PLYMOUTH - The dependability slogan for the postal service applies to runners as well. Neither rain, nor snow, sleet, or hail (or something like that) will keep the mail from being delivered or a devoted runner from getting in a workout.
Apparently, neither does a worldwide pandemic.
The past couple of months have been trying for exercise enthusiasts as the number of options seems to get smaller and smaller by the day. You can do this, you can’t do that; maybe you can try this, maybe you can’t. This is open, now it’s not. Runners though, have continued to pound the pavement with only minor adjustments.
“People are still running, but instead of groups of 3, 4, 5 or 6, it has gone to 1 or 2,” said Morris Riddle, the president of the Marshall County Running Club (MCRC). “People are running then posting where they ran and chatting about what they’ve done and where they’ve run. ‘Look what I saw, what did you see?’”
The MCRC was founded five years ago to promote running in the community. Besides providing social contacts with other runners, the club helps sponsor races and provides a running scholarship every year for a distance runner from Marshall County. The club sponsored the Pi race in Plymouth on March 14 (named because the date, 3-14, is the start of the number pi) just before the pandemic officially hit and had 20 runners. Most recently it held a modified May The Fourth Be With You run (on, surprise, May 4), with the registration money used to help people with rural medical debt.
“That’s what I love about the running club - it doesn’t matter how fast you are or how slow you are or how far you can go, runners meet because there is a cause and giving back to the community,” added Riddle. “A lot of the runners are community-minded and will choose races based on where the proceeds go. The running club keeps the cost to race low, donates money to charitable causes, and runners are able to get together and have a good time.”
The MCRC is one of a number of groups that meet regularly to get some exercise in while enjoying the company of others, while keeping social distancing in mind. Other local groups that meet regularly include some triathletes that start at 5 a.m. or the Yellow River group that meets at Centennial Park, but for many, the solitude of running solo is the draw. With minimal equipment needs (good shoes!) but rewarding benefits, it’s just a matter of finding a time and place - and maybe a partner or two.
“Where do people run? Everywhere,” Riddle continued. “Runners like variety. The Greenway Trail is nice. Potawatomi Trail, Potato Creek, roads in the country, every runner is different. Some like roads, some like trails.
They’re all over at all times.”
COVID-19 has crept into the runner’s world, but technology has helped offset its effect.
“Part of the loss (of enjoyment due to the coronavirus pandemic) is not being able to run with large groups,” Riddle said. “But there are apps where you can challenge your friends (‘I ran miles today in such and such time’). We’ve all gotten to that virtual world.”
But whether it’s a modified race, a traditional race, a jog in the woods, or just a jaunt down the street to get some fresh air and exercise, running for pleasure is alive and well.