DELPHOS — Whether you’re supporting a cause, looking for motivation to keep up with your exercise routine or seeking a way to get started toward a healthier lifestyle, completing the 3.1 miles of a 5K can be a challenge, a social opportunity, as well as a rewarding way to give back to the community.
And this is exactly what running clubs in the area are all about.
Mandy Weimerskirch, 34, of Delphos, started the Delphos Running Club about five years ago — and it’s grown into a weekly meetup of runners and walkers from Delphos and surrounding communities. In addition to offering organized exercise, the club raises money for a different local charity each month — $40,000 in donations so far.
“I actually read the book, ‘Lead … for God’s Sake!’” the 2002 Delphos St. John’s graduate explained, of what motivated her to start a local running group. “I was on a trip to Florida to visit one of my best friends from high school in Tampa, and I had read that book on the airplane on the way down. And when I got there, she was just showing me around Tampa, and she was telling me about these different running clubs that she would participate in. And so the idea kind of spun from there.”
She continued, “I just decided on that trip that the running club with the social part and the networking, plus giving to charity and exercising — those three things are probably the most important things to me — and kind of do them all in one night and in one organization.”
These days, the Delphos Running club is a 501(3)(c) non-profit organization, and it’s now in its fifth season. The Rustic Cafe is a home base of sorts, offering specials on runner-friendly food and drink.
On average, the Delphos Running Club attracts about 80 people per week, Weimerskirch said. Out of these, probably 30 to 40 of them are walkers. So runners, walkers — and everyone in between — are invited to stop out for a Thursday evening 5K and to join the Delphos Running Club Facebook group for the latest updates.
“Everybody has their own motivation for coming,” Weimerskirch said. “Some of them come because they’re training for a 5K or a half marathon, and the extra competition of people being there is the reason why they come. Other people do it for the social aspect. And then other ones do it because of what we stand for. We say we ‘run for a reason.’ That’s kind of our mission. Our favorite night is when we do the big check presentation. … And I think that is fulfilling for a lot of people — that part of it — and being a part of something that give back to the community.”
Mandy Wiltsie, 37, of Delphos, has been involved with the Delphos Running Club since it began.
“I got involved because I wanted to have other people to train with for upcoming races, give back to the community and be able to socialize all at the same time,” she said. “I like being a member of the Delphos Running Club because it makes me feel good when I can help others.
“Last September our son was diagnosed with leukemia and for the last run of the year, the run club donated the money raised that night to help pay for medical expenses. My family and I are very thankful for that, and I want to be able to give back when I can.”
Reach Michelle Stein at firstname.lastname@example.org.