In Fall 2016, then-freshman Meghan Beahan walked into the campus organizations fair with one goal in mind: to continue running, but not on the varsity level. The search for a running club came up empty, forcing Beahan to run on her own for the first semester.
But she said this began to get boring, prompting her to start her own running club. Beahan, the club’s current president, started the running club at the end of last year. She was a varsity cross-country runner in high school and wanted to continue running in college. Beahan felt that being a varsity athlete wasn’t the right fit for her due to the time commitment and trying to balance academics.
Sophomore Zoë Freer-Hessler is the co-founder of the club with Beahan. They lived on the same floor in West Tower last year, and when their resident assistant asked everyone to share a fun fact, Freer-Hessler and Beahan said they enjoy running. Freer-Hessler said she also did not want to be on the varsity cross-country team due to other time commitments.
The club has 30 runners, Beahan said.
“I’m passionate about running because of how inclusive it is,” Beahan said. “Anyone can be a runner as long as they have a little motivation and a pair of shoes. I love seeing people who never thought they would enjoy running give it a try and watching how much they improve.”
The club’s executive board aims to meet the needs of runners of all levels. Their practices consist of group runs, so everyone can run in a group that is similar to their own pace.
“We run as far as we could go,” sophomore Matthew Price said. “If there are people who cannot go too far, they can just turn around and go back to where we started at the Athletics and Events Center. I would say practices are easy. The only way they can be hard is if you run too far and/or push it too hard.”
The runs are out-and-back, so runners can turn back toward campus whenever they want. The club holds practices Mondays and Wednesdays at 4:30 p.m and Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. There is also one speed workout a week.
“It takes nothing to join,” sophomore Jessica Humann, training coordinator for the club, said. “All we ask is that you show up with a positive attitude and desire to become a better runner.”
For runners with a passion for competition, the club offers several options where they will compete against other club teams. The executive board will notify club members about any local road races, which could be anything from a 1-mile fun run to a half-marathon. The club plans to participate in several cross-country meets this fall, outdoor track meets in the spring and possibly some indoor track meets this winter.
Junior Devin McQuillan, the club’s secretary, said the club only had the chance to compete in one track and field meet last spring — the Binghamton Banana Relays.
“It was a fun meet where people got the chance to be very competitive, racing in a 3000m run, the mile, hurdles and other competitive on-the-track events while others could dress in banana suits and run just for the fun of it,” McQuillan said.
Beahan has had her hands full for the past few weeks while balancing the creation of the running club and academics, but she said she has found a way to make it all work.
“It’s definitely tricky to balance both sometimes, especially since we are a new club, so we still have to have a lot of meetings to work out club logistics,” Beahan said. “Running is a good way to de-stress from academics, though, so it all balances out in the end.”
Editor’s Note: Freer-Hessler is the assistant proofreader of The Ithacan.