Retiring Coach Block voted into NJCAA Cross Country Hall of Fame
February 14, 2014
Chuck Block – 2014 NJCAA Cross Country Hall of Fame Inductee
I started running in 1970 at Whittier Junior High School in Westland Michigan. Back then the longest race they had was the 800. I loved it and could not wait to run Cross Country and Track at Livonia Franklin High School. What I love about running is you can train very hard on your own to gain on your competition. During the summer leading up to my first year in High School I trained extremely hard. At the first practice I quickly established myself as our second best runner. I was our top runner my junior and senior year and made the all-conference team all 3 years.
I went on to attend college at Michigan State University but was not good enough to make their team so got out of running competitively. As happens to many young men and women I fell into some bad habits and became totally out of shape. I married and had 2 beautiful children and became a single parent with full custody of my children. Being a Dad I was not happy with my life style and wanted to be the best Dad I could be and be a strong dependable person in my Children’s lives. One day I saw an ad in the local newspaper for a St. Patrick’s Day race at the local YMCA. I decided to change my life style and to train for this race. I could not even run 1 mile without stopping. I would run a half mile and walk a quarter mile until I gradually was able to run 3 miles without stopping. After I did the race I was hooked. I never went back to my former life style and became a strong sober parent for my kids. Running changed my life.
I slowly got better and better and after a couple of years actually started to win local races. I peeked as a runner when I turned 40 and placed in the top 20 in major Marathons at Detroit, Columbus, Cleveland, Memphis and Minneapolis and placed in the top 5 in the Master division. Some of the honors I received during this time were Motor City Striders Runner of the year, Ann Arbor Track Club runner of the year and the Michigan Runner Magazine Master runner of the year.
In 1998 when my children were older and I had more time on my hands I decided to give back to the sport of running. I saw how running was such a positive influence on my life and I wanted to share this with others. I thought it was great that proceeds from the races that I ran went to good causes like cancer or heart disease but thought we should have races where the proceeds actually go back into the sport of running itself. So in 1998 I stared a nonprofit called the Michigan Running Foundation whose mission is to support youth running in Michigan. Since then we have donated over one hundred thousand dollars to youth track clubs, High School booster clubs and College scholarships. The Foundation is set up as an endowment fund with assets over two hundred thousand dollars generating dividends to support our mission. It is my goal to have a million dollars in assets and be able to support youth running in Michigan for many years.
For my work and contributions to youth running in Michigan I received the Lansing Citizen runner of the year in 2009 and the Michigan Runner magazine contributor of the year in 2010.
In 1999 Chuck became the assistant men’s and women’s cross country and track and field coach. He took over as the head coach in 2001
"I became the best runner I could become," says Block of his amateur running career. "Now it's time to share the love of the sport with other young people." Chuck has consistently been voted NJCAA Region XII Coach of the Year every year since 2001.
Below are the accomplishments he has made with his foundation and as the Head Men’s and Women’s Cross Country/Track and Field Coach at Lansing Community College.
Men’s Cross Country: 2007 NJCAA DI Men’s Team National Championship, 13 Consecutive Region XII Championships, 13 time Men’s Region XII Coach of the year awards, 12 Top Ten National Meet finishes, 3 All-Americans.
Women’s Cross Country: 11 Region XII Championships, 11 time Women’s Region XII Coach of the year awards, 12 Top Ten National Meet finishes, 8 All Americans
Besides Coach Blocks success above, he is the founder and CEO of the Michigan Running Foundation which has distributed more than 25 grants for over a total of $29000.00. Coach Block and Lansing Community College have hosted the Region XII Cross Country Meet since 2005. His race timing service (MRF Race Management) times over 100 races per year. MRF timed the NJCAA 2012 Cross Country Championships held at Rend Lake CC.