Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Early Days of NETT (part I)

This time of year, I always get a little nostalgic because NETT really took shape during the fall of 2002 (the Andover XC Race was our first official NETT race).

A lot of runners have come and gone in the past eight years, but a few folks have asked recently about the history of NETT. So I decided to check in with my co-founders Paul Miller, Dave Bartel and Bruce Goode about those early days and see if they remember things the way I do (none of us are getting any younger).

In this, the first installment, we'll have a Q&A with Dave Bartel about the early days. I've known Dave since the 7th grade and while he's not all that active in NETT these days, he was an important player in those early days and continues to do a VERY good job of reminding us all not to take ourselves too seriously.

In your memory, how was NETT formed? Who played what role?

The idea of forming a running club was first brought up by Dave Hannon. He had run with other running clubs in the past and wanted to branch out on with his own club with the idea to create a more laid back, let's have fun and win some races idea. This idea of a running club was one of the many topics we would discuss while running. It should be noted that Dave and I originally met while growing up and running at Chelmsford High. Having more like minded people to run and ultimately train with was very refreshing for me. It almost made the running aspect take a back seat to the comraderie of everyone and we ran with.

Was there any mission statement or overarching plan or goals to it all or was it more of a less structured thing?

In the beginning it was less structured, getting together for runs and going from there. It worked out for me and Dave that we both lived and worked in the Waltham/Newton area. This afforded us the opportunity to meet up for runs more often than not. Dave introduced me to the Lincoln Woods and was one of my favorite places to run. (The other being the Carlisle State Forest.) As I (we) started meeting up with more people, Bruce, Paul Miller, random one off's, Ben, Anthony, Dave Shackelford, workouts and races became more structured (planned) with time.

What were the early runs and workouts like? Where did we meet?

The early runs were divided between Lincoln Woods and runs from Brandeis into the Weston area. I recall participating in a majority of the causal runs and especially the Sunday monring long run at Lincoln Woods. Eventually I began participating in the specific workouts, tempo runs, hill workouts and track workouts. The fondest memories that stuck with me are the long runs in Lincoln and the Prospect Hill hill workouts (that mother effer is appox .9 miles gate to top!!)

Beyond the four founders, who do you recall as being the earliest members of NETT?

Anthony Chamberas. Anthony was like the fifth Beatle. He had the right mindset, participated in runs when his time allowed and could be considered and original 'silent' founder. And Ben Winther. Why? Exactly. Paul Young was also involved in those days.

How about races? Do you remember doing any races in the early days of NETT?

In the early days I really enjoyed the training more than the races. On training runs we all ran as fast as the the slowest person there. No one was there to 'win' the training run. Well, maybe Big Ben sometimes, but that's why we love him! When Dave did coax me into a race it was a Thanksgiving day race or the Yankee Homecoming. On a personal note, the Falmouth Road Race was one that I looked forward to each and every year.

Do you remember any early social events? Where were they what were they?

I do not recall many social events. Rumor has it I was at one particular event from what I was told. Apparently I horrified a friend's girlfriend (now wife) when I relieved myself on the sidewalk outside their apartment. Dave and Doris drove me home. The next day I saw Anthony and his girlfriend (now wife) when I went back the next morning to pick up my car. Pictures of this event never surfaced so it may not have ever happened!!

Overall what is your favorite memory/memories with NETT?

Favorite memories are of the Lincoln Woods training runs. One in particular was with Dave, Ben and Cindy. After crossing the MBTA train bridge re-entering the woods into the rocky, curvy downhill Dave stumbled and fell banging his knee on a rock. We were unaware that something like this would cause him to pass out, or as I like to call it, taking a "dirt nap." As we suddenly stopped and stood over Dave lying on the ground barely breathing, Ben's first response was, "Should we poke him with a stick?"

The other memory was always having a steady, reliable running partner in Crazy Dave.

Any words of advice for new members? What you, as a founder, would like to see happen with it all?

Know about and understand the banana. If that makes sense to you, you certainly belong with NETT!!

Thanks Dave! Stay tuned for interviews with our other co-founders.

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