I love everything about this story that comes from my friend Pam.

Here’s the situation: Pam, a great runner and training partner who is gearing up for next month’s Gazelle Girl Half Marathon, was traveling recently for her middle school-aged daughter’s swim meet in Zeeland, Mich. Pam is a big fan of Gazelle Sports–I have to give her credit for introducing me to my very first Gazelle Sports experience last fall when we were in the Portage/Kalamazoo area for a cross-country meet–and she of course wanted to make a stop at the Holland store during the swim meet weekend.

So there she was, perusing the clothing and shoes and talking with the very helpful Aleksandra Schab, and they got talking about Pam’s race calendar.

“In any good running store, they’re going to ask you if you’re training for anything,” says Pam, who shared with this Gazelle Sports team member that she had 10-12 miles on her training schedule that weekend.

That’s when Pam discovered she needn’t make this long run a solo endeavor. Aleksandra informed her that the store had a group that met regularly to run long on the weekends. What’s more, there would be aid stations every two miles on the out-and-back course. They meet at 8 a.m. at an area elementary school, she was told.

With her daughter’s blessing, Pam decided Why Not?

Pam admits that getting up that morning in a different city and meeting with, well, strangers to run long was completely out of her comfort zone. Would she fit in? Would she be able to find others with a similar pace? 

But she pushed these worries aside and decided to have fun. It was a great opportunity to run with other like-minded people–runners who were dedicated and who were training for races, too. Also, these runners knew great running routes.

“It was so nice because I didn’t have to know that area,” she says. “This really made it awesome.”

Pam was among 45-50 runners who showed up that morning for a run. She found a group running an 8:30 pace. She ended up running 12 miles.

The larger group thinned out and Pam ended up running with a smaller group of about nine to 12 people.

“They were fun–they didn’t make me feel excluded at all,” she says. “I met such nice people.”

The picture she snapped post-run says it all. It reminds me yet again of the power and generosity and kindness that is so prevalent in the running community.

Have you ever ran with a new-to-you running group in a different city? How’d it go?






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