West Shore is a tribe for runners of all abilities

Section: 
Sports

 

By Barb McKay

 

A new running group in Kincardine combines fitness, friendship and fun – all reasons for even the most novice runners to join.

 

The West Shore Running Tribe isn’t so much a club as it is a community. The tribe was founded a year and a half ago by running enthusiast Pete Richards, who had an epiphany while out for a run with friends Julie Christian, Laura Trepanier and Murray Kraemer. Surely there were other people in Kincardine who would rather run with friends than alone.

 

“I decided it couldn’t be a ‘club’, it had to be free, it would include all abilities and every member would be equal,” Richards said.

 

He excitedly shared his idea with Tonya Schmalz at West Shore Clothing Shoppe. He wanted the club to be inclusive of communities along the lakeshore – Ontario’s west shore – and so the West Shore Running Tribe was founded, with the clothing shop as the main sponsor.

 

An information meeting was held at the Davidson Centre in April 2017 and nearly 50 people showed up to find out what this new running group was all about.

 

“We had a huge showing at our first meeting,” Richards said. “Some felt intimidated by those who were able to run fast or looked fast, but they were reminded in this tribe no one was being voted off the island and we were in this together.”

 

Richards said there are only two rules – have fun and don’t be a jerk. Experienced runners, including Richards and veteran runner Gary Robinson, are there to offer newbie runners suggestions on running styles to minimize the chance of injury and get the most out of their runs.

 

The tribe meets three times each week – Mondays at 5:45 p.m. at the Davidson Centre outdoor track, Thursday at 5:45 p.m. at West Shore and Sundays at Station Beach for a social run. Each gathering begins with a stretch or drill and ends with a cool down.

 

“Before we leave our session, we engage in a huddle, or ‘group hug’ as I call it, and our shout – ‘this tribe rocks!’,” Richards said.

 

The group runs all year round and Richards said only an electrical storm would stop members from running outside.

 

Since joining, West Shore Running Tribe members have accomplished some pretty lofty goals, including completing a 50-kilometre ultra marathon in Niagara. This year, members have qualified for the 2019 New York marathon and Richards has qualified for his fourth Boston marathon. The tribe supports and volunteers at local running events, including the Terry Fox Run, Kincardine Women’s Triathlon, 7K Trail Challenge and Maclean’s Beer Run.

 

Richards didn’t get the running bug until he was in his 50s and has since completed 22 marathons, including the Toronto marathon several years ago, just four weeks after having cardiac surgery. The physical benefits of running, as with any exercise, are many, but Richards said it’s also a great mood booster.

 

“For a lot of people it’s therapy. The neurological benefits exceed the physical ones.”

 

There’s also the social aspect.

 

“We support each other,” Richards said. “We still haven’t lost the fact that we all had to start somewhere. Some folks like to run for fun and fitness, others just like the company, some are short for their first five-k, others are doing greater distances; but we are all in this together.”

 

The tribe has a third rule – no one runs alone. Even if they are running at the back of the pack, everyone has someone to run with.

 

The tribe has developed a strong social media following with more than 220 Facebook followers – some as far away as the United Kingdom. Anyone who is interested in joining the West Shore Running Tribe or would like to learn more, can post a message on the tribe’s Facebook page or drop into West Shore Clothing Shoppe.