Updated: Jan 2, 2019
They say a rolling stone gathers no moss. For awhile I was a rolling stone. Over the course of the last decade I have lived in six different states, and at nearly a dozen different addresses. Along the way I parted with almost all my possessions. When I moved out to Colorado over two years ago I left my mattress in my parent’s garage and a few roll-away suitcases containing dishes in their shed, my books are currently gathering dust in their basement beside high school scrapbooks and well-loved childhood toys.
Moss might refer to physical baggage, in which case I tend to agree, my rolling around has left me pleasantly unburdened by possessions. But moss might also refer to roots, in which case I would have to disagree, my rolling around has given me plenty of roots: an amazing, extended running family!
I was 23 when I moved to Oklahoma. Situated about 90 miles southwest of Oklahoma City, Lawton is a sprawling grid of streets with no shortage of novelty shops to entice the young Soldier. There are pawn shops, smoke shops, gun shops, and used car shops. Massage parlors and strip clubs, and yes, even some buffalo. The largely treeless landscape makes the sky seem infinite. Ft Sill was established in the 1860’s, in the midst of a winter campaign during the period of the Indian Wars. The small encampment housed six cavalry units during a particularly harsh plains winter, including members of the 10th Cavalry Regiment, which history also refers to as the Buffalo Soldiers. The post is the final resting place for the famous Comanche warrior Geronimo, as well ‘Atomic Annie,’ the world’s first atomic towed artillery piece.
A lot of things about Oklahoma were foreign to me, and most days I felt pretty lonely. My relationship with running was on the rocks, but somehow I found my way to the post Army Ten Mile team tryout. There I met a wonderful amalgamation of running weirdos, all with different stories and different reasons why they pounded out the miles each morning, afternoon, and evening. They took me in as their own without judgment, the simple fact that I enjoyed the repetitive, sometimes mundane, other times heartbreaking ritual of lacing up my shoes to do battle with the pavement each day was enough. Finding this group of road warriors at Ft Sill made me feel at home, and as I moved from place to place over the years, this became my modus operandi: find the runners, gain instant family.
In Afghanistan I befriended a very casual group of runners who were training for a half marathon that some German commandos were putting on at a camp down the road. I joined them for daily runs around our tiny camp, covered in a powdery, flour-like substance which Soldiers referred to as ‘moon dust’. The race consisted of 15 laps around the perimeter of the German camp, skirting motor pools lined with constantia wire.
In New Jersey I found a group of runners who gathered at the local running store every Saturday. They were a talented group who I clicked off mile after mile with along the brick-covered streets of the affluent township of Moorestown just across the Delaware river from Philadelphia.
Moving back home to Massachusetts after leaving the active Army, I started working at a run specialty store. There I reconnected with a girl who had long ago been my high school rival. We shared many a mile recounting our high school duels and catching each other up on everything that had transpired since. In Massachusetts I also started coaching a youth team. Every day after school an unruly group of 13 yr old girls would pile out of mini vans in front of the running store, Snapchatting and giggling. But for all their naivety, they trained extremely hard.
When I moved to Colorado, I found an amazing group of women to train with. Under the direction of a rather eccentric coach, we pushed our limits on the tracks, trails, and roads around Denver as we realized sometimes long forgotten running dreams.
Each group of runners that I have had the privilege of sharing miles with has had a distinct dynamic. Some have included people who have been running their entire lives, while others have been made up of those who have found running for one reason or another, for health, for sanity, or for a sense of community. Some groups were full of PR chasers, while others ran for the pure joy of it. However, regardless of the composition and characteristics of these groups, some things have remained universal: The people have been amazing, accepting, gritty, and dedicated, and the miles have been extremely memorable.
Want to find your running community in the Denver area? Here are some great places to start:
Run Groups :
Runner’s Roost is a Colorado staple. There are nine store locations throughout the Denver metro area that all host weekly (and sometimes bi-weekly) run clubs. All meetups are open to runners of all ability levels, and most include post-run snacks! Check them out here: https://runnersroost.com/run-club/
Boulder Rogue Runners
The Boulder Rogue Runners is for all of those who enjoy getting out and breaking a sweat and then topping it off with an awesome craft brew and some great conversation. They meet up every Tuesday at Boulder’s Fate Brewery and then proceed to run a beautiful 5k route in and around the Boulder Creek Path. At the end of the run, the group enjoys cold craft brews, great food and conversation. All levels of runners (or walkers) are welcome.
Mile High Runners
Are you looking for a running group that meets early enough to fit in your busy schedule? Give Mile High Runners a try. They meet Tuesday mornings at 5:30 and Saturdays at 6 (summer) or 6:30 (winter). They are based out of Erie, Colorado, but meet for speed and group runs at various locations in and near Erie.
Denver Track Club
DTC caters to runners in event groups ranging from short sprints to ultramarathon. If you’re looking for another shot at a high school or college PR, this group competes in many local college and open meets during the cross country, winter, and spring track seasons. They meet at South High School at 6:30pm on Tuesdays, and 9:30am on Saturdays. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
A dedicated core group of post-collegiate runners is the cornerstone of this group, which focuses on distances from the 800-marathon. Practices are held at South High School/Washington Park on Tuesdays at 6:00pm, and Saturdays (time TBD). Contact: email@example.com
Boulder Track Club
The Boulder Track Club’s aim is “to create an identifiable running club within the community that caters to individuals of all ages, abilities and running preference. Whether it is Track, XC, Road, Mountain, Ultra or Trail running, the Boulder Track Club’s role is to unite everyone under one umbrella of representation through the sport of running.” The Club offers community runs, as well as a high performance and developmental team with corresponding performance standards. http://bouldertrackclub.com/