Group running is fun ... and motivating

Another running season is upon us, and people are afoot all over Durango shaking off the winter cobwebs.

This time of year is great with the trails drying out, the flowers blooming and the sun warming your skin while the wind whirls from every direction. Those who have kept their New Year’s resolutions now can expand their fitness routines to include some outdoor running.

Durango Motorless Transit has been promoting group running opportunities for more than 30 years and continues to provide a variety of venues for people to get together and experience the fun and camaraderie of training with others.

Back in 2000, Marc Witkes started inviting friends to join him for weekly trail runs on the Colorado Trail at Junction Creek. A few years later, Jim Nichols suggested they expand and organize a schedule of trail runs using a variety of local trails and advertise it around town and on the DMT website.

“I liked the trail run concept, but it seemed ridiculous to run at one location,” Nichols said.

So in 2002, a schedule was put together, and Nichols became the primary leader each week.

“During those early years, we always had a good-sized group and went out for a burger afterward,” Nichols said.

That was 10 years ago, and the Thursday night trail runs continue to be successful and well-attended by all levels of runners. Over the years, there have been some changes: moving start and end dates, rotating leaders and this year pushing the time up to 5:30 p.m. to allow for more daylight during the fringe seasons.

“These runs are intended more as social outings for runners to make new running friends and learn about the trails,” Nichols said.

The DMT weekly track workouts sprang up in 1977 when a small group of runners began meeting downtown at Purgatory Sports for weekly runs. Over the years the runners, workouts and meeting places have changed, but the Tuesday track workouts still are on the schedule at the Durango High School track.

Some years, there have been coaches who would suggest workouts that the group could modify to meet their training goals. Currently, most of the runners do their own thing, although there usually is someone in attendance who can guide and suggest for those new to track workouts.

Another group-running opportunity is the Saturday morning group that meets at Durango Joe’s at 732 E. College Drive. This began in 2002, when Matt Kelly was coaching the first Galloway program for runners to compete in the Durango Marathon.

“They have sustained because they are really all about having fun, being social and achieving goals,” Kelly said. “No matter what, the group makes the run better. It’s easier than being alone and more fun. With the group, I think we all run more than we would on our own.”

It has remained a constant year-round opportunity to stay fit and encourages all levels through group support and camaraderie.

Whatever your running ability, DMT offers something to help keep you motivated and to enjoy getting out with other like-minded runners. Check out the schedule on the DMT website at www.go-dmt.org.Happy running.

Reach Marjorie Brinton at runswim55@gmail.com.