By Kim Dunbar
“We’re not an elite group,” said Sharry, wellness director of Worcester’s Central Community YMCA. “We’re just a regular group of runners.”
Sharry started the team in February, 2010 because Worcester announced its inaugural half marathon that June. “I wanted to develop a running culture here,” he said, adding that he put up a Facebook page to draw interest. “I thought if I got five people that would be awesome. We ended up taking 93 people to the half. Ten percent of the runners were from our team.”
Word of Sharry’s team spread. “When we all walked in together it was like people parted the way as we came through,” he explained. “People wanted to know about it.”
His Facebook page now has 361 likes, and last year the team had around 150 members (active and inactive). Just three short weeks into 2012, there were already 65 committed members.
The team, which starts up this month, meets twice a week to run together and Sharry, a certified personal trainer, provides a training schedule for the remaining days. Membership includes access to all cross-training activities like yoga, cycling, Pilates and swimming at the Y as well as nutrition workshops and other speakers Sharry brings in to help educate his team.
Sharry said the team determines its goals as a group. This year’s biggest goal is to run the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., the team’s first planned race outside New England.
“We’re always working toward something,” said Sharry. While not everyone participates in the major goal, most people do. At the 2010 Cape Cod Marathon, 20 of the 24 runners Sharry took with him were first-time marathoners.
“You don’t need to be an experienced runner,” he said. “I’ve taken people who have never run a step in their lives and in six months they completed a full marathon.”
Sharry also takes members to shorter races, like 5Ks and 10Ks. “We’re not fast,” he said. “We have 14-minute-per-mile and 7-minute-per-mile runners.”
During team runs, Sharry groups members into pods according to pace to ensure that no one is left behind. “Being part of a team, you’re not alone,” he said. “There are other new runners with you and veterans are also there to support you.”
There’s that power in numbers.
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