(Image via Akron Running Club/Instagram)
Runners at The University of Akron do not have to be part of a varsity team to be part of a running community.
Established five years ago, the Akron Running Club (ARC) currently has about 30 undergraduate club members, with graduate students also welcome to join.
Vince Orzel, president of ARC, said members of the group vary in experience level and competitiveness, spanning from those training for track/marathon events to those completely new to running.
Much like a varsity team, members of ARC often form relationships that extend beyond the activity of running. According to Orzel, many of the group’s members eat, study, and travel together.
“I think our group does a very good job bringing people together regardless of their level of running experience and interests,” he said. “They’re like family to me.”
As a collegiate running club, the group is governed by the National Intercollegiate Running Club Association (NIRCA). Similar to the ARC, the NIRCA gives runners of all experience levels the opportunity to participate in collegiate competition.
In the fall semester, the NIRCA organizes cross country meets and it holds track meets and road events in the spring.
“Unlike in the NCAA, there are no qualification requirements for the events we attend, so runners of all abilities can participate,” Orzel said.
In April, the ARC will attend the NIRCA’s Track and Field Nationals and Half Marathon Nationals in Oxford, Ohio. Participants will be able to compete against other club runners from across the country.
ARC hosted their first event, the AkRUN Invitational, during the Fall 2019 semester where over 100 runners from participating teams came from schools such as Michigan University and The Ohio State University.
In addition to hosting a second AkRUN Invitational this fall, ARC is considering hosting an open 5K race for community members.
ARC holds daily practices Monday through Friday at 6 p.m. in the lobby of the Rec Center. Additional practices take place at 9 p.m. on the indoor track of the field house on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Students who are interested in joining ARC need only attend a practice. They can also join the group on RooConnect or send an email to join the mailing list.
The club can also be found on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
“Although some of our members train hard and are very competitive, as a whole we exist for the joy of running,” Orzel said. “We practice together because we think it’s much more fun to run with friends than by yourself.”