Fun! Fitness! Friends!

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Hot off the press! Big news … in today’s issue of the Excelsior Springs Standard …

The Fishing River Running Club is being launched in Excelsior Springs! 

This is a group for everyone, non-runners or novice runners or avid athletes. We’ll meet at the local Anytime Fitness (you DON’T have to be a member!) to run together every Tuesday and Thursday, morning and evening. You can get more details in the newspaper. I’d love to link directly to the article, but it isn’t available online. So, as a public service, I’m publishing the text here:

New Running Club Starts in ES for All Levels of Experience

Runners and non-runners alike are invited to join the Fishing River Running Club, a new fitness group being launched in Excelsior Springs.

Sponsored by Anytime Fitness, the running club is open to everyone in the community and is being led by a group of experienced runners from the fitness center.

“Our running club is designed for everyone,” said Don Ledford, one of the organizers. “We have something to offer all levels of runners, and we especially want to encourage non-runners to join. We’ll provide plenty of support so that running will be a fun and enjoyable way to get fit, lose weight, improve race performance — whatever goals you set for yourself.”

Ledford, a lifelong Excelsior Springs resident, is a 3:26 marathon runner who will be participating in his 13th marathon this month. He qualified and ran in the Boston Marathon earlier this year, crossing the finish line about 20 minutes ahead of the terrorist explosions.

“I think that experience in Boston made me realize that running can be a way for me to give something back to the community,” Ledford said. “Not everyone wants to run a marathon, but everyone wants to be fit and healthy. The goal of our running club is to help everyone be more healthy, and for those who want to improve as runners, to provide some guidance and assistance to help them run faster or farther.”

Too often, people try to start running and get hurt, or frustrated by the effort. “We can provide the know-how to get off to a better start,” Ledford said. “Most people who tried running on their own, and either failed or hated it, just need some support and a few helpful tips to radically change their experience. If you’re one of those folks who thinks you can’t run or don’t like to run, you should try the running club.”

More experienced runners will also enjoy the camaraderie of a running club. “A support group of like-minded friends can push us to the next level,” said Ledford. “Sometimes all it takes is a little nutrition advice, or a training tip, or a running partner to challenge us, to improve our running performance.”

Joining Ledford as leaders of the twice-weekly running groups are Eric and Sarah Wilson and Sarah Grosko.

Sarah Grosko has been running for six years and this year decided to take it to a more serious level. A childhood friend of hers was diagnosed with MS; with that, the Nerdy Little Redhead Racing Series was born, created by two friends determined to keep a girl on her feet and out of a wheelchair. By Dec. 14, Sarah will have 27 races under her belt for 2013.

Eric and Sarah Wilson each completed their first race in March 2011 and became addicted to running. Sarah is running her first half-marathon this month. “I run for the personal challenge and stress management,” said Sarah, who has completed 20 races (including ; 5Ks , 10Ks, obstacle races, “fun runs” and the Northface Endurance Challenge marathon relay). “I’m eager to share this sport and passion with others,” she said.

“The most important thing is to have fun,” added her husband, Eric. He hopes to encourage new and beginning runners that the running club isn’t just for elite athletes or experienced runners, but for anyone who wants to have fun while getting more fit and healthy. “I’m not a fast runner,” said Eric, “my average pace is about 9:30 or 9:45 minutes per mile. In the beginning, I started out very slow, and gradually I’ve gotten faster!”

Among the programs offered by the Fishing River Running Club is a 5K training program. The program, designed for non-runners, begins by alternating walking and running. Participants gradually increase the amount of running and reduce the amount of walking until they are able to run 3.1 miles (the distance of a 5K).

Runners in the 5K program can set a goal to participate in the Bellringer 5K walk/run on the evening of Saturday, Dec. 14, a fundraiser for the local Salvation Army. The 5K course will include a scenic tour through the popular Lane of Lights display. Instead of the traditional t-shirt, participants in the Bellringer 5K will receive a Santa hat.

“We’re excited to sponsor a new community event that will support such an important organization, especially during the holiday season,” said Mark Harmon, co-owner of Anytime Fitness. “The response so far has been fantastic, so we’re looking forward to a huge turnout for an exciting new holiday tradition in Excelsior Springs.”

Membership in the Fishing River Running Club includes entry to the Bellringer 5K as well as a technical shirt emblazoned with the club’s ensignia. “Either the race entry or the technical shirt alone is worth more than the $20 membership fee,” noted Harmon. “But during the running club’s launch and the inaugural Bellringer 5K, our first members will receive both.”

Sign-ups for the new club will be held during an organizational meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 14 at Anytime Fitness. Running teams will begin the next day, with a morning and evening team every Tuesday and Thursday. The morning team meets at 9:30 a.m. and the evening team meets at 6 p.m., with both teams gathering at Anytime Fitness. In addition to the Tuesday/Thursday runs, there is an informal Saturday morning run at 9 a.m., which will start at the fishing dock at Watkins Mill State Park.

More information about the Fishing River Running Club can be found on the club’s Facebook page and on Ledford’s blog, www.RunFasterRunFarther.com, or contact Ledford at RunFasterRunFarther@gmail.com

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