As the CRC celebrates a decade and a half of involvement in the Columbus running & walking community, we're filled with gratitude that so many of you have shared the miles with us over the years. Thank you.
Here, over the course of the month of July, we're sharing the voices of 15 runners and walkers who have inspired us, guided us, and made this community so incredible for everyone involved. Check back every other day as we add another story to the never-ending thread of our community - with the most recent story at the top and the others remaining in a chain below.
RACHAEL DELEON, LAURA JURCEVICH, & LIZ TRAPP
Throughout July, we've been featuring the stories of runners and walkers from our community. Over the past 15 years of CRC group runs, training programs, and races, we've been fortunate to share the miles with so many incredible individuals. Thank you all. We could have featured another 15,000 individuals and we still would have felt like we hadn't included everyone. You make up an amazing community.
For our final profile, we're turning to the centers of our own families, our wives.
The CRC is co-owned and operated by three of the luckiest guys around - and we can say that thanks to the love and support of Rachael, Laura, and Liz. The three of you have worked in the shops, helped at the races, run along with the training programs, and been a central pillar to everything that we've done and continue to do. Words can never express how grateful we are for everything. Thank you.
In Rachael’s own words:
It’s hard to believe it’s been 15 years.
I’ve known Eric and Matt for more than half my life. We met on the steps of the Lilly Center at DePauw University at 18 years old, where we had arrived early for our first season of collegiate cross country. At the time, I couldn’t tell the two of them apart – little did I know that one would become a lifelong friend, and the other, my husband.
I was fortunate to see CRC go from a conversation to a business plan to a reality. I fondly remember those early years, in our early 20’s, when it was “all hands on deck”. We spent countless weekends at local high school cross country races passing out CRC flyers. When the store timed races, I helped tear tags in the finish chute. If they were short staffed, I worked the floor. And when Matt and Eric won a trip to Amsterdam to run the marathon, it was family that stepped in to keep the store running business as usual.
From the beginning, building community was at the core of the CRC business plan, but the store has built more than a community – they have built a family. Through CRC, I, like many others, fell in love with running again. I learned the incredible value of a long run. The joy of spending countless hours out on the roads, followed by even more hours in the store drinking coffee and telling stories. Through CRC, I’ve seen strangers become lifelong friends. I’ve seen road trips, weddings, births, and even great loss. And, as community, we have supported one another through it all.
This July, I got to see my own kids run the Mile Dash in celebration of the long hours and labor of love that Matt, Eric, and Jim have poured into not one store, but four. And I think back to that original Mile Dash – with Matt’s younger brother toting runners to the starting line in the big store truck (the same truck that later transported Matt and I from our wedding ceremony to our reception) and our very first store customer racing in a sumo wrestler costume, and I feel very blessed. The journey hasn’t always been easy, but just like a marathon, it’s been incredibly rewarding. I’m excited to see what the next 15 years will bring.
In Laura’s own words:
Support, community, and family. That is what the Columbus Running Company has meant to me.
I started running when the Pickerington store opened in 2006. Two ladies who had never run before wanted to run a 5k. In order to support the new store and the training program, I joined them. Jim, always the motivator, convinced us to do a half marathon instead, which we did!
From then, I have been lucky enough to meet some amazing friends and realize the supportive nature of the running and walking community. I have seen friendships grow and strengthen and go beyond running and central Ohio. I have seen weddings between those who met through running. I have seen girls night watching remakes of our favorite 90’s shows become a mother’s club. I have seen pain through the loss of loved ones. I have seen struggles when dealing with injuries. Through all of this, I have seen the support this community has given each other along the way.
In that sense, the CRC has created a family. For this, I thank Matt, Eric, Jim, and their vision to build more than just a business but a community where friendships and families are created. Thank you.
And in Liz’s own words:
It's hard to describe what celebrating the 15th anniversary of CRC means to me. I walked into the store when it was around 2 years old and they had just opened their Pickerington location (then, affectionately referred to as 'Pink' because of the purple walls and pink carpet left over from the previous tenants). 13 years later, my family and some of my greatest friendships have blossomed from the CRC.
