Brett Bentley

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April 2, 2013
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Sierra TrailBlazers clinic designed to get beginners into sport, race ready

For those not accustomed to running, April Fools Day just might have been the perfect place to start.

The Sierra TrailBlazers Running/Walking Club welcomed a group of people Monday night at the Nevada Union High School track where they began a nine-week training clinic to learn to run a 5K or 10K race by June 1. This is the first time the 36-year-old club has offered a free training clinic. The impetus behind it is to promote the club while sharing expertise and passion for the sport.

“All of us know how hard it is to get started in any type of exercise program, and that is what our club is wanting to share in the community by helping someone get started in the right direction and knowing what to do, having walking/running partners, sharing the locations of all the great trails, having someone be there when you start feeling all the new aches and pains,” said club president Peggy Davidson through email. “In our running/walking club, we have many members with years of experience in running, nutrition, injuries, stretching, who are willing to share this with all who want to participate.

At an informational meeting March 25, a roomful of more than 30 people listened as Sierra TrailBlazer members recounted their first time running — some of whom admitted they couldn’t even make it once around a quarter-mile track when they began.

After losing a lot of weight three years ago, Mark Erickson went in for a haircut. The woman trimming his locks asked if he was a runner.

His reaction to her question was a laugh, Erickson said.

But when the haircutter challenged him to train for a half-marathon, he did it. Two years after that, Erickson ran his first marathon. Now he and his wife own Trkac running store in Grass Valley and do what they can to help promote the sport. He will be among the trainers donating his time and expertise at NU’s all-weather sports track each Monday, helping the new crop of runners.

“I feel I need to give back to the community, to do what that woman did for me,” Erickson said of the “life-changing” event in his life.

Davidson also wants “pay it forward” when it comes to her love of running.

“For me, this is my time to give back and share with others what the running/walking club shared with me many years ago. Of course, they taught me the correct running form, when to stretch, when to eat and drink, but also I found lifelong friends and running partners,” she wrote.

Participants each received a training plan for the next nine weeks and were broken into groups based on ability and goals. The goals vary, from simply walking the 5K (3.1 miles) up to running a 10K (6.2 miles). The Sierra TrailBlazers planned the clinic to end in time for people to register in the Harmony Run, part of the Grand Prix of local running races.

For Christina Ritner, the clinic provides motivation.

“I’m going to it because I eventually want to get to a half-marathon,” Ritner said.

She has run 5K races and had set a goal at one point to increase mileage but became disappointed when it didn’t happen, she added.

The health benefits of running have long been touted in publications and from medical and fitness professionals. But just last week, htt:// published a story about the benefits of training with partners. Having people to train with can push runners to go farther and potentially faster but also create a sense of camaraderie that can play an important role in the ongoing success of a fitness endeavor, according to the article.

Training with a group each Monday at the Nevada Union track is also a key component of the Sierra TrailBlazers clinic. Davidson was pleasantly surprised by the large turnout at last week’s information meeting and looked forward to the clinic.

“I hope everyone that participates in the training program goes the whole nine weeks. It will change their outlook on life forever,” she said. “They will feel better physically, will be stronger mentally and will have more confidence in their self in both their home life and work life.”

For more about Sierra TrailBlazers, go to

Features Editor Brett Bentley can be contacted at

“They will feel better physically, will be stronger mentally, and will have more confidence in their self in both their home life and work life.”
Peggy Davidson

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The Union Updated Apr 2, 2013 10:13AM Published Apr 2, 2013 07:14PM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.