Tim Butler says he understood the importance of following a program for his running and in 1999 joined a group including Bob Schwarz, Trudi Moore and Tim Grace. They would meet at the Y or Bob’s house on Bates in Springfield, getting up at 4am to run.
The move from participant to volunteer/organizer was made when John Hartnett and Jay Rogers decided to step down from the directorship of Abe’s Amble. After some discussion, he decided directing the Amble might be a good experience. “Joe Thiel and I kind of raised our hands at the same time,” says Tim, “not knowing what we were getting into, to help with the Amble.” It was the club’s largest race at that time.
Tim felt the SRRC could readily build a race with over 1000 participants. That is a goal that was realized times 2, and Abe’s is now joined by the Lincoln Presidential Half Marathon on the club’s point series calendar, both now regularly pull in over 1000 runners every year.
It was also apparent to Tim and Joe that an organized training program would be a natural way to help grow Amble registrations. He came up with the name Abe’s Army and they were off! Tim credits mentors like Phillip Lockwood and Glen Lattimer of famed Peoria Steamboat fame for providing direction and a successful model for the Army. Tim and Joe hoped for 25 people the first year and got 66.
According to Tim, some of the greatest things about organized training groups are that they fulfill the club’s mission to impact the health of the community by promoting running. They make the most of running as a team activity where individuals draw from the strength of the group to exceed their own individual goals.
As a club board member and former SRRC President, Tim is proud of helping build on some of the great partnerships SRRC has with other area clubs encouraging cross participation and promotion. Tim says he feels a successful recipe for teambuilding within the SRRC has been to create a positive and fun environment for people to succeed.
One of the biggest kicks Tim has gotten out of running included taking a large contingent of SRRC runners to the Indy Mini Half Marathon. They brought along a tent, over 100 runners, and music. They even had their own custom brew complete with “Half Wits” labels made by Charlie Bernardes. There may have been over 35,000 participants at the race but the SRRC made its mark on Indy that day, shutting down the post race area with a memorable celebration!
Wife Wendy says Tim did all the volunteer work because of his strong sense of the importance of affiliation and giving back to the community. Tim says he believes in giving back and volunteerism as a way of life and running is a sport he loves. He credits his parents as role models for helping to develop his talent for service to others. He made such a big impact on running that the national Road Runners Club of America named Tim the Rod Steele Volunteer of the Year in 2007, a prestigious honor, well deserved.
by Barb Bonansinga