I married Eric 8 years ago, and our wedding was one of the most beautiful moments of the store coming together. Matt married us. Rachael, Jim, and Laura all played important roles in our special day. CRC manager Mike's band played at our wedding. I even met Paige, my maid of honor, at Saturday morning runs.
Watching the CRC grow, and Eric's dedication and pure love for the store has taught me the meaning of passion, dedication, and cultivating a true love for what you do. Balancing CRC life with family isn't always easy. There are a fair share of late nights, early mornings, and now that our family has started I rarely attend a Saturday morning group run or a CRC race. But none of that seems to matter, because what would our lives be without the CRC?
Over the past 15 years, CRC has been lucky enough to play a part in some amazing runner stories. One of our favorites? That would be the story of Rachel Weber.
Rachel first came into the CRC as an elementary school soccer star, but she soon discovered running - and the combo of her innate talents and her inner drive led her to be a star at Dublin Coffman High School. From there, Rachel earned a spot on The Ohio State University's track and cross country teams. (And yes, Rachel would insist that we spell out The Ohio State University in full, including that capital The.)
It has been an absolute thrill to watch that precocious 4th grader grow into a running legend, taking down OSU school records, running at NCAA championships, and even qualifying to USATF nationals in the 800m. Rachel has gone on to work at CRC, run for CRC Elite, and leave her mark on our running community with her infectious smile and relentlessly positive attitude. We can't wait to see what comes next.
Thanks for running with us Rachel.
In Rachel's own words:
I bought my first pair of running shoes from CRC when I was in the 4th grade. They have been constant and loyal supporters for me ever since. Whether I was running into the store to purchase spikes just hours before my races in high school because I had lost my spikes (again), experiencing some of the highest of highs running in a Buckeye uniform in college, or getting to make the transition from a collegiate to post collegiate athlete, CRC has been there with me every step of the way.
CRC has been with me through all of my highs and all of my lows. They have supported every dream I have had both as an athlete and as a person. I’ve shared so many special memories with them, and I can’t wait for the many more memories to come. The love that CRC has for ALL people makes my heart explode with joy.
CRC, from the bottom of my heart, I would love to wish you a happy 15th Birthday. You have impacted my life more that you could ever possibly know. Keep on keepin' on. I love getting to represent you.
The mystique of the sub-4 minute mile never fades. Four laps. Sub-60 seconds for each. The perfect blend of fast twitch muscle fibers and sheer endurance. The first time that Jake Edwards ran a sub-4 minute mile in a CRC singlet was one of the most exciting moments in CRC Elite's history.
Jake ran locally for Delaware Hayes where he won the 1600m at the Ohio state meet his senior year. After that, he ran for Ohio State, working part-time at the CRC. While most milers hang up their spikes after their collegiate days, Jake has continued to grind away at his training - and it has paid off. Now in his early 30s, he's running PRs, winning big races like the Drake Relays mile, and qualifying for USATF nationals.
Thanks for inspiring us over the years, Jake. And good luck at USATFs this weekend.
In Jake's own words:
This is where we would normally put a quote from Jake, like we've done with our other Voices From the Pack. But Jake is racing at USATF nationals this weekend. We're talking about the most prestigious track meet in America. He'll be facing off against the top milers in the U.S., including the defending Olympic champion. We couldn't settle for just a few words. Instead, we put together an entire post where we catch up with Jake, learn about his recent racing successes, and take a look at what's coming next for the star miler. Check it all out at https://columbusrunning.com/blogs/news/jakeedwards
COACH KORI STOFFREGEN
CRC was dreamt up during countless long runs at DePauw University, all thanks to the legendary Coach Kori Stoffregen. As we look back on the first 15 years of CRC, it all starts here.
CRC co-founders Matt & Eric met at DePauw after being recruited to run by Coach. The idea of building a running community around a store in Matt's hometown of Columbus seemed like a pipe dream in those earliest days. 15 years after opening, that dream is a reality that we get to live everyday.
Oh, and about that pic above. A conference championship on the track can only be celebrated in one way - throwing the coach into the steeple pit. Thanks for giving us plenty of opportunities to send you flying, Coach - and thanks for being there from the beginning to help launch this whole crazy running store dream.
(Want to check out those tiger-stripe-wearing DPU Tigers? Of course you do. Just click here.)
