Being in the running is a Tripp tradition

Family: On a course that has stretched 23 years, David, Judy and son Jason have enhanced the race community and their family bond - HOWARD AT PLAY

May 07, 2000|By Carol Sorgen | Carol Sorgen,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The loneliness of the long-distance runner? You couldn't prove it by the Tripp family. The Tripps have made running a family affair for about 23 years, not only keeping each other company but making friends far and wide.

David Tripp, 58, vice president and director of corporate communications and investor relations for the Rouse Co., was the first of the Tripps to get involved in running -- in 1977.

"It was the occasion of Columbia's 10th birthday celebration," recalls the longtime resident of Long Reach village. "I ran the three-mile race, but I saw one of our state senators, Tom Yeager, run a six-mile race. Even with his football player's build, he was impressive. After I saw him run the longer distance, I decided to try it myself."

Tripp, who had played baseball in his younger days, joined the Striders, then an informal organization that sponsored weekly runs. Tripp ran some races, won a few trophies, and the next thing he knew, son Jason, then age 5, wanted to join in.

His father and mother, Judy, thought Jason was a bit young. But he started running two-mile races each week and never looked back.

"We had a rule -- he couldn't run more miles than he was years old," David Tripp says.

Now 27 and a father of two, Jason says, laughing, what got him interested in running so young were the traffic cones set up at the races. "I thought they were pretty cool."

As years passed, the entire Tripp family got into running. The Striders also were growing from a loosely organized group into a formal club with nonprofit status that now numbers more than 1,000 members.

David Tripp, inducted recently to the club's hall of fame, has been president, treasurer, weekly race coordinator and administrator.

Jason, who ran competitively at Oakland Mills High and Haverford College, also has been active as the group's membership director. "When I was younger, the Striders was a real community for me," he says. "They were all like my aunts and uncles."

"We all have a great deal of respect for the family's commitment, vision and execution of that vision," says Miles Weigold, a Striders founder. "Many people take their level of involvement for granted, but there would be a huge void if they -- especially David -- weren't involved."

Though David Tripp doesn't run competitively at the moment because of injuries, he works for the sport. He's the head timer for most county high school cross-country events.

"David is the first one there," says Weigold. "His focus has always been on the kids, and he works hard to de-emphasize the competitive aspect of running. Instead, he stresses the love and benefits of the sport."

As much as he loves running, David Tripp admits that it has a downside: boredom.

"When you're running 70 miles a week, as I once was, you can get stale. But now that I don't do it much anymore, I really miss it," he says.

Tripp adds that what has made running special were not so much the races he ran -- including the Boston and New York marathons -- but experiences the family had running together. They've done a family run in San Francisco, run into moose in Yellowstone National Park, and jogged the floor of Rome's Olympic stadium.

Jason, who runs six to 10 miles every morning, says that he has fond memories of running with his father. "We spent a lot of time together," he says. "He would talk, I would mostly listen. I kind of miss that."

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