The ORC was founded in 1976 at a front porch gathering of running friends. Some of those original members were Jon Hughes (owner of Track Shack, producer of most Central Florida races and race director for runDisney), attorney Richard Bates, Tracy Dent, Terry Smith and Dana Flugel.
For many years the club was the main local source for running information including race calendars, race results and training tips, although the advent of the Internet has made those functions less important. The club also organized club races and produced other races for charitable groups before any "professional" race organizers (such as Track Shack's EMMI) appeared in the area.
Many people turned to the ORC to find training partners, and this is still a main purpose of the club. Numerous long-term running groups and several marriages resulted over the years.
The ORC has started or supported many programs to promote the healthy running lifestyle, including the Middle School Mile and Kids on the Run. The club established the Charles M. Rowson Memorial Scholarship program, which now gives four cash awards each year to outstanding local scholar/runners to aid them in starting their college careers.
As part of Orlando's Sister City program with the city of Urayasu, Japan, the club selects two runners each year to participate in the Tokyo Bay Half Marathon.
The club has affected and continues to affect the lives of thousands of runners in Central Florida with volunteer work, children's programs, social gatherings and group runs. If you have more details on the ORC club history to share, please email email@example.com.
Urayasu ExchangeSince 1989, the City of Orlando has a Sister City exchange program with the City of Urayasu, Japan to promote cultural understanding. The Orlando Runners Club entered into a Sister Club Affiliation Agreement with the Urayasu Runner's Club on November 17, 1996, and renewed the Agreement in February 2015, to strengthen the ties of friendship and to contribute to deeper understanding between the American and Japanese people. As part of the cultural exchange program, the club selects two runners each year to participate in the Tokyo Bay Half Marathon. These runners spend several days touring historical and educational sites, having tea with the mayor and are honored guests at the race itself and at the annual Urayasu Runners Club banquet. Two of the nights are spent at the home of a Japanese family to promote cultural exchange and friendship with our sister club. In return, runners from Japan are similarly hosted here by the ORC in December for the OUC Half Marathon, and they are the honored guests at the club's annual Christmas Party.
In July 2012, the Orlando Runners Club received a message from the City of Urayasu:
"Urayasu City feels they were able to accomplish successful results in marathon exchanges over the years since two cities became sister cities in 1989, thanks to all the support from concerned parties in both cities. Thus, the City now wishes two clubs would continue this exchange from now on." The Orlando Runners Club has made a commitment to continue the exchange program between the two clubs.
The scholarship was established in the memory of a former member of the Orlando Runners Club, Charles (Chuck) M. Rowson, Jr., who died unexpectedly on December 27, 1983. Chuck was born in Utah in 1954 and moved to Orlando with his family in 1965. He attended Oak Ridge High School and graduated from Mid-Florida Tech in 1972. in 1973, he graduated from Valencia Community College where he was on the Dean's List and attained a 3.9 GPA his last semester. He had been accepted into UCF and was planning to study accounting.
Chuck started running in 1980 and quickly increased his mileage to 60 miles a week. He set a goal to run a marathon within three years. In 1982, he ran the Florida Festival Marathon in 4:17. By 1983, he lowered his time to 3:13. His best 10K time was under 35 minutes.
Club members dedicated the 1983 New Year's Eve race to his memory and raised money to establish a scholarship in his honor. The first Charles M. Rowson, Jr. Memorial Scholarships were presented in June 1987, when two students were presented scholarships of $250 each. The scholarship amount was later increased to $300 each. In 1993 and 1994, the ORC set a goal of raising enough money from the annual "Run with the Fat Guy 5K" race to award four $1000 scholarships, and was able to do so in 1994.
The Club developed a relationship with the Outback Distance Classic and provided over 125 volunteer each year at that event; in return, the scholarship fund was one of the beneficiaries of the race. When the Outback Distance Classic was discontinued, the ORC continued its volunteer efforts for the IOA Corporate 5K, and the scholarship fund was also one of the beneficiaries. In return for the generosity and help of the volunteers over the years, the club has reaped a tremendous windfall for the fund.
The ORC Board of Directors established a trust fund to invest the money for long-term support of the scholarship program. A three-member trust fund board was elected to oversee the investments. The Charles M. Rowson, Jr. Scholarship has become recognized as one of Central Florida's most prestigious awards given to graduating seniors with an interest in running. The winners are selected by the club based on academic and athletic achievements, school and community involvement, and financial need. Since 1987, 92 outstanding high school runners from the Central Florida area have received the scholarships.
Scholarship Fund Trustees:
Dr. Seth Elsheimer