The Nittany Valley Running Club is the current name of a running Club that has been kicking for 41 years. A big part of that history was in attendance at the regular meeting. Part of the meeting would be devoted to honoring George Etzweiler, who turned 90 last month, and who still actively represents the Club at races, and who continually garners age group records in various races nationally. Club officers Jerry Steffy, Dave Eggler, and Marty Mazur, were there. But so were members of earlier and later generations of runners, including Mike Casper and his 4 year-old son Evan, Michelle Hutnik, Costas Maranas and his daughters, Kathy Koetje-Simin, Pam Scott and her son, Dave DeGroote, Elijah Shekinah, Anna Shamey, John and Chloe Schmidt, Mark Fedkin, Kim Gasper, Elizabeth Desser, Tara Murray, Todd Baney, Andrew Kroeckel, and Denise Weaver. But there were some charter members, including Penn State's retired running coach Harry Groves, who was there to honor the NVRC's oldest member. And ome of the members of George's Tussey mOUNTaiNBACK team, the Old Men of the Mountains, all at least 65 years old, were there: Ed Keller and Tom Huntley and their wives, and Jim Vogelsong.

Before getting to the birthdays festivities, the Club attended to some business. First, Marty introduced Chloe Schmidt. Chloe is the daughter of John Schmidt. John started the Nittany Track and Field Youth Club 5 years ago on arriving in State College from Manhattan, Kansas. The Club introduces kids from ages 5 to 14 to the running sports. The NVRC supports Nittany Track and Field with an annual sponsorship grant to help defray the Club's costs. His daughter Chloe was one of the early prodigies of that Club. Chloe has been running for State High now for nearly 3 years and has achieved great things. Most recently, Chloe has competed and placed highly at the State Indoor Track Championships and at the Nike Invitational, where she finished 3rd in the 800. The Club has given her some support to defray her costs going to meets. Chloe came to the meeting to give the Club a report on her running exploits and to thank us for our support. We thanked her in turn for being such a great representative of running and of our Club.

Several Club races are in need of support. The Jeremy Herbstritt Memorial 5K on April 16 needs runners and course help. Contact Elizabeth Desser if you can help. Kim Gasper needs someone to time the Dog Jog 5K on May 8, and needs help with the Red Raider Rally Run for kids on May 22. Kim also reminded us that the NVRC teams running the Boston Marathon to support CVIM need you to start pledging your donations. The race is a week from Monday. Mike Casper could use someone to time the Linden Loop 5 Miler on May 2. Andrew Kroeckel has taken over the Law School's 5K, the Race Judicata, from Dave Rasmussen, who graduates  in May. The race will be October 2. Andrew was at the meeting to get some advice about the race.'

At the end of April, the NVRC will be hosting Lisa Smith-Batchen, a world-class ultramarathoner. Lisa is running 50 miles in every one of the 50 states over the next two months. She'll be doing her 50 in State College with her running companion, Sister Mary Beth Lloyd. The pair is trying to raise over $1 million to help support some orphanages in Haiti, Africa, Indonesia, South America, and the US. Elizabeth Dresser is coordinating Lisa's visit along with Sherry Tirko. Marty Mazur helped Elizabeth and Sherry design a 5-mile course on campus that Lisa will run 10 times. Details of the event will be posted on the web site soon. The Club and Lisa can use the help of Club members: runners to accompany Lisa on sections of her run, cheerleaders, and contributors to the cause!

The Wahoo Beginners Running Group is off and running. Every Tuesday from now through the early Fall, Jerry Steffy will be training the latest group with hopes of growing the group. If past years are any indication, many in this group will soon be training for a marathon! The schedule is online.

Preparations for the Arts Festival races are proceeding apace. The courses are the same as last year with one big exception. Pam Scott will be coordinating the Kids Races this year. The 5K will be have the same start and finish as last year but for logistical reasons will run the Curtin-Shortlidge-Pollock-Burrowes loop in the opposite direction from last year (down Burrowes early on, up Shortlidge near the end). The map is posted on the Arts Fest Race web pages.

After business, pizza, and beer, it was time to wish George Etzweiler happy birthday. There were plenty of stories told by George's friends, including the master story-teller himself, Harry Groves. And then it was George's turn. He recalled the early says of the Club, going back all the way to 1969, when even Harry was a young man! But George was 49 when he started with us! Mike Casper presented George with a plaque, and then we sang him Happy Birthday. Mike and Marty even sang "Sto Lat", the Polish birthday song. That means "100 Years", a wish for longevity that seems to be a bit stingy for George. Mike had gotten a cake with the NVTC (old) and NVRC (new) logos on it. Plenty of frosting to go around!

George Etzweiler's 90th Birthday Party

        Photos by Marty Mazur.
Next Meeting: June 1.