By: Sarah Fry
The month of December has been a time of transition in the BAR leadership as Beau’s presidency draws to a close and our incoming president Corum learns essential and intricate behind-the-scenes details like how to open the BAR’s old-school post office box at the downtown post office. Observing these moments gave me an opportunity to reflect on the many ways the BAR’s shared leadership, both formal and informal, is essential to its continued vibrancy as a volunteer-run organization. I offer three insights to celebrate the BAR and let newer members know about ways to be involved.
First, the BAR’s vibrancy is the result of a community of volunteers who share their creativity and love of running with others. From Neil and Dana creating the Greenbelt Traverse, to Ashley launching the 1200 mile club, new ideas and opportunities keep the BAR vibrant. The opportunities to encourage participation aren’t limited to elected board members – any BAR Tender can approach the board with a creative idea. Indeed, while Neil and Dana are members of the 2021 leadership team, they were not on the board when they launched the Greenbelt Traverse and summer ‘20 trail exploration. They had good ideas, pitched them to the board, and ran with it (quite literally!). Other non-board members have also enriched the BAR with opportunities, such as a successful fun-raiser for Girls on the Run. Board-members and BAR Tenders also come together for committees (e.g. the spring training camp committee). As Randi explained in her invitation to run for a leadership position, the BAR “needs committed people to keep its five weekly runs and numerous special events on the calendar.”
Second, as Randi also explained, the BAR is a place where we can find “transformative relationships that we would have never had otherwise.” When I first moved to Boise 12 years ago, Meet-Up wasn’t the vibrant place for making connections that it is now, yet I was lucky enough to find a hiking group through a notice in the Boise Weekly! Many of the people I met through the group are still close friends today, and I remain grateful for how a shared interest in enjoying the outdoors brought amazing people into my life. So over the five years that I have attended BAR events, I’ve been particularly happy when new-to-Boise runners develop close connections. Our Sunday morning Camel’s Back co-host, Geo, explained how involvement with the, “BAR is a big reason that the Treasure Valley … started to feel like home” to him and Brita. Despite the shift to BAR events during the pandemic, we still have new-to-the-BAR runners find us and show up for runs. Hope is high that in 2021 we will see COVID-19 reined in, and we can return to having post-run and race events that bring us closer together than 6 feet apart! In the meanwhile, I know our BAR community will continue to offer a warm welcome to newcomers seeking to find their community and new friendships and keep existing members motivated and supported to keep running through the challenges of life in a global pandemic. As Matt put it so powerfully:
I enter a circle of fluorescent singlets and smiling faces
to start every Saturday morning
and release a sigh that seems to say “so glad that I have found you”
Third, while president of the BAR, Beau developed the BAR Stories Project as a way to cultivate connection. In looking through the collection of stories, I note that some feature runners who are not as active in the BAR as they once were, and they will be joyfully welcomed when they return. Other stories feature insights about our incoming president Corum’s journey as a runner. In another story, Julie inspires us with her endeavor to run a marathon in all 50 students. She also reminds us “Anyone can run. Everyone doesn’t have to run a marathon. Everyone doesn’t have to run a half marathon. It’s just about enjoying it.” Early in the pandemic, Alie shared how she adjusted to the changes even though she “had 2020 all figured out. I had registered and planned my year of races that would challenge me, help me grow, give time for recovery between, and then amp me back up to achieve the goal of the next one.” These stories and others remind me that Beau was right when he said “Running makes the best people.” Perhaps others will continue the BAR Stories project in the future as it offers a way to build connections in our community.
I welcome the new ideas and opportunities the 2021 BAR leadership team is sure to offer, and I hope others who aren’t elected leaders will contribute as well. Contribution is about more than hosting events – it’s about offering friendship, laughter, and support. I write this reflection about shared leadership as we approach the anniversary of losing our dear friend Rob Hancock. Rob was quick to make everyone feel welcome at BAR events. As Sheryl pointed out, “He always would stop for a few minutes to run at my slower pace just to see how things were going for me. I believe he did this with everyone on the run because he genuinely cared about everyone feeling like they belonged.” Rob embodied leadership without holding an official role in the BAR – he contributed through kindness and generosity. As Beau said, “I can’t help but feel that he was the best of us. He trained with passion and determination when focused on a goal, but he was very capable of just chilling at a pace comfortable for the person he was talking to. His humor and warmth was most evident when supporting and celebrating others.” We can all do that for one another and keep the BAR a welcoming community by contributing, whether or not we hold an elected role on the board.