DAVE THOMAS
Founder & President
Belmont Plateau Cross Country
Hall of Fame
Our History and Mission
OUR  HISTORY
  In 2003, Dave Thomas had an idea to start a non-profit sports event company  that would create, manage and aid local running races in the Philadelphia area.
Thus became a company called Philadelphia Athletic Charities.  Thomas had been a distance runner since the early 1970s and had used the sport of running as a catalyst to raise funds for various causes.  Most of his early event production were  ultra marathon events produced, performed and managed by one man (him). 

     In 1987, while attending Temple University for graduate work in sports management As a class project, Thomas created an event called " Run Around Philadelphia for the Homeless".  Thomas ran a 127 mile route (alone) starting and ending at the Peter and Paul Cathedral in Philadelphia. His run connected 17 of the Philadelphia Catholic High Schools ..  The lone run took place Christmas week, took 27 hours and raised $5000 for Saint Francis Inn in the Kensington area of Philadelphia.  Thomas recruited the members of the  cross country & track teams from the high schools as the fund raisers for the event. 

   The 1990s saw another wave of marathon run events created, produced and completed alone by Thomas.  While working for Pat Croce (Sports Physical Therapist Inc), and after an association with Tim Kerr of the Philadelphia Flyers, Thomas completed three massive undertakings mixing running and charity.
1n 1990, Thomas  created and perfromed in an event called " The Run Around the Spectrum for A Cause".   Thomas plan was to run around the Philadelphia Spectrum (400 meter oval sidewalk around the outside of the iconic structure) for 24 hours, starting at 1pm on Saturday and finishing 24 hours later. The lone run would be a fund raiser for the Philadelphia Flyers Wives Fight For Lives Charities in the name of Kathy Kerr ( president of the Wives Charities) who had passed away earlier in the  year.   Thomas covered nearly 113 miles in   the 24 hours (452 laps around the oval building) in 30 degree weather.  The event raised over $10,000 for the Flyers Wives Charities.  In 1991, he duplicated the effort again in" Run Around the Spectrum For A Cause ll" and raised about the same amount of funds.   In 1992, Thomas changed things up and ran a solo 100 mile route from Hershey Park Arena to the Philadelphia Spectrum. The event was titled " Hershey To Spectrum for A Cause"   He left during a Hershey Bears game and arrive 17.5 hours later during the Flyers Wives Carnival.   

       The late 1980s -2000s saw Dave Thomas serving as race director for a number of road and cross country races in the Philadelphia area and he helped create the Tim Kerr 10k (along with Philadelpha Flyer Tim Kerr) in Avalon, New Jersey.  The race event became one of the biggest road races in New Jersey (1400 runners it's first year) and raised over $25,000 for the Helen Dillard Blind Shelter in 1989.    All during this time during the 1990s and early 2000s, Thomas was also keeping busy by running many competitve local races as well as ultra races in England (London to Brighton 56 Miler), South Africa (Comrades 56 Miler) as well as serving as the head running coach of South East Pa. for the Leukemia Society's TEAM IN TRAINING.   He coached over 800 runners during his 14 years as coach andwas able to help novice runners acheive their first marathon while raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

       The fire was lit in Thomas to tie a lot of his experience in fund raising events and his love of running into starting his own non profit. This was the birth and founding of Philadelphia Athletic Charities (PAC) in 2003. From 2003 to 2015 PAC helped manage and create a number races in the Philadelphia and South Jersey area.  With a small group of  part time staff and volunteers , PAC oversaw such races Philadelphia oldest continous road race (The Schulkill River Loop Run), The Northeast Philly 5 Mile Run, Philadelphia Catholic League XC Alumni Run, The High Heel Race of Avalon,  The Bannister Mile Anniversery Race,and the Ocean City Police Chase.  PAC also assisted dozends of local road races with timing/finish line management and consultation.  All races had one thing in common; raising money for a local charity or cause. 

