Runners unite in club founded by Ozark County runners
If you happened to attend the Ozark County Christmas parade in early December, you might have noticed the guy in the Santa hat wearing a neon green "Idiots Running Club" shirt leading the parade. That was David Murphy, an ultra-marathoner and co-founder of the IRC club that now has members all over the United States and Great Britain. Murphy recently started a Facebook page for the club, which is open to anyone who runs - regardless of ability - where runners can "meet" in a virtual sense.
"We all share running advice and tips as well as track each other's training progress," Murphy said. "This helps motivate and inspire new runners to push a little harder and expand their own perceived limitations. Runners at all levels can learn from what others are doing. Sometimes a new runner will bring a fresh perspective to training that a 'seasoned' veteran may have forgotten or just never learned. It's all about encouragement and support."
Murphy has recently heard a lot of questions about the club's name. "Everyone who runs has at least one person in their life who will call them an idiot," Murphy said. "In most cases it's probably true. Only an idiot would do the things we do - running in the heat, cold, rain, wind or snow. On the roads, trails or treadmills. Trips and vacations are planned around running events or training schedules. We set alarms on the weekends so we can go long. Ice packs, ace bandages, foam rollers, ibuprofen and good old dirt can fix any injury."
It all started back in the summer of 2007 when Charley Hogue and Murphy started running together and training for their first marathon. "We didn't have a clue what we were doing or how hard it really was to run 26.2 miles," Murphy said. "We started running long on the weekends, doing 15-20 milers in the summer sun. We were rarely able to or smart enough to go early before it got hot and generally would end up partially dehydrated due to the heat, lack of enough water and a very fast pace. Rest days were rare, and easy training days were even rarer. We had a lot of fun."
So many people gave the two such a hard time about their running, questioning why they would put their bodies though such abuse, that they jokingly formed the Two Idiots Running Club.
It wasn't long before Murphy and Hogue graduated from marathons to even longer races, called ultras. "This opened our eyes to an entire new world of stupid things. There were so many people like us who had more desire and heart than brains.
"I signed up for my first 50k the night before the race. I hadn't trained, logging only a 12-mile run for my longest training run in the three months prior, but Charley was doing it, and I didn't want him to run a distance that I hadn't covered," Murphy said. "It was dumb, but it wouldn't be the last time I entered an ultra without training."
Soon Murphy and Hogue came to know other runners in the surrounding areas, and it became clear there were many "Idiots" just like them. Hogue, a Missouri Highway Patrol officer, was tranferred to Willow Springs and found a new running partner. Murphy met Jon Wilson, Gainesville High School ag teacher and FFA adviser, and they started running local trails together. "We decided to rename the club to include all the new Idiots," Murphy said. "It turns out, there are a whole bunch of them out there."
Members of the club range from grandmothers just starting to run to people like Murphy, who counted these accomplishments in 2011, most of which were fundraisers for the American Cancer Society:
• Rocky Raccoon 100-mile race in February
• half-marathon in March
• "2nd Annual Honor Scroll" Ouachita 50-mile trail race
• 53 miles at the Ozark County Relay For Life
• Lake Free-Bird Sprint triathlon
• Kickin Route 66 50-mile road race, where he set a state record for his age group
• "Turn the Trail Pink" Dogwood Canyon 50K.
After all that, he injured his knee at a local 5K race and went on to cheerlead a whole group of IRC members to personal records at the White River Marathon in Cotter, Ark. You can read more about his adventures at runlikeamug.blogspot.com.
If you're a runner and you want to join the club, message David on Facebook and he'll give you the details on joining and let you know how to get one of those cool Idiot Running Club shirts.