By Melanie Patterson
North Jefferson News
GARDENDALE — A new club has taken off by leaps and bounds.
Jay Beard started a weekly running club this summer, and participation has tripled in just a few weeks. Fifty-five people took part the first week, and six weeks later the number had reached 152.
“I thought it would catch on, but not this quick,” said Beard, who is a manager at Buffalo Wild Wings in Gardendale. “I like to run and you see runners all over Gardendale. I thought, why not try it in Gardendale. It’s gone above our expectations.”
A co-sponsor of the run is CrossFit Gardendale, which has about 50 members who participate in the weekly running club.
And it is not just for runners; some participants walk. There are three routes from which to choose: one, three or five miles.
“We have parents pushing babies in strollers, kids, high schoolers and senior adults,” Beard said.
The club meets every Tuesday, 6 p.m., at the Buffalo Wild Wings patio. There is also an after party, with live music on the patio and door prizes from sponsors.
“The runners like to socialize afterward,” Beard said. “It’s kind of a cool community we’ve got. It’s easier to run with a group of people and when you have a set time. And people show up wanting to know who will be there.”
There is no fee to take part in the run, and Beard said it is not a competition.
“We just get out there and exercise,” he said.
Each run is sponsored by a local business. The sponsors donate money toward Buffalo Wild Wings gift cards. Some sponsors also purchase running club T-shirts to distribute, or hand out other items like water bottles. The club shirts are also available for purchase by runners.
CrossFit Gardendale created signs for the three routes and posts them every week to guide runners and walkers.
The run has gotten so successful, Beard said he is considering adding a Saturday morning run.
He said the running club meets rain or shine, and will likely continue through winter if people continue to show up.
For more information about the running club, contact Beard at 631-7646 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.