Monday, September 19, 2011

Raw Dogs, Living the Stotan Life

What follows is the first of what will be a two-part post. Back in the 90's I wrote an article that was about a group of runners who called themselves the Raw Dogs. Their origin and where they have gone since then is fascinating. They are the best examples of people who have embraced Cerutty's philosophy and are living the Stotan life.This will be a recap of what I originally wrote about them with an update to follow shortly. After years of no contact with them I recently spoke with one of the members and it was quite revealing and inspiring to hear what the Raw Dogs were up to. To begin,the two founding members were originally with me in a Western New York area group I led called the Stotans. They broke off for reasons I'm still a little uncertain of but let's just say it was probably due to personality and philosophical differences between two factions within the group. There is no question though that both groups were and are zealous in their devotion to Percy Cerutty and what he taught.I should add that the name Raw Dogs was co-opted by them when during the course of a conversation I had referenced that name which a friend Harvey Sipel had told me about previously. The following was written sometime in the mid-90's.
"The "Dogs" have a core membership of six, associates and other runners can increase the total number to close to twenty. At one time group runs were done once during the week and on each weekend day. Once a month they'd head out to the Virgil,N.Y. area on a weekend to camp and run along the Finger Lakes Trails. Gut wrenching runs that involved lots of hills and fartlek were the norm. Participation in area trail races were viewed as a necessary evil to gauge ones' degree of fitness. The highlight of each season was a 21 mile race called the Virgil Mountain Madness, an excellent test of speed,toughness and endurance.
The "Dogs" despise what they perceive as the commercialization of running.Comfortable,durable running gear is favored over the colorful polyester outfits that are the norm these days at local road races. No $100. running shoes,boxes of Powerbars or stacks of Runners World are to be found amongst their ranks. Athletics:How To Become A Champion is their Bible as is the other works by Cerutty.About two months ago five of their members packed up their belongings and moved to Dryden,N.Y. The impetus for this move was to be closer to the Finger Lakes Trails which go for hundreds of miles throughout the northeast. They have rented a five room cottage and some have taken on jobs for a nearby Ithaca landscaping company. Talk about a leap of faith! Crazy? Maybe. Sacrifice? Not to them. They take literally the teachings of Cerutty that says there are no sacrifices in the pursuit of excellence while doing something you love. The "Dogs" now chase their individual goals while in a group enviroment. A few have indicated a desire to make the 1998 U.S. 100k team while another wants to race the Pikes Peak marathon. All want to race well at certain trail and road marathons. They all are in agreement that they want to go far into the Cerutty philosophy and see where it takes them. Workouts now center around a 15 or 20k time trial each Wednesday and 4 hour plus run/hikes on Saturday and Sunday. At their cottage the "Dogs" have turned their biggest room into a place for weight and strength training. Pictures of their heroes cover almost every area in that room. And just to let you know that it's not all work and no fun for the boys,weekends bring many guests and much "partying". The large tent in the front yard and what appears to be empty cases of beer would seem to confirm this statement. For those who desire to be a part of this group it is by invitation only and that comes after a lengthy process where a prospective member proves his mettle on the trail and by what he sincerely professes and by how he lives.In closing, the Raw Dogs" commitment to "walk the talk",disregarding what many close to them may think, is why they are featured in this month's issue."
Next post, an update, a move out west and where they are now.

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