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PaperChase is More Than Fun


While you’re attending your next big industry event, don’t be surprised if you see a group of your papermaking peers running AWAY from the conference venue. It could very well be for a good cause.

For more than 30 years, the PaperChase Fun Run, in one form or another, has been an annual event held at a TAPPI Conference. Runners, walkers, and supporters from every area of the pulp and paper industry have come together to raise scholarship funds for deserving engineering students in our industry. Ahead of the Curve would like to share some of the history of the event—to thank the hundreds who have made their mark while making a difference.

On Your Marks…

It was the 1983 TAPPI Engineering Conference in Dallas, TX where sponsor BE&K and Pulp and Paper magazine first started the “Paper Chase 5K.” Scott Robertson and editor Ken Patrick were the fathers of this TAPPI running movement. Now organized by a PEERS conference committee, this scholarship fundraiser event has been held annually except for a one-year hiatus, and has raised many thousands of dollars for endowed scholarships at pulp and paper university programs throughout the US.

During the 1980s-1990s “heyday” of the Engineering Conference, these events would attract close to a hundred people who would get up pre-dawn on a Tuesday morning to be transported to a local park for some fun and exercise. Over the years, the PaperChase has been held at some amazing venues, such as:
• Along the Charles River in Boston
• Along Lakeshore Drive in Chicago
• San Francisco’s Presidio Park
• Inside the Philadelphia Zoo

Runners have also braved some less-than-impressive venues, such as multiple laps around a hotel parking lot; yet all have been fun events. One memorable event was in 1992, when Andy Jones “broke the world record” for 5000 meters in the Nashville Opryland Hotel parking lot. We figured the course was about 25 percent short, at 2.4 miles.

Upon his retirement in 1995, BE&K stalwart Scott Robertson was honored with a Certificate of Distinguished Merit for starting and sustaining the TAPPI Fun Run concept. Bo Gilbert sustained the event for many years thereafter, before it became a PEERS Committee function in 2012.

…Get Set…

The popularity of the PaperChase concept expanded to a few TAPPI annual meetings during the big exhibit years, such as 1996 and 1999. These were “Special Edition” Paper Chases. Parallel occasional efforts developed as the “EnviroChase” at the Environmental Conference and even a “Digester Dash” at the Pulping Conference.

The Coating Conference has also held Fun Runs to raise money for its division scholarship fund. Bill Powell planned the first TAPPI Coating Runs, at Nashville and Philadelphia, in 1996-1997. The following two years, Steve Ottone planned the Coating Runs in New Orleans and Toronto. Jane Thompson (Shulenberg) planned the next few before the tradition ended in about 2003.

Rex Robertson organized a “Runnability 5K” at the 1993 Papermakers Conference in Atlanta. Though popular, it failed to gain traction as an annual event. A few unsuccessful attempts were made to bring a fun run back to the Papermakers Conference. Finally, in 2004, a committee was formed to organize an annual scholarship fundraiser. The charter committee consisted of Alfred Li, Mary Toney, Nancy Ross Sutherland, Frank Sutman, and Karen Van Duren. The re-born “Runnability 5K” debuted on the Milwaukee lakefront in the spring of 2005. There were about 40 participants and 11 sponsors.

Since then, the organizing committee has kept the event going strong. It has become a full-fledged TAPPI Community with 17 members and regular conference calls. Participation has grown at times to nearly 100 runners and walkers. Like the Paper Chase, there have been some incredible venues, such as
• The St. Louis Arch
• Atlanta’s Piedmont Park
• Jacksonville’s North Bank Riverwalk
• New Orleans’ Audubon Park
• Cincinnati’s Sawyer Point Riverfront Park

Regardless of the venue, everyone had fun!
In 2013, the event had a record 33 sponsors. It had close to 100 participants in 2012. Through 2013 the Runnability 5K has raised more than $83,000 for five divisional scholarship funds. Initially, the Runnability 5K supported the Paper & Board and Engineering Division Scholarships; over the years, the support has expanded to include the Coating Division, and the commissioning of new scholarship funds for the Process Control and Product Quality Divisions. These events would not happen without the loyal support of industry sponsors—thank you to all.

The PaperChase has also raised significant scholarship funds. Recent event stats are as follows:
• 2014: 36 participants, US$7135 sponsorship funds raised
• 2015: 20 participants, US$5085 sponsorship funds raised
• 2016: 31 participants, US$5340 sponsorship funds raised

For the past three years, the total sponsorship funds raised has been US$17, 560.


PaperChase participants at the 2016 PEERS Conference in Jacksonville, FL.

2017, the 34th Annual PaperChase Fun Run will take place on Tuesday, November 7 during the TAPPI PEERS Conference in Norfolk, VA. Route plans will take participants down the scenic Elizabeth River Trail. As always, all proceeds will benefit the TAPPI Engineering Scholarship Fund. The PaperChase will feature a 5k run/1.5 mile walk, with prizes being awarded to the top men and women finishers in the 5K run. Children are invited to participate at no charge (a donation is suggested for those who would like a T-shirt.)

The TAPPI PEERS (Pulping, Engineering, Energy, Recycling, and Sustainability)
Conference will be held November 5-8, 2017 at the Hilton Norfolk The Main, and will feature a full technical program, New Technology Showcases, a spouse/guest program, and more. Visit

PEERS will be co-located with IBBC, TAPPI’s International Bioenergy and Bioproducts Conference. IBBC brings together experts interested in leveraging the knowledge and assets in the pulp and paper industry to produce fuel, energy, and chemicals from biomass. Visit

Hope to see you at the PaperChase!


For a modest investment of $174, receive more than US$ 1000 in benefits in return.
Visit for more details.