When one thinks of running, images of uber-athletes spending grueling hours dashing for miles and miles may come to mind. Others may even be of the opinion that running is just a means to an end and not fun at all.
And then there is a group of students at the University of Miami that might disagree profoundly.
“I like that running can be kind of what you want it to be,” said senior Erin Kelly, president of the running club at UM.
Kelly, a neuroscience major from Fort Wayne, Ind., founded the club together with a friend in 2009 and has made it her mission to cater to runners of all ability levels.
At roughly 40 members, the club runs distances that range from “the loop,” a lap around campus, to location runs that can be up to 20 miles long for marathon training. Some train for causes such as the recent Breast Cancer 5K, while others condition themselves for the famous annual ING Marathon and Half Marathon on Jan. 30. Contestants for the ING Marathon start their day before sunrise in downtown Miami, and go down Ocean Drive, Miami Avenue, through Coconut Grove and then back to the starting point.
While those goals are certainly something to strive for, many members simply like to run together and have a good time.
“It’s a good way to meet fellow runners and be close to people with the same interests,” said freshman Shane Bornstein. “I figured it would be good to have a group of people to run with, stay in shape.”
Bornstein and the other members meet Tuesdays at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. and Thursdays at 7 a.m. at the Yaron Field House by the intramural fields. Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. are reserved for long-distance runs and marathon training.
Newcomers and people who are interested are always welcomed to just stop by and tag along. There are no conditioning tests or other requirements, although good running shoes are recommended.
Nonetheless, all participants should be ready for some surprises. Kelly likes to keep her fellow runners on their toes by mixing it up every once in a while. In the past, the club has had runs on the hot South Beach sand with a local runner icon, ominously named “The Raven” as well as “80s-themed” runs, “crazy hat” runs and “Rat” runs, where members all run “the loop” and meet at the Rathskeller afterward to eat.
This fun-loving mentality will soon even be displayed on the club’s T-shirts and sweatbands with the slogan: “Rednecks have nothing on our six-packs and guns”
Overall, the club’s message is clear: Running and having fun can go hand in hand at UM.
Patrick Riley may be contacted at email@example.com.