   2010 saw Thomas spending more of his time and effort with Cross Country races (one of his first loves) at the famous iconic course in Philadelphia called Belmont Plateau, one of the main parks located in the Fairmount Park system.   Since the late 1990s, Thomas had been organizing the Philadelphia Catholic Alumni Cross Country race (held before the Boys and Girls Championships in October).  Thomas had first been introduced to Belmont Plateau in 1972 while racing for La Salle High School.  Belmont Plateau Park, (located off the Schuylkill Expressway Montgomery Drive exit) had been the home for Cross Country racing in the Philadelphia area since the early 1960s.  Many great high school and college runners had competed there over the past 50 years and even hosted the AAU National Championship in 1976. The courses ranged from 2,000 to 10,000 meters and it's reputation as one of the toughest cross country courses in the USA was written about in a 1976 article in Sports Illustrated. As well as the great history of the park and it's 50 year connection to running, many traditions had been established with many leagues, such as the Philadelphia Catholic League, The Philadelphia Public League, The Big 5, USATF-Mid Atlantic, The Philadelphia Catholic Youth and the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference holding their annual championships there.  Time and weather, and neglect had caused many of the cross country course signage and course maintenence to decline.

    In 2013, Thomas was once again inspired and saw this as an oppurtunity to identify areas at Belmont Plateau Cross Country course that needed attention and contact the agencies that can help in the cause.  Since 2010, PAC and a number of volunteers had helped clear out brush, and revive some old CC courses, but nothing on a grand scale.  Project Belmont Plateau was launched by PAC in 2012. PAC was able to create a study of the cross country course usage and areas that needed to be improved upon to help in course safety, beautfication, and overall championship quality.   PAC partnered with the Fairmount Park Conservancy and Philadelphia Parks and Recreation in 2013. Through fund raising from the Broad Street Run, FPC, and PAC, Belmont Plateau CC Course had its first overall in over 30 years.  Over 40 new course markings and course certification with maps where created for the 3k, 5k, and 8k courses.  All new signage was created for finish line results,  weekly porta potties where donated by the Parks and Rec Dept for all CC races during the season. Catherine Ott (Director of FPC) and Jim Marino (Race Director of the Broad Street Run) where instrumental in aiding PAC with Project Belmont Plateau.  The course maintenance is now back in order with safe footing and the 50 year tradition of racing is strong and able to continue at Belmont Plateau. 

  All of the  work and connection Thomas has established at Belmont Plateau since 2010 has led PAC to change diretion from it's origninal focus and mission of local sporting events for charity to stictly cross country racing and the preservation and organization of keeping the long traditions alive and well in the future. Since 2005, Thomas has been the head coach of Cross Country at Philadelphia Univerisity and oversees a number of college invitationals (Philadelphia Metro) and created a few cross country races (Jack Saint Clair Memorial, CACC Championship) as well as the newly created 5k race called the Belmont Plateau Hall of Fame Race.   In 2016, Philadelphia Athletic Charities (PAC) will change it's name to The Belmont Plateau Cross Country Hall of Fame (BPCCHOF).  The Hall of Fame will still be a 501 c3 non profit with it's main mission to maintain the strong traditions of cross country racing at Belmont Plateau, help maintain and build up the courses,  establish a Hall of Fame to honor great cross country runners from the Philadelphia area and great runners who have competed at Belmont Plateau,  as well as establish a   college scholarship fund to help local cross counry runners.  More specifics to the Hall of Fame Mission will be found below.


OUR MISSION

The Belmont Plateau Cross Country Hall of Fame eveloved from Philadelphia Athletic Charities, Inc (PAC) .  PAC was founded in 2003 as a 501 (c) 3 non profit company who's mission was to organize running events for the purpose of raising funds for local charities in the Philadelphia area while promoting health, wellness, and sportsmanship.    The Belmont Plateau Cross Country Hall of Fame will maintain the same Fed ID Entity and also promote the sport of running, with  the main focus on promoting and upholding the long tradition  of cross counttry running at Belmont Plateau Park in Philadelphia.  Many great runners associated with cross country & on the track have  competed at Belmont Plateau since 1963.   There have been numerous Olympians, NCAA, IC4A, and USATF champions, as well as  high school, club and youth athletes who have competed on the courses at Belmont Plateau .  There has also been classic races, championship teams, coaches, and individuals who have stood out at at Belmont Plateau and Philadelphia Cross Country over the years.  The mission of the BPCCHOF is to cary on the long tradition of championship cross country racing alive by remembering and honoring the the many individuals who have raced on one of the United States classic courses.  

