The Golden Valley Harriers (GVH) running club was formed in July, 1994 by a number of dedicated, enthusiastic members of the Davis community (founding members), who had the drive to form a structured, yet welcoming environment where members of the community could motivate each other to reach their running goals.
JD Denton (recent owner of the Davis Fleet Feet store), was a crucial player in getting GVH launched. A group of runners started meeting at the Fleet Feet store (in different location in Davis) and ran long road intervals in the fields that are now Mace Ranch. JD would follow in his van and provide water to drink or place over our heads. In the Fall of 1994, the Saturday 10 mile run (then into North Davis) became a weekly (and often highly competitive) event. To appeal to all levels of interest, JD often lead an easy 5 mile run out to UC Davis. The roots of GVH began as a friendly group of fairly dedicated mid-pack runners.
JD was then approached by a local runner named Jason who wanted to start a speed workout training group on Tuesday nights. He was a member of the Buffalo Chips running club in Sacramento and wanted to base it on their training program. At the time, the Buffalo Chips hosted a large workout group in Sacramento every Tuesday night, but he and a number of other runners in Davis didn’t want to drive to Sacramento and back on a Tuesday evening. JD met with Jason and two other interested runners in the store to discuss the plan, and while they were meeting, a runner name “Nettie” came in and joined the discussion. The “Tuesday Night Workout Group” met the next Tuesday at 6pm to run from Fleet Feet, which was located at 513 2nd Street at the time (this location is now Logos Books).
This group would warm-up by running to the post office at 5th and Pole Line, then run out-and-back repeats on the sidewalk that led all the way to Mace Blvd. The Mace Ranch development was all located north of 5th Street then, so the sidewalk ran through empty fields devoid of traffic.
The group continued to meet and run the same route with varying repeats every Tuesday evening, and it grew to a couple of dozen runners eventually. Jason and his wife later moved to Omaha to accept a job offer and Nettie and her husband moved on to grad school at the University of Missouri. The group continued to grow however, and eventually it attracted the attention of other local smaller running groups in Davis. The Davis Track Club was one other local group (which later disbanded), and another local running group (including Rich McCann) was composed of very talented runners.
Rich had been leading a small group of "gazelles" on a weekly speed workout from the parking lot at Davis City Hall. Rich approached JD about merging the two groups into one to be coached by him and meet at Fleet Feet on Tuesday nights. The merger took place, and the group rapidly grew as word spread about Rich’s coaching ability.
So why the name Golden Valley Harriers?
Rich McCann came up with the name Golden Valley Harriers. For a while there was a movement to change the name, and the club voted for Davis Running Club. However, it was later learned later that there was an old Davis Running Club. Plus, Golden Valley Harriers sounded more romantic than Sacramento Valley Harriers. There was an effort led to change the name by one of the early members, Shi-Ling Hsu, who went on to become the Club's president and grew the group from 50 to 150 in only a couple of years, but the group decided on keeping the Golden Valley Harriers name.
Two regular events for the club in previous years have been the Lake Tahoe Relay (June) and the Davis Labor Day Race. GVH first participated in the Lake Tahoe Relay in 1996. The Labor Day Race originally began under JD Denton at Fleet Feet Davis in 1996. GVH helped with the event in the early years and then assumed management of the race in 2004. In 2017, A Change Of Pace started managing the Davis Labor Day race.
GVH Runners of the Year
Each calendar year GVH-ers votes for a male and female Runner Of the Year (ROY). These runners have had exceptional years indicated by a combination of fast times and promoting running in the community through volunteer activities. The awards are announced at the annual holiday party at the end of the year.