MUMS athletes run through the cold and snow

MIDDLEBURY — When the track and field season begins at the Middlebury Union Middle School this spring a handful of athletes started out in a little better shape than they might have, thanks to an informal winter running program.
At the end of last fall’s cross-country season a group of the athletes felt that they had built up a good base of fitness and didn’t want it to atrophy over the winter. So they asked their coaches, Wendy Hollander and Karen Morris, if they would continue practices over the course of the winter.
Morris laughed when she recalled the enthusiasm with which the teenagers made their request.
“Well, we have jobs,” she said. “But we could do it on Mondays and Fridays.”
So, beginning in November, they met twice a week, anyone was welcome. They ran a few miles each time. Morris said there was a core group of nine who showed up every week, and the troupe could grow to 12 or more. A total of 18 participated at some level.
“It was hard for some of them (to come regularly) with other winter sport commitments and drama club in the winter,” Morris said.
They ran up to eight miles during each session, and the kids tracked their mileage. Two runners logged more than 100 miles — Julian Schmitt (120 miles) and Jack Koskinen (116). Others with prodigious mileage totals were Brenden Wagner, Willem Landis, Archie Milligan, Meigan Clark, Abigail Benz, Indigo Woods and Sonja Mecham.
Morris was impressed with their dedication, even during inclement weather.
“When they asked us to do this we figured that we would have a few show up and that once the weather got really bad they would lose interest, but I think they enjoyed the days when the weather was challenging the most,” she said. “They’ve run through some crazy weather.”
Morris noted that one student told her that if he wasn’t running he would have been home sitting in front of the TV.
“He said, ‘It keeps me from getting fat,’” she said.
Now the runners are tuning up for meets this spring. A couple of them are so excited about training that they are planning to run on two-person teams in this May’s Maple Run half marathon.
Morris was most impressed by the attitude and self-motivation of the seventh- and eighth-graders.
“They are a great group of kids,” she said.

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