Runner's Web

Lynne bermel's Weekly Column
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Lynne’s Column for Week of November 1th : Profiling the Runner's Web

Lynne Bermel

Evidently, Don Leroux has a legion of fans. Our story on the heart surgery recipient-turned super Don-duathlete generated a flood of emails about his successful journey back to health. With the amount of introspection he's had to do over the past few months, Don figures he has enough material to write a book. He's already got a title: "Pasta for the Mind." He just needs a publisher. Conrad (Black) are you listening?

Before I land into this week's subject: The Runner's Web, let's introduce it by discussing the power of the Internet. "It come groovin up slowly," chimes Nortel Network's new TV add. Unfortunately, as last week's events have shown, it ain't that slow. One click or mis-click of the mouse and -poof - we're all privy to something we'd rather not be privy to. I bring this up only because an accidental mis-click last week resulted in a highly personal message being transmitted under this column's title. This brought on several emails asking: Just what IS the purpose of this new column? While it might very well get us more traffic, it's intent is NOT to profile the personal lives of local and national athletes but to look at their inspirational stories and discuss issues relevant to the multi-sport world we love so much.

That behind us, what then exactly is the Runner's Web? What began as an Ottawa, Ont.-based site designed to hook up runners with local events has grown to international forum with over 5000 links and a regular following of running, triathlon and duathlon enthusiasts from all over the world.

Ken Parker

Ken Parker, an Ottawa running coach and CEO of Sirius, an IT Consulting Firm, started Runner's Web as a hobby site back in 1996 - a decade ago in web years. At the time, he felt there was a glut of concentrated information on running events and saw the World Wide Web as a means of getting the word out. Little did he know what he was creating…

The Runner's Web has grown into a comprehensive resource site providing information on local to international running, triathlon and duathlon races, late-breaking results, links to major running shoe manufacturers, the latest widgets and gadgets to calculate performances, training tips - and much more. It also has interactive forums, chat rooms, bulletin boards and regular polls on topical issues such as legalized drafting and not-so-legalized drug taking in sport.

Ken at World Duathlon Championship 1999

Ken maintains the site which he says takes him "a couple of hours a day." He finds the information to post by actively searching the web, pulling results from published media reports and getting information 'pushed' to him from various sources. His company, Sirius, provides the technical infrastructure for the Runner's Web free-of-charge.

"Luckily, I have a team of young, dynamic, ambitious managers who run the day- to- day business at Sirius,"says Ken. "This allows me more time to play on the site, " he adds, likening his job as CEO one of coach, providing counsel from his over 25 years in Information Technology.

Ken initially thought the Runner's Web site would be his retirement hobby but now thinks it might be a part-time business when he retires from Sirius. It might not be that far off with a son like K.C., a 20-something business dynamo, who is prepped to take over the reins. To further stir the pot, Ken has received offers from an American company offering to buy the site. "The call just came out of the blue." Ken says. Not that he's considering it, or anything.

For now, though, Ken is happy enough to continue working on and expanding the Runner's Web. And the visitors keep coming. The busiest day so far was last Monday, after the weekend's Chicago Marathon and the Hawaii Ironman. The front page alone generated over 1000 impressions.

The site has won several awards, too, including Transition Time's Cool Site of the Month, Microsoft Running's 3 Star Site and even an Italian award from its Podismo site. "It gives me a real kick," says Ken. "It's nice to see people like the site. It's grown far beyond what I initially though it would. Obviously, there are a lot of people out there looking for this sort of information." Keep on giving it to us, Ken.

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