(Also want to know what Jim, the third CRC co-owner, was up to while Matt & Eric were running around Greencastle, Indiana? He was busy winning Big 10 titles & All American honors at Michigan State and racing the Olympic Trials for Hanson's. But secretly, he was waiting for that moment to launch into the CRC full throttle.)
In Coach's own words:
Congratulations to Matt and Eric on 15 great years of CRC! I was fortunate enough to coach Matt and Eric while they were at DePauw. Their work ethic and passion for running put DePauw cross country on the map. That same effort is why CRC is such an outstanding company. It was so fun to watch them dream, plan, gather money, and actually get a store going.
My favorite CRC story is their first company vehicle “Bess”. My wife Stacie and I saw an old bread truck for sale in Brazil, IN. I called Eric and told him they should have a truck for their new company. So a few days later and with cash in hand, Eric and I went back to Brazil and brought home Bess. Former DePauw teammate Johanna Fickenscher created the logo that was applied and Bess was ready to go. Thankfully they have made a few upgrades since.
My teams at DePauw are still connected to CRC. We have had several athletes intern at CRC. Matt and Eric always attend the DePauw Indoor Invitational and speak to our campers at the summer DePauw Cross Country Camp.
We are so proud of Matt and Eric! Thanks for your continued friendship.
Walking or running can be so rewarding on its own - but it's possible to make those miles about something even greater than just ourselves. CRC's charity training program, Love2Reach (L2R), was built on that idea, and the program has supported local charities ranging from the Special Olympics to Ronald McDonald House and a whole lot more. At the center of it each year has been a core of coaches, including Kim Daniel.
Kim co-founded L2R in 2013 and continues to lead the program's fundraisers to this day. On top of that, she has developed into one of the top walkers in Ohio, cruising her way to some incredibly strong finishes. From winning the women's walk division in the half marathon at the 2016 Columbus Marathon to winning the OVERALL walking titles at the 2016 Adams County Half and 2019 Medina Half, she's made a name for herself at the top levels of Ohio race walking - and she's done it while supporting causes near & dear to our hearts.
Thanks for walking with us, Kim - and thanks for making it about more than just the miles.
In Kim's own words:
I've never been a runner. All through my school years, I hated running unless I had a basketball in my hand. I've always told people "if you see me running, you should too because something is chasing me!" I'm also not a morning person either so the thought of waking up at 6am or even earlier on race days never appealed to me.
You might be wondering how I became involved with CRC if I hate running so much. Well, since college, I had been involved in different causes especially programs that helped to bring awareness to different types of cancer. In 2010, I joined an endurance sports training program in an effort to meet new people, stay active and that group also fundraised for a cause, blood cancers. The group had a walkers program so I didn't have to pick up running either! Through that program I have met so many amazing and inspiring people who had the same passion that I did. I'll admit there have been plenty of times when I wanted to sleep in rather than go out and do miles. During training when I wanted to stop because it was too hot or I was just tired, it was during those moments, I would remember different quotes that my friends have said in the past: "We don't HAVE to do this. We GET to do this"; "Because they can't, we must!" and (related to half marathons) "First 5 miles with your head, second 5 miles with your legs and last 3.1 with your heart."
Fast forward to 2013, 6 of my friends and I were approached by CRC to start a charity group under their charity fund. It was a grassroots training program so we had to come up with a name, logo, mission, even the color of our shirts. Within a couple months Love2Reach (L2R) was "born." Our mission is to "create positive changed in the greater Columbus, Ohio area through the power of healthy living through exercises." Every year we partner up with a local charity and throughout the season we train and fundraise with 100% of the funds going toward our chosen charity. L2R went from 49 participants in our inaugural year to having 84 participants this year. In the past 6 years we, as a team have raised over $162,500 for different local charities. This would not have been at all possible without CRC! CRC not only inspires athletes but also gives back to the community. Thanks CRC for all that you do! Happy 15th Anniversary!
From day 1, CRC has believed in supporting all levels of our sport - from the beginners who bring such excitement to running & walking to the elites who inspire us all.
Josh Ordway was an original member of CRC Elite, joining way back when it was impressively called “The Store Team.” We’ve come a long way since, and Josh has played a key role in adding the Elite to CRC Elite.
