By Elizabeth Casolo, GHS Class of 2021
Greenwich Road Runners got a head start—shortly after the crack of dawn—on celebrating Global Running Day this Wednesday morning.
Despite meeting semi-weekly (every Wednesday at 6:30am and Saturday at 8:15am), this Wednesday’s meeting had a special atmosphere.
“We run in the dark, run in the cold,” said Donna Rosato, a member of the organization, but Wednesday there was a heightened sense of camaraderie.
Along with the enhanced dynamic, Global Running Day also prompted introspection.
Will Keown, one Greenwich Road Runners director and founder, said, “Running means a lot to me because it kind of brought me to where I am today.” He acknowledged how, for him, “It’s not just the physical attributes of running; it’s the mental” that drew him to the sport.
Chris Cavin, another participant, said, “I love running. I used to hate it.” He credited Greenwich Road Runners for contributing to his progress. After leaving his gym and searching for a new outlet, Cavin joined Greenwich Road Runners and now runs over 20 miles each week.
While taking a break during Wednesday’s run, the group reflected on its past accomplishments. For instance, Ms. Rosato and Mr.Cavin said how fellow member Christine Podber set a personal record and won a recent 5K for her age group.
Greenwich Road Runners is proud of the inclusive community it fosters. Members say the organization reflects diversity in experience levels and backgrounds.
According to Stephen Redwood, a triathlon athlete and director of the club, “We got lots of different speeds… I think that some athletic clubs are really intense, and this is kind of chill.”
“It’s the funniest thing to watch. We gather and start running, and the group stretches out—you have the five minuters, the seven minuters, the 10 minuters and the 12 minuters—but you always have someone to run with,” said director Ric Wellington.
One member, Robert Westley, said that bonding is a major component of the club.
“When you spend a morning together and you talk about a wide range of topics, you just become so close,” he said. “I’ve only been running with them for two years—a year and a half—but, in that short time, we’re really close.”
Mr. Keown added that friendships formed within Greenwich Road Runners transcend the allotted times on Wednesday and Saturday mornings.
He said, “This [the early-morning running] is the worst part of the friendship.”
Still, for those who want to run outside of the scheduled meeting times, the organization has GroupMe and WhatsApp chats for members to coordinate ad hoc runs with others.
“You can always pick somebody up,” Wellington said. “During the week, when we don’t have something organized, we have our own app where people go in and say, ‘I want to run five miles at a 10-minute pace. Anybody want to join me?’”
Other members train for upcoming athletic events together, like 5Ks, half marathons and marathons. While training for a virtual NYC race, Ms. Podber enlisted the support of her peers.
Previously, the group trekked state parks and even the Brooklyn Bridge. Wellington and the club’s other leaders are currently planning a run over the former Tappan Zee Bridge, now the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.
Members of Greenwich Road Runners are local, and, for some, the club allows for a greater appreciation of Greenwich.
Rosato said that with Greenwich Road Runners she frequently explores new parts of town.
Beyond striving for a welcoming environment, family is another important aspect of Greenwich Road Runners. The group hosts family picnics and road trips, and some full families are involved in the club. For example, on Global Running Day, Cavin ran with his daughter Christina.
Founded in 2015, Greenwich Road Runners caters to individuals over the age of 16 who want to engage with the town’s running community. The group began as an informal club at the YMCA before growing into a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. The Greenwich Road Runners is also an official chapter of the Road Runners Club of America.
For those considering running, Keown has one piece of advice: “Start. It’s all about just coming out for the first day.” Rosato and Podber agreed that the pandemic has been “isolating,” but running with others has kept them motivated.
Despite the challenges with COVID-19, Greenwich Road Runners’ enrollment has recovered. Meetings are back in person, and the club is attracting more members since its establishment. On Wednesday, roughly 15-20 members were in attendance.
In terms of members, Cavin said, “The more, the merrier.”
To join Greenwich Road Runners, please visit www.greenwichroadrunners.org or the Greenwich Road Runners page on Strava. There is a $20 annual fee to be a member.