Mile Square Regional Park is, more often than not, filled with daily joggers. And Wednesday evenings are no different, but an addition pack of Snails can be seen making their way on the four-mile path.
That is because every Wednesday at 6 p.m., members of the Fountain Valley’s A Snail’s Pace Running Club meet for their weekly fun run around the park. For almost 20 years, the club's Fountain Valley chapter has proudly announcing its presence in and around the community by attending events dressed in ASPRC attire and taking home the medals from running competitions.
The club prides itself on welcoming follow runners of all skills and ages, said ASPRC President Rick Noer.
“No one is left out,” he said. “We have accomplished runners and people who have never run a day in their life.”
From staying healthy to finding a hobby, the club consists of people with different reasons to keep running. For Andi Kang, she joined the club a year ago to find others like her. Although she was already an experienced marathon runner, she stilled considered herself to be one of the “slower” Snails of the pack.
Yet, running among supportive company has led her to bettering her time without feeling the pressure of competition. “I love how we all help each other,” Kang said. “In this club, we are all running with friends.”
Aside from regularly congratulating each other during informal events, every second Wednesday of the month is a club meeting held at Round Table Pizza where club members come together to official celebrate one another’s accomplishments with salad and pizza.
In addition, guest speakers are invited to monthly meetings once in a while to share their experiences. For the month of March, Robert Orcutt, an endurance runner, introduced the sport of ultra running, an event that exceeds distances longer than a regular 26-mile marathon.
Orcutt briefly shared his experience and gave advice on how to break the psychological and physical barriers one may feel during their journey to the finish line. He suggested for interested runners to begin reading books, browse websites and getting connecting with experienced ultra marathoners through social networking websites, such as through Facebook.
The presentation highlighted a new goal for many members that night. But ultra running was not a foreign topic to many of the veteran runners.
Bob Norton, the longest active ASPRC member, has not only run all 25 Los Angeles Marathon, but has also taken his turn in ultra marathons, including his participation in the Angeles Crest 100-mile endurance run in the Los Angeles basin.
Aside from completing the marathon, Norton’s favorite part of the experience was feeling the camaraderie among fellow runners.
“Many times, when you are crossing that finishing line, there are already a bunch of people who had finished hours before and the awards ceremony is already going on,” he said. “But everyone will stop to cheer for you as you cross before continuing with the ceremony. And they’ll do that for the next runner, the runner after that and everybody else who comes through.”
ASPRC encourages members to complete at least one event each month. Aside from the weekly Wednesday meets, the club also offers track workouts at Orange Coast College every Tuesday, as well as other team trainings within the club for those in different age groups with different goals.
Snails are preparing for upcoming events including Knott’s Berry Farm’s Coaster Run: 5K, 10K and Camp Snoopy Kids run on March 27 and Laguna Hills Marathon on Memorial Day, May 30.