With March’s Runnin’ Of The Green and last Sunday’s Cherry Creek Sneak in the rear-view and the Colfax Marathon and Bolder Boulder 10K on the horizon, racing season in Colorado has begun.
There are few better ways to go for a personal best time at any of the hundreds of races that will dot the state through the end of October, than by joining one of the numerous training groups or a running clubs the Rockies have to offer.
“Camaraderie is always a big plus, but I think it goes a little bit beyond that,” said racer organizer and 18-time marathoner Craig Jenkins, 49, Denver. “When you run with a group, you run faster, you go farther and you run more consistently. All of that will give you a better time in the long run.”
In Colorado there is no shortage of run clubs that cater to all levels. According to Jenkins fast runners (those who run times that could qualify them for the Boston Marathon, for example) can typically be found at most any running club, but it doesn’t mean that they “run” the club.
“Typically your club organizers are going to be people that want to cater to all styles and levels,” Jenkins said. “Elite camps and groups exist as well, but your typical 9-to-5 mom or dad just isn’t going to have the money or time to join those groups. Most people that get out and run aren’t looking to break records or win a race, they just want to run a personal best, or qualify for Boston, or get back into shape. Club organizers know that and cater to it.”
One of the oldest and largest clubs in the Denver Metro area is the Rocky Mountain Road Runners. With just under 1,000 members, the RMRR host races once a month throughout the metro area from as far north as Thornton and as far south as DeKoevend Park in Centennial. Unlike most races, however, the stagger start dynamic of the RMRR races allow runners of all levels to finish together.
“It helps keep you going when you hear someone breathing down your neck and you’re approaching the finish,” said Jenkins who has ran with RMRR as a guest. “With so many members you know you’re going to be among some pretty fast people and those races are a good way to push yourself.”
For those looking for something a little less involved and more happy, Denver and surrounding areas, boast several beer-themed clubs, where runners will typically start at or near brewery or bar and head out for a 5-kilomoter run, jog or walk.
“I’ve been to Denver Beer Co., Joyride Brewery, Max Taps, Lone Tree (Brewing Co.), there are a lot of them,” said Sean Simmons, who, at 36 has put aside his desire to run more than five miles, but likes an excuse to order another drink. “It’s a good time and a chance to meet some good people with a shared interest for fitness and beer.”
The Denver Beer Co. Run Club meets on Tuesday evenings at 6:30 for a run around the Platte Street neighborhood, while the Edgewater Run Club starts its Sloan’s Lake runs at Joyride Brewing Company on Wednesdays at 6 p.m.
Bring the kids
Since having children is no excuse to stop running – at least not in the Centennial State – mothers and moms-to-be can find a group that caters to them in the Active Mamas and Moms-To-Be running club.
According to their description the club offers moms-to-be and moms with kids of all ages the opportunity to stay active during their pregnancy and get back into shape afterwards. Now toting over 1,000 members, the club includes activities that go beyond running including hiking and strength-training workouts. They meet on Wednesday mornings for track runs at 10 a.m. at Mountain Vista High School in Highlands Ranch.