The history of the Prince George Road Runners Club dates back to the late 1970’s when a chance meeting at the Vancouver Marathon brought two local training groups together…
These runners – Ross Pearce, Chris Hallet, Gene Bricker, Dick Voneugen, Ken French, Dr Barry Hagan, Dr Donald McRitchie, and Dr John Paget – went on to become the club’s founding members.
According to Pearce, most of the original members had been training for two or three years before the club was formed. Most were training for marathons at the time. Pearce did the Boston Marathon in 1978, after winning a trip to Beantown in the local ‘PG-to-Boston’ Marathon (known today as the Labour Day Classic).
These runners began getting together for informal Sunday ‘breakfast’ runs from each other’s homes in preparation for that year’s Vancouver Marathon. Similar training sessions also began cropping up on Wednesday evenings. Soon, their competitive spirit could not be quenched with the one or two races per year elsewhere – so, the Prince George Road Runners Club was formed and, with it, a series of races.
The first meeting was called by Dr. John Paget in 1981. Chris Hallet would always recall the evening vividly, saying the temperature was a brisk minus 40 degrees!
The original Grand Prix series is believed to have started in 1982. As well as local races, a number of runs were held in the outlying communities of Vanderhoof, Fort St. James, Endako, McBride, and Quesnel. An interesting note is that these communities did not come looking for a race – it was more a case of the club ‘taking its show on the road’. Ross Pearce has said the club’s intent was to get running started throughout the region.
During the first several years there were actually two race series: runners could compete in the shorter ‘B’ series of races (5-10km), or the longer ‘A’ series (involving races from 10km to a half-marathon). In 1989, the two series amalgamated into one and for the next three years Masters phenom, Ron Empey, dominated.
Remembering a founder
Chris Hallett passed away in 1993. The following excerpt is from a past PGRR newsletter:
Chris Hallett began running in the early 1970s, after watching one of the first ever Labour Day Classic races (then called the Prince George-to-Boston Marathon race). Chris was a very quiet person and enjoyed running early in the morning. It was not unusual for him to be out at 5:30am, even on the coldest of winter days. He was one of the few athletes who could run the second half of a marathon faster than the first. Chris was dedicated to running and supported the Prince George Road Runners by participating in most of the club races.
In memory of Chris, a scholarship fund in his name in the Chemistry department was set up at the College of New Caledonia
PGRR hits the trails
In 2012, the Road Runners added its first trail race – Beat the Bugs – to its seasonal roster of events, as the club looked to support and encourage runners venturing onto the many breath-taking trails in and around this city. In addition to BtB, the club now also hosts the Blue Spruce trail race and the current board’s goal is to continue highlighting these wonderful, natural venues in Prince George.