Thursday, June 4, 2009

Steve Prefontaine Would be Proud

When there is a need and a leader steps up, good things happen. Such was the case in July of 2006 when Richard Amernick joined a meetup running group and heard that it either needed a new leader or it might go to the ducks. And so the DC Capital Striders came to life.

Now while there is strength in numbers (the group is currently at 1300+ active members), this wasn't always the case with the Striders. In the beginning, through the meetup site, Richard scheduled runs downtown at the Smithsonian metro-stop. Runners of all endurance levels, paces, and strides were encouraged to meet Thursday nights @6:30 sharp for a 4-5 mile run that started on the mall, and took several routes. The Thursday night runs promised to provide good company, sites of the monuments, and some calorie burning activity. And the group grew.

As months went by, Richard started getting requests from current and prospect members to schedule more runs. A Monday night Smithsonian run was added to the calendar and soon "Monday became the new Thursday." Some members decided to run marathons and long runs on Sundays were added to the calendar, often 20+ miles. As more members started to come out, laces tied and carbohydrates ready to be burned, members realized they had more in common than just their Asics. And with this, other events were added to the Capital Striders calendar. In the summer months, tubing outings were planned, pizza dinners were had, and volleyball games were spiked. In the winter, runners made trips to watch the Capitals play at the Verizon center, and touch football games went down, players adorned in sweatshirts and gloves, of course.

500 members, 1000 members... When the number of members began to hit close to 1200 members, Richard realized the group had potential outside of just morning, afternoon and nightly runs and outings. He realized that for all the group gave the runners, there was an opportunity to give back. And so the idea of creating a non-profit, 501(c) was conceived. Incorporating the group of runners would allow the group to work with corporations, donating money to worthy causes. This became a reality on May 15. Shortly thereafter, the Capital Striders had its inaugural 8k race in Georgetown, Washington DC. The race drew over 125 runners, including Michael Wardian, world renowned long-distance runner from Arlington, VA.

Capital Striders schedules fun, casual weekly runs all over the DC Metropolitan area for runners of all endurance levels. Distance runs are scheduled for those training for half, full and ultra marathons. And plans are already in place for the second Capital Striders race, now to be a regular opportunity for all those looking to work on their PR and compete with their friends (and maybe foes too).

In addition to the running, Capital Striders provides non-running related events for members to get to know each other through a variety of activities as well as opportunities for those interested to volunteer at sanctioned races in the area/community.

The Capital Striders Running Group, LLC is a true example of a symbiotic relationship. Runners can meet new friends - "the fastest 200 friends you'll ever make" as said by a long time Strider, get/stay in shape, give back to the community and have something to be proud of. Capital Striders members also get discounts at local running stores and other athletic related businesses.

If you are a crazy runner like the rest of us (or crazy runner wannabe) stop by for a meetup with the Capital Striders. You'll most likely go home with more than just a good workout.

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