Trail running group celebrates success during pandemic

·2 min read

While a global pandemic has given plenty of people an excuse to sit still, it has created the exact opposite situation for one group of Saint Johners.

The Saint John Trail Running group has had a busy year, despite COVID-19 restrictions.

Mark McColgan, the founder of the group, said it has held 18 group runs and nine pop-up runs since its founding earlier this year.

He said he started it after a previous running group stopped because of COVID-19.

"The scene was kind of dead at the time, mainly because of COVID. People were a little scared to get out," McColgan said.

He admits his main focus was a bit selfish.

"I just wanted to make more running friends," said McColgan.

Big success

He was surprised with how many people showed interest.

"I didn't really think there was going to be too many out," said McColgan.

"I wanted to have maybe one or two. I'd be happy with that as long as I had a friend to run with. And we ended up I think the first week was about 15, 16, and we've been up as high as 27."

McColgan said the club generally breaks up into two groups to better accommodate physical distancing, with one group for runners looking for more speed.

He said he's received a lot of positive feedback from members.

"It's kept them active, kept them fit," said McColgan.

"Some people deal with some personal issues and this really provides a distraction for them. It's really nice in that sense. It's really rewarding."

Happy runners

Rene Julien travels from Moncton just to run with the group.

He said he was impressed with how organized it was and decided to continue.

"The group is really welcoming," said Julien.

"I think that really helps people to feel comfortable and start running "

Vipul Raja had two reasons to join.

"My wife is a fitness freak, I wasn't, but then she motivated me," said Raja.

"And then especially because of COVID, there wasn't many other things to do."

New Year's resolutions

For those people looking to get more exercise and lose weight in 2020, McColgan points to joining a running group as a good way to tackle it.

"I'd say lace up the shoes and do it," said McColgan.

"About six years ago, I was a person that could barely walk up stairs without getting tired. And I'm proof, proof right there that if I can do it, you can do it."