Josh was one of CRC’s two original Olympic Trials qualifiers in the marathon, racing the trials in New York City in 2007 and again in Houston in 2012. Since then, CRC Elite has continued the tradition established by Josh, qualifying athletes into the Olympic Trials four Olympic cycles in a row. Although Dr. Ordway now practices medicine in the Dayton area, we still see him lighting up road race results throughout Ohio. Thanks for inspiring us for a decade and a half, Josh!
(Want to experience the Olympic Trials for yourself? CRC is traveling to Atlanta in February to watch the 2020 Olympic Trials Marathon, and you're invited. Details here!)
In Josh’s own words:
I linked up with the CRC in 2005 as a newly post-collegiate road racer who was just seeing what could happen if you continued to race competitively after college. I have to admit that I was a little skeptical of these guys, Eric and Matt, who were my age and asked me to run in their singlet after a Capital City 1/2 victory that year. I figured I didn't have anything to lose, though, and little did I know that that decision transformed me into the runner I am today.
Meeting my childhood hero and future CRC co-owner Jim Jurcevich was also a key component to my running development. We started training together after racing against one another a couple of times, and he not only showed me what it was like to train and race competitively, but also took me to races with him and opened up his home to me when needed.
Eventually a small group of us started group runs from the Dublin store (since that was the only store that existed at the time!) and began having informal social gatherings. This was huge, as it mirrored that addictive college running atmosphere that lends itself to fast times and lifelong relationships.
Without all of the gear, wisdom, and support of the CRC, I never would have qualified for an Olympic marathon trials, let alone two. I wish medical school hadn't taken me away from Columbus, but I'll always be a part of the CRC and will forever be grateful for their hand in my post-collegiate success.
Community. It’s about supporting one another through the good days - and the toughest of days.
Eugene began running with us in the earliest days of the CRC, appearing at the first anniversary party (where he earned the nickname Project A, which you'll just have to guess at) and sticking around to log countless miles with us. From the highs of his Ironman finish to the lows of personal loss, the CRC community has been there to share in all of it with our friend. Thank you for running with us and more, Eugene.
In Eugene’s own words:
I discovered the Columbus Running Company when it was just the one store and a box truck that mostly worked. I knew early on that the CRC was a profoundly special group. Over the past 15 years, I’ve celebrated countless Mile Dashes, weddings, and graduations with the community that has formed around the CRC. Visiting runners from out of town would always comment how close the running group was, but it took a tragedy to demonstrate how important the community was to each other.
I lost my wife, Lanlin, due to a traumatic brain injury sustained while competing in the Musselman triathlon. It was a huge shock, but the outpouring of affection and kindness from the CRC was not. They checked up on me and looked after me. I’m fairly certain at least 4 people independently took it upon themselves to mow my lawn while I was at the hospital with my wife.
The following year, over a dozen runners from the running group and even more supporters made their way to Musselman. They raced in her memory, nearly all of them racing in a triathlon for the first time. My wife would have loved her friends and family coming to support each other in such a loving way.
I relocated to Boston a few years ago, but I still visit the CRC every time I come to visit family. They are an important part of my life and I look forward to another 15 years and celebrating their 30th anniversary.
There’s a legend amongst us. His name is Tim Mitchell.
Tim has been running with the CRC for close to a decade, and he’s been through the highs of big marathon finishes - and the lows of big injury. After falling off a ladder at home, things looked bleak. See that X-ray? That’s his foot, complete with plenty of added hardware. But with the grit of a true runner, Tim didn’t take no for an answer when it looked like he would never run again. He continues to log the miles and inspire us all to this day. Thanks for the miles, Tim - and thanks for all the stories.
In Tim’s own words, excerpted from a feature he wrote for the old CBUS Pacers club newsletter years ago:
In December of 2010, I decided to take up running again. On one cold December night, I tore out of the house, wearing a winter coat, determined to knock out a couple of miles. I couldn't even get to the end of the block (8 houses). I decided to exercise patience and just worked on a walk/run routine for the winter. Eventually, I could run (slowly, as is my style) 2 miles. After that, I was on my way.
