Stamp Your Ticket Stub: Twin Cities Track Club

Competing at the International Snowshoe Federation’s (ISSF) Global Championships in Rättvik, Sweden to hosting the World Indoor Track Championships viewing party at Brit’s Pub in downtown Minneapolis, the Twin Cities Track Club races toward the future. Their “Mr. Vivacious,” Michael Reneau, leads TCTC forward and fast, to a new era for running, track and field events in the Midwest.

Michael Reneau makes the podium with a bronze finish in Cable's USSSA Dion Snowshoe Championships in 2011; also made the US Team. Watch for him at 2015's Eau Claire race

Michael Reneau earns a bronze podium finish in Cable’s USSSA Dion Snowshoe Championships, 2011; qualified for the US Snowshoe Team. Watch for him at 2015’s Eau Claire National Championship race

For example, here comes pole vaulting and the decathlon; brought to the field by championship-class athletes like vaulter Leslie Brost and decathlon star Jack Szmanda to a club that recognizes their needs and invites them in.

Jack Szmanda (photo) and Leslie Brost become 1st TCTC athletes to compete in field events: pole vault. Szmanda also raced 60m hurdles and shot.

Jack Szmanda (photo) and Leslie Brost become 1st TCTC athletes to compete in field events: pole vault. Szmanda also raced 60m hurdles and shot.

Now enjoying its 50th Anniversary year—founded in 1964 by running visionaries Bob Harris and Pat Lanin—the TCTC cherishes golden ties with the past. Hosting the annual Raspberry Run 5-Mile right in the smack of a summer—this year is Sunday, July 20, 2014—is one such example. Legends of road running such as Olympian Ron Daws, Steve Hoag with his 1975 Boston second place and Dick Beardsley who seven years later chased Alberto Salazar into immortality over that year’s finish, ran these same roads the course still follows:

From downtown Hopkins—that is, Minnesota’s Hopkins—clip steps counter-clockwise around scenic Shady Oak Lake whose lush shade wanes during the race. Then moving fast, dashing past the cool swimming on the lake promising relief but only to those on the beach; crossing Excelsior Blvd stretching on to a right turn, the great mile finalé down the crowd-lined Main Street, the race a preliminary to the annual Raspberry Day Parade. Boiling by the Hopkins Center for the Arts where on this day runners are their own canvas with a stage of asphalt,

It's tough getting beat by a berry . . . I know.

It’s tough getting beat by a berry . . . I know.

panting of a different kind; then relief looms ahead as the finish reveals. Next for the crowd, a flow of floats, the city’s Raspberry Day’s Parade with a different set of clowns out in the midday heat just for fun.

In two years, 2016, the race will carve a notch for the fiftieth time, reaching immortality as one of the granddaddies of road racing competitions. Reneau stirs in his seat, his imagination beginning to soar just thinking about that commemorative day to come.

But new history develops at TCTC; just announced is University of Minnesota’s cross-country champion Elizabeth Yetzer, one of four, including her mother and two sisters, Annie and Bekah, who charmed the state with their athleticism, is now under the TCTC banner with Chris Lundstrom as her coach. Lundstrom, as well as developed skills in running the Olympic Marathon Trials, cross-trains on one of the more mystic 50 km races in the Midwest, the Superior Trail Race.

Melissa Agnew at World Indoor Championships

Melissa Agnew at World Indoor Championships

Yetzer said in an interview with Alex Kurt, “I got to talk a bit to Mike (Reneau) and hear a little about his vision for TCTC. It was so exciting to hear that his goal is to have a team that both has national representation and serves the running community. I am so excited to join such a great group of athletes.”

Reneau has foresight like Butch Cassidy alluded to in the famous film with Paul Newman and Robert Redford, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid“:

Boy, I got vision, and the rest of the world wears bifocals.

Instead of collecting banks, Reneau collects races, looking at reviving names of past glory, shining them once again to a luster, buffing their entry ticket to a need, a destination of desire for runners. With a formula paying homage and bottom-line support to the founding organization perhaps needing fresh leadership for a now worn race; meanwhile boosting the TCTC, continuing growth and rejuvenation, he is as busy as an Olympic Trials Marathoner, which, of course, he is.

Stephanie Price and Reneau at US Half-Marathon Championships sporting their throwback TCTC shirts

Stephanie Price and Reneau at US Half-Marathon Championships sporting their throwback TCTC shirts

Running fosters creativity, and from that Reneau has an entirely new feature in his life: screen printing. Seeking designs from local running artists like Wynn Davis, his shirts have new meaning and a throwback feel to the look, exactly a trend that TCTC is leading.

Leslie Brost, Vaulting With Style

Leslie Brost, Vaulting With Style

Now cross-training on snowshoes, Reneau adds the fun and the effort of the sport are key enhancers to his personal training program. The ISSF’s world stage for competition fits him like a winter glove. And what of the just-announced United States Snowshoe Association’s national championship for 2015 racing in nearby Eau Claire? In his home state of Wisconsin? Plan on Reneau chasing the snowshoe crown on that go.

Steve Hoag heading to 2nd place in 1975's Boston wearing No. 6. With wife Geri, they watched the indoor championship action with the TCTC crows at Brit's.

Steve Hoag heading to 2nd place in 1975’s Boston wearing No. 6. With wife Geri, they watched the indoor championship action with the TCTC crowd celebrating at Brit’s.

What’s next for TCTC? The keenest track club going, matching the place we met for a stylish yogurt parfait unlike any other: ultra-understated but ever-so-cool Parka.

Sounds like, Twin Cities Track Club.


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Read “The 300-Mile Man” yet?


  • Phillip Gary Smith, Senior Editor, published "The 300-Mile Man" about Roberto Marron's historic doubling of the Tuscobia 150 mile endurance snow run. He publishes "iHarmonizing Competition" on various forms of competition, including drag racing, his favorite motorsport. Earlier, he wrote "HARMONIZING: Keys to Living in the Song of Life" as a manual for life with chapters such as Winning by Losing, Can God Pay Your Visa Bill?, and a young classic story, The Year I Met a Christmas Angel. His book, "Ultra Superior," is the first written on the Superior Trail ultra-distance events. He mixes writing with his profession--the venture capital world--a dying art. He is a creator of CUBE Speakers, a group espousing themes in "HARMONIZING: Keys" in a unique way. Currently, he has two books in the works. Write to him at, or find him on Twitter or Facebook @iHarmonizing.

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