The History of the Formation of the Rocky Mountain Road Runners
by Ric D. Robinette
In 2003 and 2004 Dennis Kavanugh and Ric Robinette researched the formation dates of the Denver Track Club and the Rocky Mountain Road Runners. They spent many hours researching archives, records, and sanctioning records determine the DTC and RMRR origin dates. Much of this information was obtained from club records, newsletters, media records, and sanctioning organization records. Valuable assistance and direction to find numerous supporting details were provided by the DTC founder Mr. Joe Arrazola, who is still coaching in Colorado, and is still active in some RMRR activities today. As with any historical search there are gaps that are difficult to fill in, and some portions of the historical information is unclear. The following is a summary of the research as related to the formation and history of our club .
The Denver Track Club was founded in 1959 by Mr. Joe Arrazola. In the previous summer of 1958, at the specific request and financial backing of Mr. Eddie Hayes with the City of Denver Department of Parks and Recreation, Mr. Arrazola organized 5-6 all-comers track meets at Denver University track on Friday nights. At that time, Mr. Arrazola was running in national AAU competition under the 20th Street Recreation Center (Denver, CO) AAU affiliation. In the summer of 1959, in association with the City of Denver Department of Parks and Recreation request for additional summer track meets, Mr. Arrazola formally organized the Denver Track Club (DTC) as a club, and he requested and received AAU affiliation. The first documented full year of DTC affiliation with AAU was 1960. Joe Arrazola served as DTC president from 1959-1966.
Except for these sparsely attended 1958 and 1959 summer track meets, the DTC had limited presence and no real financial support until 1960 when Mr. John Blank became involved with the DTC. Mr. Blank joined with Mr. Arrazola and began organizing and bringing high school groups to the track meets. In 1960, the DTC began to grow and expand into a more active, and typical, running club.
The idea of handicap racing was conceived by Mr. Joe Arrazola in 1960 to draw interest from “the average runner”. The handicap racing idea was submitted to AAU. The handicap racing concept was ultimately approved by AAU and implemented as part of the club’s schedule. The development of a handicap racing program was significantly difference from others clubs across the country of that era. The actual date of the first formal handicap type race by the club is uncertain, but some form of handicap racing was in place in 1962 (although there are some indications that it may have been 1963). That type of event was popular with the membership and was soon expanded into a 16-race annual series. It is not clear what year the annual handicap race series started, but annual series winners have been identified from the 1960s. The handicap race format was destined to become a core part of the club race schedule.
Beginning in 1962 and 1963, the DTC went through a series of organizational and name changes as a result of varying national sanctioning philosophies. These illustrate the intricately intertwined relationship between the Denver Track Club and the Rocky Mountain Road Runners for several years. The singular “Denver Track Club” name was replaced with two simultaneous club names used under two different sanctioning organizations. The DTC continued as the club name under AAU sanctioning for running and racewalking track events. For road racing events, the club was simultaneously sanctioned with the name “Rocky Mountain Road Racing Club” (RMRRC) under the relatively new road racing sanctioning organization, the Road Runners Club of America. Somewhere during the early or mid 1960’s, the club name associated with road racing events was revised to the Rocky Mountain Road Runners Club (RMRRC). The use of dual club names were a relative common practice during the 1960s because of the rivalry and different philosophies between the two national sanctioning organizations. As was common during that era, our two clubs had the same slate of officers and membership, members paid a single membership fee and were simultaneously listed as member in both clubs. A picture of the 1960’s club shield depicting the joint “DENVER DTC/RMRR” names can be seen on the current Rocky Mountain Road Runners web site in the Club Info section .
Some time during the mid 1960s (probably in 1966 or 1967), the Rocky Mountain Road Runners Club name was shortened to the current name, the Rocky Mountain Road Runners (RMRR). The exact year of the change has not been identified. The RMRR name and our current logo were both in use on 1968 documents. Use of the logo with the club name was not identified prior to that year.
Both the Denver Track Club and the Rocky Mountain Road Runners names continued to coexist as a common single group through 1970. Throughout the 1960s, the Denver Track Club name was used in conjunction with track events. The Rocky Mountain Road Runners name was used for road racing events. It seems that the Denver Track Club name appears more commonly in the historical record, possibly because the AAU was the more prominent sanctioning organization of that time .
During1969 and 1970 there was continuing friction between the track and road racing factions within the club related to the majority of the club financial resources being diverted toward sponsoring AAU national level competition for a very small number of runners and race walkers that were competing at national AAU level track meets. Meetings were held with the Colorado Track Club to discuss absorbing the track portion of DTC. The discussions were unsuccessful.
Upon failure of the discussions with the Colorado Track Club to absorb the DTC track group, the vast majority of the club membership reorganized into a new club format. The reorganization effectively occurred in late November and early December 1970. The December 1970 club newsletter included a copy of a new concept for the club, called THE CONSTITUTION AND BYLAWS, to take effect on January 1, 1971. Ultimately the majority of the club members voted to ratify the new Constitution. The first and parts of the second Articles of the New Constitution are quoted below:
Article I Name – Rocky Mt. Road Runners, formerly the Denver Track Club
Article II Purpose – To foster, develop, and perpetuate, for all persons of all ages of both sexes, physical fitness and well being by running for fun and for competition. Two program areas will be sponsored by the RMRR which are: (1) Long distance running, (2) Handicap program. The program will abide by the AAU Rules . . . .
Not all members of the original club were in agreement with the new direction, and some members of the group oriented toward track events broke away from the larger group and continued to operate under the name the Denver Track Club. Based upon the name change as defined by Article I of the Constitution, there were some arguments in past decades that the original Denver Track Club ceased to exist as of January 1, 1971, and the original club was renamed as the Rocky Mountain Road Runners. Some members of the group suggested at that time that if the smaller track group choose to separate and reorganize under the name of the Denver Track Club, it was doing so as a newly formed club using the old Denver Track Club name, because original Denver Track Club name was terminated and formally changed to the Rocky Mountain Road Runners via Article I of the Constitution and Bylaws as approved by the majority of the club membership. Whatever one’s perspective and interpretation were at that time, those were debates of nearly four decades ago.
The RMRR, as it exists today, formally began that chapter of existence on Jan. 1, 1971. Prior to that time the DTC and RMRR were closely intertwined and functionally integral with each other. The two club names were interchangeable depending upon the type of event, i.e. either track or road racing. Clearly the DTC was the original parent club, as founded by Mr. Joe Arrazola in 1959. However within a few years, the singular club was operating under both names in differing arenas.
Our 50th Anniversary is our celebration of the origin of the parent club of the RMRR, which was the founding of the original Denver Track Club in 1959 for the summer track meets. Once the original Denver Track Club began to grow, and sponsor events other than the Denver Parks and Recreation summer track meets, the club reorganized in the early 1960’s to simultaneously support two separate sanctioning arenas, the DTC for track events, and the RMRR (RMRRC) for road racing events. The two groups were totally intertwined with the same membership, similar officers, and a single common membership fee for several years. The RMRR is proud of our joint heritage and our original founding roots with the 1959 formation of the parent DTC. The RMRR openly welcomes all area running clubs, especially those who also share a common origin with the formation of the Denver Track Club in 1959, to join us in celebration of this special event in our history.