. With excellent support from their senior management, they have provided Alison with part-time employment and also made corporate financial contributions to the program. Greenville Health System also contributed from the early days and adopted two GTC athletes, providing both employment and financial contributions. Joy Real Estate came on board last year and adopted Mark Leininger. In addition, the TD Bank Foundation also provided funding and local running specialty shops Run In and Fleet Feet provided employment to various GTC-ELITE athletes.
A large part of the program’s past and future success is dependent upon other unique partnerships. Brad McKay’s group at Performance Therapy have provided excellent physical therapy and Active Release Therapy and Michael Shride’s chiropractic expertise at Carolina Spine and Rehab has been instrumental. Dr. Kent Kurfman’s meticulous gait analysis and prescriptive recommendations, at the ATI Running Academy, complete this triangle of resources.
On the equipment side, international footwear and apparel leader ASICS has provided their excellent product that allows the athletes to train over multiple surfaces and in all types of weather conditions. Soleus running watches and Boston Bill Sunglasses have both supported the program from the initial days.
On the innovative side, during the past year Roll Recovery assisted with their excellent recovery products and recently NormaTec has partnered with their recovery boots. And ElliptiGO’s unique cycles have been extremely valuable in providing supplemental cross training that closely mimics actual running.
GTC-ELITE is also sponsored by some of the members of the Bare Minimum Track Club and other very generous individual contributors in addition to the support provided by the parent Greenville Track Club. As the GTC approaches its 45th anniversary, the GTC-ELITE program has helped make the club visible throughout the USA.