When Brock Spahr stepped onto Ball State’s campus as a freshman in 2019, he carried his passion for cross country running with him. Now, as a junior, Spahr belongs to a community of runners with Ball State’s Run Club — an organization that allows people of all paces and abilities to get together and run.
“I could tell I found a group of people that live a similar lifestyle,” said Spahr, who is the treasurer of the Run Club. “I’m ecstatic about expanding and bolstering our influence.”
When Ball State shifted classes online in March 2020 due to COVID-19 concerns, the Run Club was not allowed to practice together or compete in races. However, as some restrictions for organizations are being lifted this semester, Ball State’s Run Club meets at 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday at Lewellen Pool.
During a meet, the runners split off into three groups based on how far they choose to run. For casual runners, the longest distance is 3.21 miles while intermediate runners can run up to 8.4 miles and advanced runners can run 10.5 miles. After their 3 p.m. meet on Fridays, the club ends its week playing games like ultimate frisbee.
Like Sphar, senior computer technology major Zack DeSimone joined the Run Club his freshman year after running for his high school’s cross country and track team. As president of the Run Club, DeSimone said he has seen more and more runners join the club each fall.
“When I joined, I was looking for a team away from the professional teams, but I found something much more with all the friendships I’ve made and all the experiences I’ve gotten to have,” DeSimone said.
DeSimone said he has been training and trying to stay in condition so the team can pick up where they left off in 2019, but it’s hard to stay motivated when they’re not practicing together. To stay motivated this year, the club is focusing on practicing together and attending meets again, like they had done in prior years.
Like other sports at Ball State, runners compete in races during the school year. They have two different seasons — cross country in the fall and the choice of track or road races in the spring.
During the cross country season, DeSimone said, the men on the team run an 8-kilometer race, which is a little less than 5 miles, and the women run a 6-kilometer race, which is a little less than 4 miles.
“We’re still waiting to hear from sports clubs on how we are going to practice and how we can go to meets, but we are currently in the process of setting up one of our own meets,” DeSimone said. “I know a bunch of other schools like Michigan State, Michigan University and Miami University in Ohio have all contacted us about hosting meets, so we’re getting back into the normal schedule of things this season.”
Hollyn Anderson, a senior health education and promotion major, said she has been running since high school and began running again her freshman year of college to stay healthy. Anderson was running on her own, she said, until she realized how much she missed running with other people like she had in high school.
Once Anderson joined the Run Club and practiced with the team, she said, she was able to push her limits and achieve more than she knew she could.
“I never thought I could run a marathon,” Anderson said. “Without run club, I wouldn’t have done that, so I feel like it’s encouraged me to do things I didn’t think I could do.”
While the Run Club didn’t meet during the 2020-21 school year, the club is back together again, and Spahr said he looks forward to what the season will bring and hopes to get more underclassmen involved in the Run Club’s community.
“Unfortunately, half of the campus population doesn’t know what it’s like to be on a club at Ball State,” Spahr said. “I want to make Run Club a place where people find it easy to engage and work on bettering themselves through running.”