   We  regognize cross ountry running was well established in Philadelphia before 1963 and  will  also honor great teams and athletes from college, high school, CYO have competed in as well as cross country courses before Belmont Plateau got started as the venue in 1963.   The courses, races and athletes who competed on the Strawberry Mansion and Cobbs Creek Park courses will also be rememered and honored.     Philadelphia boasts of many iconic sports venues who have seen many great athletes compete in them.  Venues such as the Palestra, Baker Bowl, Connie Mack Stadium and JFK Memorial Stadium.    Franklin Field is always thought of when mentioning the Penn Relays and the sport of track & field, but for the sport of Cross Country; Belmont Plateau Park has been the iconic course since 1963. The BPCCHOF will promote  this venue  one of the finest and most established venues for the sport in the United States. Only Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx has as much history as Belmont Plateau.  Until the Belmont Plateau Cross Country Hall of Fame was established in 2016, there has been no central organization to preserve the history and legacy of cross country running in Philadelphia area.

 MISSION STATEMENT
  The Belmont Plateau Cross Country Hall of Fame is a not for profit association dedicated to preserving and promoting the sport of cross country in the Philadelphia area and especially the iconic courses and history at Belmont Plateau Park.  The BPCCHOF main focus will be  honoring and remembering those individuals, teams, coaches, and organizations who stood out prominently in the the sport of cross country/track & field and were associated with Belmont Plateau Park or other cross country venues in the Philadelphia area.   The BPCCHOF will also continue the tradition of Philadelphia Athletic Charities by using the sport of running as a means of raising funds for worthy causes, promoting a healthy lifestyle and sportsmanship.

 As it's mission the Hall is committed to:

  • Through enshrinement, honoring those individuals, athletes, teams, coaches, officials who had exceptional careers in the sport of cross country/track with a connection to the Philadelphia area and/or Belmont Plateau.

  • Public edification by establishing and raising funds to create a permanent Hall of Fame  or" Wall of Fame" at Belmont Plateau. Inductees into the HOF would be remembered on this permanent stucture.   BPCCHOF would look to organize an Annual Inductee Dinner to honor the Hall of Fame Inductees as well as raise funds for the BPCCHOF mission. 

  • Create a commitee of to annually aid the BPCCHOF in the identification and naming of a inductees to the Hall of Fame

  • Working as a partner with the Philadelphia Park & Recreation and Fairmount Park Conservancy, contine to maintain and develop the cross country courses and signage  at Belmont Plateau

  • Co-ordinate with all the organizations that regularly  organize races at the park and work with them on promoting Belmont Plateau and maintaining the established traditions of cross country at Belmont Plateau. Promotion would be in establishing and maintaining a website which would list the scedule and results of all cross country races held at Belmont Plateau. 

  • Maintain the certification and proper measurement of all courses. Establish a group to verify that all races run at Belmont Plateau follow the same standards for race course use for  course records. 

  • Create a college scholarship fund for high school cross country runners from the Philadelphia area who compete at Belmont Plateau.  Runners of merit would be awarded anually by the BPCCHOF for college scholarship assistance.  help in the purchase each year of the cross country championship awards for the Philadelphia Catholic and Philadelphia Public League

  • Continue to promote and work with organizations, such as the Sports Congress of Philadelphia to recruit more Cross Country Championship level races to Belmont Plateau (such as USATF, NCAA Regional, and or high school state championship race events)

  • Create and produce cross country races at Belmont Plateau,(such as the Belmont Plateau Hall of Fame 5k) and other fund raising events to support the BPHOF mission.

  • Create list of past performances  of race championships (ie Philadelphia Catholic and Public League) and best all time performances at Belmont Plateau, etc. to further keep Belmont Plateau Cross Country a historical perspective and keep traditions alive for each generation of runner.


Belmont Plateau Cross Country Hall of Fame
611 Jamestown Street
Philadelphia , Pa  19128

Dave Thomas, Founder and President
          

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