I caught the bug and trained for a few half marathons. That led to marathons, which have been more of a struggle than I had thought. Throughout the whole ordeal, the kindness and cheerfulness and acceptance of other runners (all of whom are faster than I am) has been a sustaining presence.
So why do I do it? The reasons are complex and varied. I will try to explain the hardest (and best) reason. Here goes: When you are young, you have a minimal impression of the gift of youth. After all, what is your frame of reference? You've always been young. When you get old, you miss being young. But truly, the thing you miss about being young is not physical. It's the spirit, the optimism, the fearlessness, happiness, and sheer joy of life. Sometimes, when I run, especially with my Ipod, it's 1970 again. As God is my witness, I get just a taste of youth again. It's wonderful, uplifting, and worth every bit of pain, even if I have to use that cane someday.
The staff who have worked alongside us at the CRC over the years have made a massive stamp both on the CRC itself and on our run & walk community. One of the deepest impressions was left by a runner who led the CRC as a manager, raced with CRC Elite, fundraised with L2R, spoke at our XC camps, and found ways to involve herself in every aspect of our community. We’re talking, of course, about Stephanie Hillman.
Today, Steph continues to climb the ladder within the running industry, working at Hoka One One corporate HQ in California. Though far away now, her presence and hard work still make CRC what it is today. To Steph - and all of our former staffers who built CRC into what it is today - thank you.
In Steph’s own words:
CRC has been a special place to me since I was first introduced through the CRC Elite racing team upon coming out of college and moving back to Columbus. I felt a bit anxious and unsure of what running would be for me after college running, where I had been spending so much time thinking only about races, workouts, school and training. I heard about how welcoming CRC staff was from folks around the city, and got my first real community experience at Columbus 10k right off the bat - still one of my favorite road races to date!
I began joining weekly runs and Saturday long runs in Dublin immediately after the race. Running with a great group of guys and gals quickly led to me even finding my way into a job at CRC and essentially an entire family I never knew I needed. The support and friendships have made a big mark on who I am as a person to this day. Even though I live in California now, CRC has a very special place on my heart!
Since Taylor Gleaves moved to Columbus, he’s been a regular at the Short North group runs - and that training consistency has been paying off.
Along with a core group of runners in the Short North, he’s seen those times drop. Just as rewarding, he’s found a community that he can rely on day-in and day-out. Thanks for running with us, Taylor.
In Taylor’s own words:
Before moving to Columbus and finding CRC I did almost all of my training alone. Today I can find someone to run with just about any day of the week. To me, CRC means camaraderie and a competitive atmosphere where we all improve together. A rising tide lifts all boats!
I am lucky to have found CRC. I'm a little injured at the moment but I still have my eye on a potential CRC elite spot after some more hard training going forward!
ALYSSA & JAMIE HART
When CRC opened in 2004, we were excited about the possibilities for building up the local running & walking community. One thing we didn’t expect? All the weddings.
Close friendships are built on the run, and sometimes those friendships have blossomed into something even greater. Alyssa & Jamie met at a summer run years ago. When they join us for runs nowadays, they’re often pushing their babyjogger. Thanks for being part of our family you two - and thanks for sharing yours with us.
In Alyssa & Jamie’s own words:
In 2013, Jamie rediscovered running, and Alyssa started running after moving to Columbus, and both quickly found CRC’s Saturday morning group runs. We met the following summer at a CRC run at Highbanks.
Besides being the reason our family exists, CRC has given us the opportunity to share miles with other runners that we now consider part of our family. There are no words to describe the connections we’ve made through CRC, from our everyday miles, to important life events; CRC friends made the trip to Disney for our wedding (even our officiant was someone we met at Saturday morning group runs!), and had a baby shower for us when I was pregnant with our daughter.
Columbus Running Company is so much more than just a running store; it has been our friend, our sanity, our accountability, and most importantly the place where all are our family.
The Grasshoppers is CRC’s youth running club, and it's been a thrill to watch the next generation of runners come through the ranks of the program.
Hundreds of young runners take part each year. One runner who has always stood out in our mind, though, is Abby Wells. Abby showed us that grit, hard work, and determination are the keys to improving as a runner - but she kept it fun too. At one moment, Abby could be racing furiously down the backstretch of the track. In the next, she could be making ridiculous faces at the camera as she posed with her teammates at the finish line.
