By Christine Bryant
When Rick Shears moved from the north side of Columbus to the westside, he noticed one important thing missing.
As an avid runner, he immediately became aware that there were no running clubs nearby, and even more so, not a lot of runners.
“So I started talking with people at Westgate, the YMCA and other runners about my idea of starting a running club, and everyone liked the idea,” he said.
Shears began corresponding with Friends of Camp Chase and created a Facebook group called the Columbus Westside Runners. Once interest increased, he scheduled the group’s first run, which took place Jan. 12. Runs will continue every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. and will begin at the shelter house at Westgate Park.
Once the Camp Chase trail opens, the group plans to have an opening ceremony and a special 5K run, as well as additional runs along the trail afterward.
“Since the weather has been nice, they have been able to get a lot of work done,” Shears said.
“The expected completion date is this summer, and I am told that they will have a more exact date in March.”
Though a date for the ceremony and 5K is still uncertain, Shears said his plan is to hold it at Westmoor Park.
Shears’ plans to build a running community extend further, however. As someone who builds and helps manage websites, Shears plans to construct a site that will provide runners with resources in the Columbus area.
“I would also like to find a few trainers who would like to train runners,” he said. “Their information will also be placed on the website.”
Currently, he has a temporary personal blog at ricksruns.blogspot.com where he shares his personal experiences with runs such as ultras, marathons and other smaller organized runs around central Ohio. He also includes information about training programs, upcoming runs, trails, videos and other resources.
For those wanting to participate in the group’s weekly runs on Tuesdays, each run is approximately five miles and will go follow the streets in the Westgate area. Runners should meet on the west side of the shelter at Westgate Park near the water towers. This will be the start and finish point, Shears said.
“I would also like to add a run for those who like running trails,” he said. “This will be once a month and will be a three-mile run at Big Run Park.”
Other plans include possibly adding a weekend run on Sundays, he said.
For residents who aren’t experienced runners but want to learn, Shears says he has been in their shoes and wants the group to serve as a support network as well.
“(Running) has helped me a lot,” he said. “I used to be over 300 pounds and when I got active, I started losing weight and I added running to my routine.”
Two years ago, he says, he could not run half a mile.
“Since I have been running, I have run half and full marathons and currently training to run my first 50K,” he said.
Regardless of level of experience, Shears said they will accommodate and welcome all, regardless of speed.
“Since we all run at a different pace, that would mean not everyone will be together,” he said. “So for this reason, I will always make sure someone stays back with the last group. I do not want anyone to feel like they are left out because of their pace. We welcome everyone.”
Joining the group is free.
For more information, email email@example.com.