Rich Kenah: An Interview on The Atlanta Track Club in 2015, by Carolyn Mather, of The Running Journal

Rich Kenah, Atlanta Track Club and Bob Puccini, President, Mizuno North America, 
photo by

Carolyn Mather, a long-time writer for The Running Journal, and a long-time member of the Atlanta Track Club, caught up with Rich Kenah, to speak with him about the future of the Atlanta Track Club, specifically, The Atlanta Track Club in 2015. 
THE ATLANTA TRACK CLUB IN 2015, by Carolyn Mather, of The Running Journal

   Carolyn Mather wrote: "The Atlanta Track Club celebrated it's 50th birthday in 2014 and with that milestone the club hired Olympian Rich Kenah to lead the club into the next half century. Rich has spent the past ten months leading the Atlanta Track Club into the future. Rich is a dedicated leader and a person who knows the sport of running and the value running can add to one's life and health. He has been a tireless worker and is among the last to leave every event. He is relentless in his efforts to help the organization act on it's mission of impacting health and wellness in Atlanta through running and walking. He has increased the visibility of the ATC significantly since his arrival last February.

Personally, I have been with the Atlanta Track Club since 1979,  when Barbara Galloway recruited me and my twin daughters to run for the competitive team. The club has had it's ups and downs over that thirty-five year period, but I am thrilled with the new vitality Rich has brought to the club. Rich has secured a shoe company to be the provider of running clothes and shoes for all of the club's events and club activities. 

This partnership with Atlanta-based Mizuno North America is the type of relationship that doesn't exist in any other marketplace. This is an integrated investment 365 days a year. The partnership will also provide Mizuno a chance to put its brand in front of the 100,000 runners who compete in ATC-sponsored events, as well as the groups 21,000 members and 20,000 volunteers. It will also enable Mizuno to do some research and development of its products.
Rich has hired a world class coach Olympian Amy Begley and her husband Andrew to further the mission of the Atlanta Track Club. The coaches will work with all aspects of the track club and develop programs for all levels of runners. I am proud to be a member of the Atlanta Track Club Elite and am delighted that Rich sees value in our team.

   I asked Rich Kenah a series of questions covering his first ten months as executive director and he shared a great deal of valuable information. Enjoy the view from Rich from his first year." 

Here is Carolyn Mather's interview with Rich Kenah: 


1.  Carolyn Mather: You have been the executive director for nearly a year ( 10 months). What have you discovered about your new job?

Rich Kenah: I've tried to absorb 50 years of history in a short period of time. It is hard to summarize what I've learned the last 10 months. I'd say the most important take away is how critical Atlanta Track Club's volunteers are to the success of the Club's events and programs.

2.  Carolyn Mather: What are your goals for 2015?

Rich Kenah: My personal goal is to run more miles in 2015 but I assume you meant what my goals are for the organization. 

In our 51st year, we have some aggressive plans that include among other things:
--Growing the number of kids we impact through our introductory youth program-Kilometer Kids.
-- Launching our youth track and field team with an eye toward regular practices and a handful of competitions in year one.
-- Segmenting our outreach messaging to members and event participants so we speak to the specific needs of that runner.  With 21,000 members and more than 100,000 participants, we have people at every stage of the runner life cycle so it makes sense not to simply speak to everyone as if they are the same.
-- Relaunching our training programs with a head coach and with a goal of providing more guidance and assistance to our volunteer run leads and program participants.
-- Delivering real value to our members beyond their guaranteed entry into Peachtree.  

3. Carolyn Mather: The media has been all a buzz with the big Mizuno partnership. What does this mean for the ATC and your goals going forward?

Rich Kenah: In broad terms, this partnership will allow Atlanta Track Club and Mizuno to have a greater impact on the community in which they operate.  Mizuno's commitment will be felt in every area of the organization from the addition of runner- friendly technical apparel at our events and from our website, to training participants getting shoe fittings at local running speciality stores to our elite teams getting the support from a world class running brand.

4. Carolyn Mather: Are there any new programs you have in mind for the future?

Rich Kenah: Yes, plenty of new programs and ideas.  Atlanta Track Club just finished up a 3-year strategic plan that will guide our focus during this next cycle.  While we will look to aggressively increase the number people we reach in Atlanta, we will not deviate from our mission.  Our focus will be to provide running solutions for everyone in the runner life cycle. In doing so, we want to have positive, collaborative relationships with other running organizations in the region. One area we are specifically excited about investing our resources around is high school running. From a new cross country event to spotlighting our top All Metro athletes in the fall and winter, the HS runner will be a focus going forward.  

5. Carolyn Mather: Amy and Andrew Begley have been hired as head and assistant coaches for the ATC. What do you see them doing in their first year?

Rich Kenah: They won't be bored, that's for sure. They will begin to provide a centralized coaching curriculum for the entire organization. This will include working with our volunteer coaches, recruiting elites to our Club, growing the number of participants in our programs and generally building on what our volunteer base has done for so long.  

6. Carolyn Mather: The competitive teams have recently been renamed ATC Elite? What are your plans and visions for the teams?

Rich Kenah: Decades ago, regional running clubs were where Olympic level athletes developed.  The pendulum swung to shoe companies carrying this load in the 90's and the previous decade, but I believe this now needs to shift back to Clubs like Atlanta Track Club.  We already have the best master's team in the country and maybe the world.  Our vision and goal is to maintain the support for master's but begin to attract open athletes interested in chasing their own Olympic dream.  This will take some time.  It will be more like a marathon than an 800m! 

7. Carolyn Mather: Do you envision top elite athletes relocating to Atlanta to train? What types of support will be available for them?

Rich Kenah: Yes.  Atlanta has a vibrant running community.  We are not a big destination for post-collegiate elites just yet, but we'll get there.  We have a diverse city, with some quality training facilities, a number of the country's biggest employers and one of the most convenient gateway airports in the world.  And now we have coaches, shoe company support and specific goals to chase...

8. Carolyn Mather: How will the volunteer coaching programs be improved going forward?

Rich Kenah: Atlanta Track Club has had the support of hundreds of volunteer coaches in recent years.  These volunteers have been passionate advocates for the Club and have successfully introduced running to many of our members.  We have not done a good enough job, in my opinion, of providing them centralized staff support. This includes challenging but fun workout plans and support beyond group runs, pre-planned workout locations in runner friendly locations, nutrition planning and injury prevention advice. Our goal is to have Amy and Andy lead our efforts to provide more staff support to our volunteer run leaders and ultimately deliver a better participant experience.  

9. Carolyn Mather: What is the most pressing issue for the ATC?

Rich Kenah: I wouldn't say we have any pressing issues but I would say we need to focus on executing all of our programs and events in a way that continues to provide value to our members and participants.

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