Runners rejoice a club of their own
Sharon Streif didn’t know what to expect last month when she started a running club, which meets for a 5k jog every Saturday morning at the Lawn Avenue School.
Streif put the word out in a lowkey kind of way, with an item in the About Town section of the Jamestown Press. She then hung posters at the library, McQuade’s and Baker’s Pharmacy.
Streif, along with husband Matt, a Jamestown native, arrived at the school 15 minutes before the 9 a.m. “gun” on the first day, she said. To her satisfaction, people showed up. Even more gratifying, people have joined their ranks every week. Streif said some turned out to be old childhood friends who have reunited at the running club.
This coming Saturday will mark the club’s fourth session – they skipped last Saturday due to the blizzard. New members of all abilities are welcome, she said.
Streif, a Minnesota native, borrowed the club idea from Bostonarea running clubs, which she had joined over the years. She enlisted in the clubs mainly for the positive reinforcement that comes from being around other runners, she said.
“Everyone is just kind of positive,” Streif says. “People seem to be happy when they’re running. If you go there every week, it encourages you to run on your own once or twice a week.”
Her club may be an island first, several longtime Jamestowners said.
If so, that only makes sense, according to Marisa Quinn, who joined the club with husband Jay Sisson.
“Of course,” Quinn joked, “it takes someone from Minnesota to start a running club in Jamestown in January.”
Jamestown native Steve Furtado also joined, Quinn said, and she noted the runners are a mix of fast and slow. According to Quinn, there is one member, a 22-yearold, who’s “very fast.”
“He runs like a race horse, so we try not to run like Clydesdales,” she quipped.
Quinn, who started running at age 36, said she appreciated the scenic route that Streif has chosen. Although the native Minnesotan is a relative newcomer to town, she found a route that the runners enjoy.
“A really beautiful route, not too hilly, a true 5k,” said Streif.
Streif said she used a website to plot the route. Her goal was to lay out a 5k that avoided traffic and hills. She picked the 9 a.m. start because it’s not too early.
“It’s kind of a good way to start the weekend,” she said. “The club members have gotten outdoors. They’ve exercised. They accomplished something.”
Streif said she might move the run to a weeknight during the hot summer months.
“My goal is to have it continue as long as I’m here,” she said.
Asked if there was a precedent set for a running club on the island, local attorney John Murphy said he can’t recall any other Jamestown running clubs, although over the years, groups of friends have met to run together.
Jim Pemantell, Jamestown native and marathon man, is fairly certain Streif’s club is an island first. He says it is an idea whose time has come, and that he actually mulled starting a club once. “I just never did it,” he said.
Pemantell used to run with the South County Striders, a club based in North Kingstown, and he is thrilled to see an islander start an active running club on Conanicut Island.
“I’m so happy that lady is doing it,” he said.
Running clubs are not just for fast runners, stressed Pemantell, although a lot of people think that’s the case. The club’s value comes in the form of motivation, he said. The athletes want to “get out there” because their friends expect them to show up.
Streif runs about three times a week. “To me, it’s the most efficient way to stay in shape,” she said.
Streif also plays racquetball, and competes in both a tennis league in Jamestown and enters triathlon events around New England.
“I don’t do Ironman,” she said. The triathlon events are running, biking and swimming. Ironman is just a longer version.
Streif, a high school athlete who played softball and volleyball, was a college walk-on at the University of Minnesota but didn’t stick with it. She felt collegiate sports took the joy out of the game, and she stopped competing for a while.
She started running casually 20 years ago around the time she moved to New England. Running was a way to enjoy the outdoors and provide her with exercise she could do on her own.
Streif says she was drawn in by the simplicity of a sport that required just a pair of shoes for gear. Eventually, she started entering races. She has continued to compete, although she considers herself a slow runner and says she does not anticipate ever winning an event.
Her favorite race is probably the Tufts Health Plan 10k for Women, which starts in the Boston Commons and travels along Memorial Drive into Cambridge. She enjoys both the scenery and seeing the star runners. The event is an Olympics qualifier, so a number of world-class athletes compete.