The Griffith Feral Joggers was started by a group of footballers looking to undertake extra fitness training in 1971. From here a small group of people decided to hold a weekly run on the tracks around Scenic Hill, and the Griffith Joggers was born – a humble beginning for what is now a Griffith running institution.
Club records from 1975 show that they established a starting system where runners would start off a handicap time based on their ability. As a runner improved their level of fitness, their handicap time would be adjusted accordingly. This format provided the opportunity for all runners to finish at the same time and this format is still used today.
Recent Correspondence "Hi Feral Joggers, Thanks for the Joggers update. I would love to be at your annual dinner, but health and travel prevents me attending. It is incredible to understand that I was one of the founding members of the Joggers, way back in 1980 (Approx). Others were Barry Grindell, Lach McCudden, & Ari van Lelij. We started with just these few runners and it slowly grew to what it is today.
We have now been residents of Queensland for 30 years. I am now 81 years old and a run over Scenic Hill is beyond me. Keep the good work going, Ron Burns ex East Griffith Pharmacy"
Throughout the 1980s the club's membership continued to increase as word got out that regular runs were taking place each Saturday on Scenic Hill. Attendance numbers ranged from 20 to 40. The group dynamics was also starting to change with more females joining up.
Winter 1991 I took control of "the book" from Arthur West, who I think took it from Ron Burns.
The late 90’s brought one of the biggest changes to the club through the introduction of a choice of two distances to run, a long course of approximately 6km and a shorter course of 3 km. This change was to encourage junior runners to the club however over time it has seen an increasing number of adult runners and walkers use the shorter course. During the 1990’s numbers continued to grow with regular weekly numbers of around 60 people attending.
The Griffith Feral Triard's incorporated on 27 Sept 1991 for the purposes of organising triathlons, and with a great commonality of members with the Joggers, it was decided that the Joggers would become one with the Tri'ards, so the Griffith Feral Joggers were now an incorporated body. (So informally we are Griffith Joggers or Griffith Ferals, but legally we are Griffith Feral Tri'ards).
Triathlon died in Griffith not because it was unpopular, to the contrary, it was very popular and growing. What killed it was increased government regulation, which meant the organisation required to run a club race on public roads became overly onerous. Perversely, it is easier to run triathlons in the cities where there are more off-road alternatives which Griffith does not have.
As running became more popular through the 2000’s attendance numbers skyrocketed with 100 – 150 people regularly running on a Saturday at Scenic Hill. Numbers have settled over the past few years with the Club having over 400 active financial members on the 2015 club records, with ages ranging from 4 to 84.
Scenic Hill allows the opportunity for runners to experience a variety of courses and conditions, in a magnificent surrounding. Where else does such an environment allow children and adults to run in a reasonably safe haven, from roads and motor vehicles, plus encounter the Hill's wildlife from time to time?
The meeting point for the Feral Joggers has always been Saturday afternoon at the “Green Water Tower” on Scenic Hill, with the Club’s motto “rain, hail or shine”. The Feral Joggers utilise Scenic Hill each week of the year, bar one (the Bacchus), with regular courses and a yearly half marathon event. There is barely a fire trail or foot track that does not get used at some time.
Changes to the Joggers over 40 Years
The Runs have changed.
Building from a “regular run on a Sat arvo”, to a competition, to 2 competitions, and now we have 5 competitions + social series + 3 special runs
The Courses have changed
The Winter course is the only course remaining from my early memory. Some earlier tracks have actually become overgrown and disappeared. The Wet (and Fire) weather track is now the Lake Wyangan bike track, but we originally ran the sealed road to the Hermits Cave and back, yes, dodging the cars along the way ... no-one got injured!
Long and Short
The Joggers ran for over 20 years before I decided that walloping little kids with a 6km run and having them cringe away and never return, was probably not a bright idea. The Short started in 1998, and it "took a few years to become an overnight sensation“ Shane Jacobson (Kenny)
The Club Organisation has changed
The Joggers was an informal group for 20 years. The Griffith Feral Tri'ards became incorporated in 1991 to run triathlons (around 50% Joggers). This organisation was extended to the Joggers, who could then benefit from the protection of incorporation.
The Timing methods have changed over the years
Early on it was “first back pick up the stop watch and pad and start writing times”
Then there were too many runners for one person to cope with that, so it was "call out times and runners report back" to have their time written on the sheet.
Soon there were too many finishers too close together to call out times, so we got a stop watch with memories and "called out placings which the runner had to report back" – first (click), second (click), third (click) ... 43 (click), 44 (click), etc. We would match the times and placings at home.
Finally there were too many runners crossing the line even to call out placings. Which is why we went to electronic timing, starting 2009. If you have a tag you beep straight in. Two generations of timing hardware and software put results direct into the computer.
Results and Pointscore Systems have changed
Originally the records were hand written in school exercise books using brain powered calculations. In the absence of website or Facebook, you had to wait till Friday's Area News to find out your time and placing ... or perhaps they published it on the Wednesday and you missed that edition ... damn!
Hotfoot 1994 we went to computer input and printouts, still brainpowered, but neater.
Further to this we retired some brainpower ... a stack of Excel macros pumped out pointscores and reports and a WardleWaddle, ready for Johanna’s handcrafted website which began in 1998.
One major problem remained
The computerisation was my own and planted on a bench at home. The macros were my construction and not easy to explain and too liable to be crashed by a new user. Johanna's website required skill in tedious code.
Tracey Josling asked me during a Hill Run "What is your succession plan?" Hmm, we don't have one!
This is why and how our current set-up was created, and while we were at it, we threw the entire club organisation in as well. Our new system took over in Hotfoot 2014 (although you can access results back to 2005), and has been tweeked along the way. It integrates the Hardware, Timing Software, Entries, Competitions and Results, Member Database, User Manuals, and the Website into one total package.
We now have four Ferals capable of running the system, able to pass it around as req'd ... I was absent for months, no problem ... thanks colleagues ... job finally complete!
Every year has seen changes ... mostly because we want the change, some because we need the change, some because the change has been forced upon us, and surely this will continue.
More runners is great, you rarely run alone unlike the old days. But it does come at a cost. There is some congestion on the tracks. The work load ... we can’t be as free and easy with 100 runners as we were with 20-30. Our tamper-proof computer system is fast, automated, instant, reliable and portable, but gives us less flexibility.
All changes have the ability to upset someone, but please be patient and understanding and make every effort to fit in. You are part of a club with an enviable history, Neil