Club sets local runners on common course in Folsom, El Dorado Hills

By: Matt Long, Telegraph Sports Editor
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Oak Ridge High cross country coach Rob Fairley loves the sport he coaches and does whatever he can to promote it. Without even trying, however, the summer run club that was started a few years ago is perhaps helping grow the sport more than anything else. What started out as a program for Oak Ridge High cross country runners has now turned into a multi-school event that featured an average of 50 runners an outing during the summer. The motivated athletes work hard in the offseason to prepare for the fall cross country season; so what better way to do so than to run with friends and make new ones along the way? Those who consistently run with the club say it’s more enjoyable to train with others and if they’re going to get the work in anyway, they might as well do it with a friend or two. Athletes from Oak Ridge make up a bulk of the group, but runners from Vista del Lago, Folsom and McClatchy regularly ran with the group. Fairley put together three runs for the 10-week program; a quick, faster tempo run around the Folsom Parkway on Mondays, a challenging hilly run over rough terrain around Folsom Lake on Wednesdays and an opportunity for a longer trail run around Lake Natoma on Fridays. Oak Ridge sophomore Rachel Peterson has been consistently running with the group, preparing for the cross country season. Her goal this summer was to run 400 miles and only a family vacation kept her from reaching her mileage goal. Peterson’s enjoyed the group, as well as the runs. “It’s a good way to stay in shape, keep active and see friends over the summer,” Peterson said. “I enjoyed the Wednesday runs at Dyke 8 because we got to go swimming in the lake afterward.” Peterson put in the time this summer because she’s got goals she’s hoping to meet in the fall. “I hope to break 19 minutes on a 5K course,” she said. “I feel I’m ready to go for the season.” Zach Jaeger, a senior at Vista del Lago, ran consistently with the group, averaging 65 miles per week between the group runs and his other workouts. He didn’t have any mileage goals for the summer, but knew he wanted to work hard and get in shape so he can have a strong cross country season. “I just wanted to run hard, work hard and stay in shape,” Jaeger said. “Last year I ran 55 miles a week so I increased that this year.” Jaeger has big goals for his final high school cross country season, hoping he and his teammates win a Division III title and earn a top-10 finish at the state meet. He said running with the club has helped him improve. “There are a lot of fast runners that push you,” Jaeger said. “It was fun to talk with them and also meet the college runners that came out.” Vivian Lam has a goal to make it to the state meet this season, her senior year at Folsom. Her goal this summer was to run upwards of 70 miles per week, while also improving her speed. She said she benefitted from running with the group. “Everyone is so dedicated and into running and it’s great to share that intimacy that you find toward a sport with others who feel the same way,” Lam said. Vista senior Madeleine Ankhelyi is a three-time qualifier for the state meet also enjoyed her training. “I love the group,” she said. “You get so many runners from different schools and have a bunch of people to run with. It’s a lot of fun to run together.” Peterson’s teammate, senior Marcos Conde, has been a workhorse this summer, putting in 720 miles of work between the running club and running on his own the other days of the week, the most of any runner in the group. “I wanted to build a good base for myself for the cross country season,” Conde said. “My goal is to run 16:10 or lower and I want our team to win sections again. I think our team has gotten better and more consistent and can do it again. I know the competition will be tough, but I think we’ve got a good shot to do it again.” Katie Bock, a sophomore at Folsom High, didn’t train at all heading into her freshman cross country season a year ago, but has run with the club most of the summer. As the club’s summer session came to an end on Saturday, Bock was hoping to complete her first 12-mile run. “Everyone is extremely nice, friendly and outgoing,” Bock said of the club. “They encourage you to get better and just keep you going.” Bock hopes that she and her teammates can qualify for the state meet this season. Fairley said it was a successful summer for the club and is proud of what it has become and what the future holds. “I’m very pleased with the program and the work our runners put into it,” Fairley said. “A lot of our veterans had a great summer. The program is a fun thing for the summer and I hope it continues for many years to come. It’s cool when you get kids from different schools together. The competitive juices get going and it helps motivate the athletes to train at high levels.”