A word from the President

It’s 4:00 am in the morning and I can’t sleep. 

I realize the magnitude of being elected as the 2022-2023 Southern Arizona Roadrunners Board President, even so, I am excited for the opportunity to serve the Tucson running community. I am also a little nervous to fill the shoes of being the board president, because I know we have so many opportunities and so little time to get things done! 

My name is Caroline Gardiner and I'm proud to be your next President for the Southern Arizona Roadrunners. I started running in High School because my best friend was running indoor track and my horse was injured so I couldn’t ride for several months. The first several weeks I remember not being able to walk downstairs because my legs were killing me, but for some reason I stuck with it and well, the rest is history. I ran the next two years in high school and then went on to run in college and have been running ever since. I have met some of my best friends running and I think that is the best part of running, the community. 
I know I’m following in the footsteps of past presidents who have done amazing work. I would especially like to thank our immediate past-president, Lauren Erdelyi, who perhaps led this organization through one of its most difficult times in our 50-year history. Canceled events, COVID, Zoom meetings and many other unforeseen consequences brought on by the pandemic, were handled with grace and professionalism. Not only did Lauren create SAR’s COVID response plan and the Miles for Meals event that raised thousands of dollars to Community Food Bank, she did all that while working a full-time job in public health and starting a PhD program. Thank you, Lauren, for your outstanding service to SAR!
SAR held our annual meeting and strategic planning session on Sunday, August 29th. Part of our duties is to elect the the SAR Board of Directors as nominated by the membership.

Here are your 2022 - 2023 full slate of officers:

Caroline Gardiner – President
Mely Bolhman – Vice President
Karina Pedroza – Recording Secretary
Kris Fitzharris – Membership Secretary
Dave Dixon – Treasurer
Greg Wenneborg – Materials Officer

Board Members at Large:
Jeri Baker – Fitkidz Coordinator
Mohammed Al- Sammak – Diversity and Inclusion
Don Branaman

We also brainstormed areas we would like to change and improve in the coming years, and broke out into small groups to create action plans to implement in the coming months. 
Of course, implementation is always the hard part. One of our major issues is that we just plain need more resources. We need your help! (For those of you with kids that have watched Dora the Explorer, this should be familiar to you all.) We currently have nine board members. In the past SAR has had up to 20 board members. I can tell you that every one of our current board members has put in countless hours to work towards SAR’s mission and vision, but we need more people to implement what needs to be done. 
While there are many things on our list to work on, we identified four areas to focus on immediately:

  1. Marketing & Communications. SAR needs to tailor our marketing and communication to fit the 2022 state of running and walking in our community. Opportunities exist in our website, social media outlets, and newsletters. Tim Bentley, past president and extraordinary race announcer, has graciously agreed to help start up our newsletter again. I just looked on our website and the last letter we put out was the summer of 2020. I encourage anyone that has a story to tell or who would like to contribute by writing stories, please contact Tim Bentley. In addition to Tim working to recreate our newsletter, we are considering hiring a resource to help maintain the constant need for communication to our members. We have found that trying to keep up with website, social media, emails, and other forms of marketing to be too difficult for a volunteer position. 
  2. Recruiting & Training. Recruiting and training new Board members is another top priority. We simply can’t meet our goals without more people. I have heard many people say they don’t want to join the board because it is too much time. I know life still seems complicated after the pandemic and it is difficult to imagine dedicating the next year to a board.  Well did you know you could just volunteer for a project for the Board without joining the Board? For instance, one of the main reasons for SAR’s fundraising is for the Children’s Fitness Fund (CFF). The CFF was created to provide money for community endeavors that promote life-long fitness for children. The programs funded by SAR focus on the development of healthy lifestyles for children, with emphasis on running-related activities. During Covid SAR did not seek proposals since most in person events/programs were cancelled. SAR would like to re-activate this program, but we need someone to coordinate the effort. A small team of volunteers could manage this program for several months with help from the Board, and when the grants have been awarded, your job is done.
  3. Community Outreach, Diversity & Inclusion. SAR's goal is to improve our diversity and inclusion programs with the community. We have a subcommittee that is working on opportunities to grow our membership and increase programs that include Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) runners and walkers that fully reflect our community. If you have interest in helping SAR expand its community outreach please contact our new Vice President, Mely Bohlman
  4. Social Events. Finally, we would like to restart is our social outreach with events like the Happy Hour Hobble. Again, we need a coordinator. If you like running, and you like happy hours, then maybe a group of you and your friends could help out with setting up Happy Hour Hobble events. SAR would provide any supplies and help with connecting with locations and sponsors, but the rest is up to you and your team. You could help with one event, or try to plan out several events for the year. Please reach out to info@runsar.org if you are interested in helping with this project.
As I sign off for now, I hope that I have inspired you to consider helping this great organization. I know the last couple of years have been difficult for everyone. However, I also know that SAR can be a force for change and growth in our community. The SAR Board is looking forward to implementing past programs restart the ones that are paused and create new programs that continue to serve the community. Keep moving forward and make sure you have fun doing it - together we can do great things! 

Caroline Gardiner
SAR President
Next Up for the Southern Arizona Roadrunners
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 18: TMC Tucson 10k and companion 5k - Painted Hills in the Tucson Mountains, staged at Pima Community College West - Register Here


SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24: SAR FitKidz at Sabino Canyon - free one-mile for children under 12! - Register Here


SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25: Jim Click's Run n' Roll 8k and 1-Mile - staged at the University of Arizona - Register Here


SUNDAY, OCTOBER 23: TMC Biosphere 15k, 5k, and Cox Family Mile + FitKidz Mile - staged at Biosphere 2 in Oracle, AZ - Register Here


THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 24: Thanksgiving Cross Country Classic 5k and 1.5 mile fun run - Reid Park - Register Here