Last updated: March 15. 2013 4:24PM - 525 Views
By - psokoloski@timesleader.com - (570) 991-6392

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When Jeff Skwierz ran out of time at Lock Haven University, he didn't run out of desire to dart past fellow runners.

This is where the impetus behind the Susquehanna River Runners Club really began.

Dozens of guys like him, former college competitors looking to extend their racing days, were suddenly trying to find direction with little help.

For years and years, we kind of trained on our own, did our own type of thing, Skwierz said.

Not anymore.

The Susquehanna River Runners Club will debut with its first group run, beginning at 8 a.m. today at Kirby Park.

The idea behind it is to push area runners to higher standards through regular group training sessions – and expert coaching.

Three members of the Misericordia University track and field coaching staff are on the Susquehanna River Runners Club's five-man board: Cougars head cross country/track and field coach Chris Wadas is the SRRC vice president, along with his college assistants Mike Kinney and Frank Redmond – just three years removed from his days as an NCAA qualifier and ECAC cross country runner-up at Misericordia.

Skwierz is the club's president and is also joined on the SRRC board by Paul Thistle, a former Division III All-American and one of the most decorated runners in Susquehanna University history.

As a coach, I feel a lot of people strive on structure, Wadas said. When you're training and going on runs, it's going to make it a lot easier (to train with fellow runners) when you're going 13 miles. And maybe be more likely to do well in those events.

The new club, sanctioned by the USATF (United States Track and Field), just began accepting members last week. Redmond, the club's secretary, said about 15 area runners had already signed up for the club by Friday afternoon – and more are expected to join before today's workout run and over the coming weeks.

It's a great idea, Redmond said. Just because it's going to get more people involved with the running community we have.

During running competitions that start in the spring, the Susquehanna River Runners Club will feature a select group of about five top-tier men and women who will represent the organization as elite runners.

But that shouldn't stop even the Slo-Joes from signing up for club workouts.

We're not just an elite club, Redmond said. We're going to make anybody welcome.

The group, board members said, plans to train two or three times each week, hold weekly training runs each Sunday, and hold socials the first, third and sometimes the fifth Thursday of each month.

I really think there's a need for it around here, Kinney, 54, said. Some people don't know what to do for speed workouts. I was getting them out of a magazine when I first started.

Then he met Wadas, who gave him a regular, more detailed training regiment. Kenney said it did wonders for his racing. That's the type of instruction the area's newest running club hopes to provide, in an effort to raise competition around the Wyoming Valley to a higher level.

It's great to just get out there and run Skwierz said. And when people start having fun with it, they're going to get better.

Really, there's no age limit and no skill requirement to join – just a desire by interested area runners to improve their performances, along with their health.

They just need to have a pair of shoes and a goal in mind, said Wadas, a four-time team MVP who was selected as Misericordia's Athlete of the Year for 2003-04, when when he ran cross country for the Cougars.

Along with an interest in running with others.

I enjoy running with a group, Kinney said. You can only push yourself so fast when you're running by yourself.

I'm a good example of that, Skwierz said. There have been stages in my life where I haven't run consistently. When you have people running with you, it makes you want to get out there, knowing you're part of something.

The new running group is trying to be careful not to step on the toes of other area running clubs, such as the more-established Wyoming Valley Striders.

No, we're not trying to take away from the Striders, Skwierz said. Some of our board members are also Striders members. We're trying to offer different training of runners.

The group has already landed sponsorship by Murphy's Pub, and is negotiating sponsorship with other area businesses.

My idea is it'll improve the quality of running around the area, Kinney said. And get people trained properly.

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