A multi-time team MVP, Abby led the Grasshoppers through 5th and 6th grade before graduating up to middle school XC. After stints with the CRCXC Camp and the Myers Running Camp, she’s now set to begin her freshman year on the Olentangy Orange XC team. We can’t wait to see where her running goes over the next four years - and more.
Good luck, Abby!
In Abby's own words:
Columbus Running Company’s Grasshoppers has made such an impact on my life and my career in running. I started in fifth grade where I learned so many things to help me become a stronger runner, and met so many friends along the way. Now as a freshman, I can say how impactful being a part of that team was. Grasshoppers built a sense of community within running for me, so now when I go to running events I almost always know people that I have met through the program and become great friends with.
I met some of my very best friends while being on the team and they are still my closest friends to this day. Not only have my teammates been amazing but the coaches were just as great. I knew that they would be there for me whenever I needed it and that they would give me advice I could bring with me for years into the future. I have grown so much stronger as a runner and a person from being a part of CRC Grasshoppers, and I couldn’t imagine where I would be without them today.
Every running & walking group needs that excited newcomer who brings the energy & excitement of a first-timer. Katie Melton brought that hype when she joined up with CRC’s Pickerington group run and with MRTT. Since 2017, she’s gone from an aspiring first-time 5ker to a half marathon finisher to a marathoner-on-the-cusp. It’s been amazing to watch that progression, and her enthusiasm has been contagious.
Thanks for sharing the miles with us, Katie.
In Katie's own words:
I started training for my first 5k in 2017 and since I was new to running, the training was tough. So, with my father-in-law taking me to my first trip to Pickerington's CRC, I got fitted for new shoes, and I haven't stopped running since then!
In the past two years, I have met so many people in the running community including Columbus MRTT members (especially my east-side girls), the Saturday morning CRC group runners and walkers who won't let you get lost, and those I have volunteered at races with. All of these people have inspired me and have kept me moving forward.
From my first 5k's to my first half marathon last year to my first full Columbus Marathon this year, I wouldn't feel as strong and confident without everyone I have met along the way. The Columbus running community is, by far, the most supportive, encouraging, and loving group of athletes I have ever met and I cannot wait to continue my training and meet even more amazing people!
You want to talk about someone who is at the center of the local running & walking community? Maclin Williams founded the Columbus chapter of the Black Men Run club. He sits on the board of Let Me Run, a youth-based club that inspires boys through the power of running to be courageous enough to be themselves, to build healthy relationships, and to live an active lifestyle. He’s a member of the Columbus Westside Running Club.
In short, he’s everywhere - and on the run the entire time. Thank you, Maclin, for all that you do to boost our community.
In Maclin's own words:
I first picked up distance running when I was in Miami, FL in order to recover from a heart procedure I went through to fix a defect with which I was born. There was a running store called the Florida Running Company within walking distance to my house that got me started and showed me the ropes. That store couldn't have been a better introduction to the running community, from the workers at the store to the people that participated in the group runs. I made lifetime friends there. When I moved to Columbus for work in 2012, I looked up a running store and came across the Columbus Running Company, which struck my eye for obvious reasons. Even though I found out there was no true connection between the two stores, when I went on my first group run at the Pickerington store, I was welcomed with open arms.
The Columbus Running Company has been my store of choice ever since those first group runs. The knowledge and professionalism of the staff, no matter which store, has been a great benefit for my running career. From the shoes, to the apparel, to the running clinics they are always putting on, they are there to support all phases of your running journey.
I started the Columbus Chapter of Black Men Run in 2016 and the Columbus Running Company has been right there for us since before day one. They understand the mission of health and wellness that local running clubs like ours bring to the area. Just like the store where my running career started, the Columbus Running Company has been a place where I've made lifelong friends, who have been instrumental to me not only in my running journey but in my life in general. You couldn't ask for anything more from a running store. They put on some of the best races in the city, support clubs from the Westside to the Eastside, and do their part in adding to the diversity of the local running community. When a running store can go from treating you like a customer to treating you like family, you know you've found a home for life.
Thank you CRC.