The Orange Toque Award
After a long time Calgary Roadrunners Club member and volunteer Jim Clampett passed away in February 2014, to celebrate Jim’s dedication to the Club, Calgary Roadrunners introduced The Orange Toque Award, given annually to the Volunteer of the Year. Jim was often seen wearing an orange toque at Club’s races where he handled finish line timing.
The inaugural Orange Toque Award was presented at the AGM in November 2015 to Kathy Taerum, for her life-long contribution to CRR as a runner, race director, Board member, photographer, and countless other roles Kathy’s held with the Club. In 2016, the Orange Toque was awarded to Derek Wilkinson, for his continuous support of Club’s cross-country Grand Prix series and other CRR’s races, XC Awards Night leadership, and serving as a Board member. Melody Switzer received the Award in 2017 for her active involvement in CRR life, including directing Robert Hamilton Memorial and Calgary Women’s Run Races as well as serving on the Board and various committees. Mardy Roberts was awarded the Orange Toque in 2018 for the years of handling finish line timing duties and serving as a the Board member. In 2019, Robert Taerum was recognized as the Volunteer of the Year, for his contribution to the Club as a past xc race director and ever-present volunteer. Don Lee was presented with the award during a rare virtual AGM in 2020, for his significant contribution to the club’s life in the previous ten or so years.
It has become a tradition that the previous year award recipient presents the Orange Toque to the Volunteer of the Year.
Jim Clampett was posthumously inducted into the Calgary Marathon Society Hall of Fame, and Calgary Marathon annually recognizes their own Volunteer of the Year with the Jim Clampett Award.
Orange Toque Award recipients
The history of the Orange Toque award
Dedicated to the memory of Jim Clampett (1933 – 2014) – by Kathy Taerum
We remember fondly our friend Jim Clampett and celebrate his contributions as one of the Calgary’s most valuable volunteers. He certainly was the Calgary Roadrunners Club’s most capable and durable volunteer.
In years past, you’ve likely seen him operating the timing equipment at the finish line. Not many of us realized that he was an accomplished runner. Jim started running in 1972, long before the running boom of the 1980’s, and he completed 99 marathons in his lifetime. When asked by Alan Lam why he stopped at 99 and he simply said, “Ninety nine sounds better.” His favourite marathon was the scenic Avenue of the Giants Marathon in the Redwoods of northern California.
When Jim was 47 he had his first by-pass surgery. Immediately after, he started training for a marathon, against his doctor’s wishes. He said that he’d do the marathon with a trainer and that didn’t make his physician any happier. Jim’s time was under 3 and a half hours. (He clocked a 3 hour and 5 minute marathon in one of his ninety nine.) Jim did a lot of amazing things, but not with the intention of bragging about them. His daughter Susanne says that once he got an idea to do something, he would follow through – no matter what difficulties the decision would present.
In 1984 he tackled an über trail run – from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon to the North Rim and back to the South Rim again in one day – a gruelling 42 miles with climbs totalling 9000 vertical feet. Jim finished in 13 1/2 hours.
Jim describes the adventure:
“It was a sunny cool fall day in 1984 when an intrepid band of explorers (30 in all) boarded a chartered bus in Orange County to drive to Arizona and experience the wonders of the Grand Canyon. Most of us had been there but none of us had attempted what we were about to try – running from the South Rim to the North Rim and back again, all in one day. Other runners had done it on an individual basis, but the US Forest Service and National Parks had very strict rules against organized events, so we were definitely flying under the radar.
The trip back by bus started off as a party, mucho Cerveza and loud talk. That lasted all of one hour and then everyone quieted down and slept or licked their wounds. It was quite a sight to see us disembark from the bus at a rest stop. The down-hills had trashed almost everyone and people were stepping off the bus backwards with pained expressions on their faces.
For most of us, it was few weeks before our painful quads let us run freely again. I’ll go back to the Grand Canyon someday, Jim declared, but there’s NFW I’m going to try that Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim again.”
In 1992 Jim became a Calgary Roadrunner member. That’s when many of us became acquainted with him. What got him started?
In 1993 Rob Taerum and Bill Wylie held a finish line seminar on the Bow River pathway. Jim was fascinated with the technical side of race timing and this opened up an entirely new facet of road racing. In 1995, Peter Clark asked Jim if he’d take over the role of Equipment Manager. Rob was delighted to hand Jim the keys to “the Pig”, the old club van that had awful steering. Rob warned Jim that the Pig would be hot in the summer and cold and drafty in the winter.
A year later, Jim put the “Pig” to pasture and replaced it with the somewhat more roadworthy “Piglet”. Jim travelled across the province (and beyond) to deliver race timing and results for many organizations including the Calgary Marathon. He also measured and obtained certification for a number of race courses.
In 1998, Jim was able to “foist off” the Piglet and the equipment to Derek Wilkinson.
Jim had an affinity for Trail Running and the cross country Grand Prix series. He helped Roger Davies flag the Moose Mountain course in 1996. On race day he came as a spectator, but when the timing people didn’t arrive, Jim rescued the finish line by pulling out a fully charged 737 Chronomix from his van. The next year, Jim took over as Moose race director, and he continued in that role for 7 years before passing the race director’s hat to Jen Silverthorn.
Jim continued to serve the Calgary Roadrunners and the running community. He would take the timing equipment to the U.S. for maintenance and he continued to provide timing and results for Moose Mountain Trail races, the ten-race fall and winter cross country series and many other races. Did I mention that Barb and Jim would camp out in the Westphalia the night before the Moose Mountain trail races and that they helped shoo the cows off the road for the volunteers? He was skilled at organizing finish line teams at several large road races. He calmly dealt with fickle timing equipment, buttons that wouldn’t click and bandit runners. He’s been the keeper of the Cross Country Grand Prix results for about twenty years. Jim and Kathy had a tacit competition to see who could post their stuff first – the results or the photos – and often the results were up before dinnertime on the same day as the race.
Jim has served on the club executive for most of the past 20 years. In the past 11 years, Jim moved from equipment manager to tackle various CRR Executive roles including President and Past President. (All the while he was involved with other organizations, including stints as the treasurer of the Bow Waters Canoe Club and of the Scenic Acres Community Association.)
For at least 7 years he was Team Manager at international competitions for the Canadian Trail and Mountain Running Association. Each year, the Canadian Mountain Running Men’s Champion is awarded the James Clampett Award. The Calgary Booster Club presented Jim with the Honoured Athletic Leader award for 2009.
The cross country crowd would see Jim at the winter races in a parka and Sorels, topped off with a bright orange toque and sunglasses. This Californian native dealt with Calgary winters by hiding “hot shot” warming pads inside his boots.
Alan Lam paints a wonderful picture, “You know if there is a parallel universe with series of XC races “upstairs”, Jim Morris, Rick Collier and now Jim would make a very damn good Confederation cross country relay team.”
David Irvine-Halliday emailed a message of condolence from India. His words resound for all of us: “Heaven just got a wee bit better and we know their races will be beautifully timed and organized.”