I thought I’d explain the genesis of Muskoka Algonquin Runners (ok, from now on MARS!), or Life On MARS.
I and several other adults in our community have had the privilege of coaching some fine young teenagers on the Huntsville Hoyas Cross Country Running Team (?HHCCRT). In my case, over the last 4 years I’ve slowly been learning how to be a coach, and have been amazed at the dedication and capacity of these young runners. They want to be successful and it is hard to say no to them. For some, success is simply getting in shape, and for others it’s winning. The cross country season is so short that it’s almost over before it has begun. The kids are aware of a phrase we use: “Cross country running is a summer sport played in the fall”, meaning your best chances of success occur if you arrive in the fall in good shape. So, a few years back we started offering informal and optional runs for kids beginning in August. As these became more popular and I took a coaching course I realized we had no liability protection if a child or an adult were injured outside of the school year. Although I did not want to get too tied up in the machinery of this, I also did not want to put anyone at risk. At the same time, I was thinking what a great and diverse running community we have here in Muskoka. I have been very fortunate to meet so many great people through running as well as participate in so many great local races. That thought and the dilemma of providing safe running opportunities for teens in the summer lead to the idea for a running club. Steve Jones and Rob Horton were fantastic resources for getting things started, and Athletics Ontario patiently answered all my questions. When I emailed my running contacts in the community, I was blown away by the response. Not only were people eager to be part of a running club, I had 15 people respond that they would love to offer some time this summer to lead runs for whoever showed up. Teenagers seem most interested if their peers participate so this is an ideal solution.
We have tentative plans to offer 4 days of weekday running per week this summer, on a very casual drop in basis. Runners of all ages and abilities will be welcome as long as they join the club (and thus are covered by our insurance policy). We also have the added perk of taking advantage of the fabulous Sunday Morning Running Group in Huntsville (see their Facebook page), who have done a great job of promoting Sunday runs in Huntsville for years.
We may lay low over the winter this year but look to start organizing some runs in early spring.