+4 4 votes

Club Runs - Thursday Night Fever

Written by Andy Dappen

I had fallen off the jogging/running curve. Running used to be my go-to exercise for staying in shape. It’s not that I liked it, it’s simply that it was fast and effective. There was no need to drive anywhere, I just needed to get out the door (a multi-hour process to psyche myself up, of course) and go. Because of knee problems about two years ago, however, I'd fallen off the running training curve and more joint-friendly sports had picked up the slack.

This past Thursday my scheduled workout routine was cancelled so I opted to try the Club Run that RunWenatchee organizes each Thursday evening. I had been told that even for people like me -- who run for exercise, not for pleasure – the runs were fun. So I came. Steve Maher and Joel Rhyner, two of the three partners who spearhead RunWenatchee were manning the sign-in table, so I did what I usually do when getting psyched-up to run – I procrastinated. Under the guise of journalism there were questions to be asked:

* Q: How long have these Club Runs been happening? A: Since January 3 of this year.

* Q: Why? A: Because local runners were requesting them. Because these runs have a social element where you can talk with friends before, during, or after the run. And because these runs have been hugely successful in other cities.

* Q: How have the numbers been here? A: Great. Over 300 people have done at least one run since January and tonight’s attendance (over 150 runners) was common.

* Q: Will the participation level off? A: Sure, but probably at much higher numbers because the temperatures are just warming up and the evenings are about to get much longer with the change to daylights savings time.

* Q: What else is inspiring people to come? A: 1) They’re free. 2) Drinking perhaps – a percentage of people imbibe with friends at the Saddle Rock Brewery afterward. 3) Bribes – those who participate in 10 runs get a RunWenatchee badge of honor in the form of a boastful T-shirt. 4) Dog friendliness – lots of people are running with their leashed dogs and one dog gets crowned the "Honorary Weekly Run Club Dog" (the dog’s mug goes on the club's Facebook page).

* Q: When will these runs end this year? A: Never-ever. This is an on-going event. The runs started in the middle of winter and people came so apparently the season matters not to the demented (my choice of label). 

* Q: How far are people running? A: Currently most are running either 5K or 10K roundtrips.

Runner Tina Wagner denies being "only in it for the shirt".

Eventually I had asked all the sensible questions and asking for the value of pi to at least 500 digits threw my interviewees over the edge. They suggested I beat the darkness by beating tail. There was nothing else to do but start the hideous job of actually running. Off I went with a small group of others. That inspired me to run strong. And then there were all those people who were out ahead of me and already coming back. Some of them knew me so I had to keep up the impression of running strong. I flew along the Loop Trail like a gale wind blasting off of the Pacific. Or maybe I was just a gentle spring zephyr who was breathing like a gale wind. No matter, at least I was moving now. There were actually those there moving even slower than me and knowing that such people existed inspired me to keep running like the wind. Of course there were others blowing past me. They, too, inspired me to get back into this game and to give them what-for later – whether in this life or in the next, I will have my revenge.

The turn around for the 5K run arrived, but I wasn’t about to waste all that procrastination on such a short distance. Onward I plodded doggedly to the 10K turnaround. On the way back, the tightness in the hips, thighs, and lower back revealed how lame of a runner I had become -- though once a hound, I was nothing but a hobbler now. Mentally, however, I was feeling good and I left actually feeling inspired about getting back into running. I can’t say that I understand why this is true -- frequently stupidity has no explanation.


To participate in one of the Club Runs, arrive at the sign-in table outside of the Saddle Rock Brewery in downtown Wenatchee between 5 and 6 p.m. on any Thursday. There is no fee to pay and no membership needed. Just sign-in and go. After 10 sessions you earn bragging rights through one of those coveted T-shirts (also free). After 50 sessions you earn an even more exclusive T-shirt. More info here.

Gus commutes to the Club Runs from Leavenworth and also denies being "in it for the shirt".