The National Intercollegiate Running Club Association (NIRCA) is the governing body and central point of communication for the college running community. The grassroots organization promotes networking and friendly competition amongst collegiate running, cross country, and track clubs. NIRCA coordinates many events, including a fall cross country season, Cross Country Championship Series, Road and Track Nationals, and all-club conferences. NIRCA is more than just running.
Prior to the creation of the National Intercollegiate Running Club Association, running clubs were segmented in their collaboration, and competition against fellow clubs occurred rarely. Now teams may compete, share ideas, and utilize NIRCA resources to enhance the development and growth of their clubs.
The mission of NIRCA is to promote club running for students at the collegiate level. By serving as the governing body for running clubs, we provide competition, support, and networking opportunities for our member clubs.
All collegiate running-related clubs are invited to join our organization, and we encourage those members to host and attend NIRCA's various events.
Prior to the creation of NIRCA, running clubs had few, if any, options to race with other clubs like their own. Now teams compete against each other in sanctioned races as part of the Fall Race Series season and the NIRCA Championship Series, which comprises of the Regional and National Championships. Last year alone, 1000 runners participated in a Regional or National Championships race.
Club sports and student organizations provide college students with unique leadership opportunities and we strive to enhance that experience to the fullest. By working one on one with teams on a wide range of issues – race management, club development, officer transition – we make a personal investment to see that our student athletes grow as runners and leaders .
Whether at a race or a NIRCA event like the NIRCA Winter Conference, runners are able to connect with one another and share ideas about anything from fundraising to member retention. clubrunning.org provides a venue for promotion of what clubs are participating in and events they are hosting. NIRCA acts as a link to start relationships and partnerships between both clubs and runners.
The National Intercollegiate Running Club Association was founded in the spring of 2006. Prior to its formation, running clubs throughout the country had been competing in local road races, varsity college open invitationals, or did not compete at all. The need for a governing body to bring club cross-country teams together to compete and interact was realized by many. Greg Haapala (Michigan 06) and Tommy Otterbine (Penn State 07) got the ball rolling by contacting various clubs and organizing a national conference to discuss ideas and form what would become NIRCA. On May 12th and 13th 2006, Ohio State University hosted the first ever National Club Cross Country Conference.
Represented at the conference were Stephanie Kwoon, Dan Luk, and Mike Parry of Ohio State, Jeremy Brown of Ball State, Julia Stulock of Michigan-Dearborn, Otterbine of Penn State, and David Metler, Aaron Metler, Chris Babuska, and Haapala of Michigan. The group set the framework down for NIRCA and developed rules for the organization to follow as well as a constitution and website. The group selected Penn State as the host of the inaugural NIRCA National Championship meet for November 4th, 2006.
The national championship meet was modeled from the Ball State MC5 meet which started in 2004 and is the first known all-club cross country invitational.
Stulock is credited with the design of the NIRCA logo while Babuska created the organizations website and Brown wrote the constitution. Aaron Metler and Haapala served as graduate-overseers of the organization while the other founding members made up the first executive board along with Steve Ayres from Penn State as the representative from the school hosting nationals for that year.
NIRCA was founded to first and foremost promote running nation-wide on the collegiate level in a relaxed, fun environment. Championship meets allow our teams to compete on an even level and compete for the right to call themselves national club champions but more importantly, it is the founding members hope that clubs can share ideas by being part of this organization and improve and expand their respective clubs.
History written by Tommy Otterbine