New Richmond club shares love of runningThe New Richmond Running Club was formed in 1987 when a handful of people started informally running together.
By: By Jeff Holmquist, New Richmond News
A local group has a long history of keeping members fit.
The New Richmond Running Club was formed in 1987 when a handful of people started informally running together.
“It was just a couple of guys getting together for a little exercise after work,” said Jim Heebink, one of the charter members of the club. “And we enjoyed each other’s company.”
The group coined the name New Richmond Running Club in 1992 after eight of the local runners formed a team to compete in a 100K relay competition. The group’s name has stuck ever since.
“We’ve been consistent through all these years,” Heebink said. “And from time to time we add a few new members.”
Running is popular for many people because you don’t need a lot of expensive equipment and you don’t have to have a specialized court to participate, Heebink said.
“It’s kind of a simple sport,” he said. “And it’s able to fit into a lot of people’s schedules.”
Diane Belter of Somerset was the first woman to join the group and the club has transformed into a co-ed organization.
From its humble beginnings, the club has expanded in membership and planned activities through the years.
Today, the club touts about 80-90 members, although only about 40-50 participate in club activities on a regular basis. The ages of the club’s membership range from the 20s to the 60s, according to Heebink.
“What’s unusual about the club is we don’t have any dues, nor do we have any business meetings,” Heebink explained. “We do have a banquet in March, where we eat a lot of good food, talk smart and hand out a lot of awards.”
The club promotes three scheduled runs each week, starting in the parking lot of First National Community Bank. Runs on Tuesday and Wednesday begin at 5 p.m. A Saturday run starts at 7 a.m., with participants ending at Kim’s Café in downtown New Richmond at the conclusion of the route. The traditional club member breakfast is pancakes.
During the scheduled runs, club members stay together for the first half mile or so. But as participants get warmed up, they begin to run at their own pace.
“Some of us enjoy the run longer than others,” said Heebink, commenting on the varied speeds at which each member runs.
The group hosts several running events throughout the year, including the Heritage Days 5-mile and 5K race in New Richmond. The group also plans a Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day run each year.
“We are not all elite runners,” Heebink said. “We just like running.”
The club does tout quite a few members who run in marathons throughout the year, but people aren’t expected to be marathon runners in order to join the group, he said.
“Some people in the club have never run a marathon or even a half marathon,” he said.
For those who do want to run marathons, Heebink said the club offers plenty of support and advice as members train for such races.
“There’s a lot of support we provide for each other,” Heebink said. “If you have a support system, it makes things a lot easier.”
To help encourage potential new runners in the New Richmond area, and attract possible new members, the club offers a “First Steps” running class for beginners each spring. The 13-week course is directed by volunteers from the club and coordinated by the New Richmond Community Education office.
The club tries to get involved in other ways throughout the community, other than just running. The group has participated in the Relay for Life to raise funds for the American Cancer Society. They also ring bells for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign during the holidays and members help with an Adopt-A-Highway clean-up effort twice a year.
To stay connected, the New Richmond Running Club sends out a newsletter every two months. The organization’s website, www.nrrunclub.com, also provides information about club activities and upcoming race opportunities in the region.
In 2010, some 13 million runners competed in 23,000 different running events across the United States, Heebink said. That compares with just 4 million runners participating in races just 10 years ago.
According to the 2011 National Runner Survey, conducted by Running USA, 54 percent of runners today are female and 46 percent are male. The average age of a female runner is 38 and the average age of male runners is 44.
According to the survey, the runners are motivated to run in order to stay in shape (80.7 percent), stay healthy (77.4 percent), have fun (66.1 percent) and relieve stress (64.3 percent).