• EJC marathoners foster friendships through running

  • Jer McDermed never would have thought she’d become one of the faces of the Eastern Jackson County running scene.

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  • Jer McDermed never would have thought she’d become one of the faces of the Eastern Jackson County running scene.
    But about a year ago, while McDermed was training for her first marathon, she decided to get a few friends together to run with her after the early-morning workouts started to become a grind. Their club started with just seven people when McDermed decided to start the Runbelievable group.
    McDermed’s goal with the group was to provide a local running club for runners of all types. There are numerous running clubs in the area, but McDermed saw a need for a more inclusive one.
    “There’s other running clubs but it’s with people who all run eight-minute miles,” said McDermed, 31, a Fort Osage High School graduate who lives in Blue Springs. “I run 15-minute miles.”
    It didn’t take long to grow. The club, which doesn’t require dues but is donation-based, will celebrate its one-year anniversary on July 7 and it already has 350 members. On Saturday mornings, when the group goes on runs between 6 to 18 miles, anywhere from 15 to 50 people show up.
    The club’s explosion illustrates the social nature of distance runners throughout the area. At a recent birthday party, McDermed said she looked around and realized that all but a few of her friends in attendance were running buddies.
    “My social network just exploded,” she said.
    Sally Bowerman is also a well-known figure within the EJC running community. She started the Run Sally Run Facebook page to keep local runners informed of local races, training, giveaways and discounts. The page currently has 1,230 likes.
    “I started the page whenever I started running and felt like I didn’t have someone to go to tell me that this is a good race or this is what you should do when you run,” said Bowerman, 31, another Fort Osage grad who lives in Blue Springs and has run five marathons. “So I just started a page to connect the running community and tell people what races were going on.”
    Running is especially personal for Bowerman, whose regular workout partners include her dad and mom, Steve and Fran Horning, and sister Amy Craft. In 2010, Bowerman convinced her father to start running for exercise and now he’s completed six marathons and is training to run the Boston Marathon next year.
    The last four years, the entire family has run the Hospital Hill Run half marathon together.
    “We try to have fun in the races we do together,” said Steve Horning, 59, who lives in Independence. “We don’t go for records, like in the Hospital Hill Run, we love that race. We try to run together and stay together during the race and at the end we’ll hold hands and raise our arms up when we cross the finish line.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Ali Hatfield, a Grain Valley resident and Blue Springs South High School graduate, has her own running pack. Just about every morning she goes on jogs with her friends Diana Stauffer and Stacy Scalfaro, who both live in Lee’s Summit.
    For Hatfield, lacing up her shoes and taking off with her pals is therapeutic.
    “My running time is my social time,” said Hatfield, who has run four marathons and is training to run the New York City Marathon this fall. “It’s our therapy sessions, as I always say. We do our runs early in the morning before we have to go to work and it just starts the day off on the right tone.”
    For some, it’s a chance to bond with family. For others, running offers the chance to relax. But the sport tends to bring people together, and as McDermed points out, it’s a healthy hobby anyone can take up.
    “We encourage people of all sizes and all ages,” McDermed said. “You’d be amazed at what you do with yourself. You’d never be able to tell me I could do running and here I am.”
    Follow Shawn Garrison on Twitter: @GarrisonEJC

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