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It’s time for Mid-Michigan youth to get running outside again

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James Long/Lansing Roadrunners
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2021 Lansing Roadrunners team.

Local youth track clubs are ready to welcome kids back, after a long winter, and an even longer spell without normal schedules due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

LANSING, Mich. – Track season is just around the corner, and youth clubs in the Lansing area are starting to prepare to compete. Much of the COVID-19 concerns have been eliminated, and these teams finally get to have a complete season for the first time in three years.

One of these clubs is the Lansing Roadrunners, co-owned by James Long and his wife, Linda Long. Based on feedback they are getting from parents, It is estimated that there will be about 20 to 30 runners participating in the 2022 season. The COVID-19 pandemic caused the Roadrunners some struggles, as they had to shut down. Not only did the pandemic affect the club on a grand scale, it also affected the kids individually.

“When we got back, children had a harder time regrouping and getting back into conditioning,” said Linda. “Many of the kids’ families struggled and continue to struggle financially and also became out of shape due to the shutdown.”

Team meetings with parents and athletes will be starting up this month. James discussed what team meetings entail, and what they expect to accomplish during them.

“In these team meetings, we discuss what will happen over the next few months, along with budgeting, team meetings, and whatnot,” said James.

With all this in mind, Linda said that they strive to live up to their mission, which is to have no child left behind along with ensuring that kids are active and progressing well in the sport of track.

One of the main goals of the organization, she said, is to be affordable so that families who struggle financially are able to place their children in sports clubs and make sure they are as active and healthy as possible.

To help run the track club, there is a $5 fee at the gate for the track meets. Track shoes are also supplied to runners who don’t have any by the club.

Another youth club in the area is the Lansing Area Track Club, coached by Ramon Brunson. Although the organization doesn’t have an official website, Brunson uses Facebook and email to get the word out.

The Facebook page, under the name “Lansing Area Track Club,” has been essentially important for the club over the last few years. It is filled with lots of information about meetings, inspirational quotes, and videos providing general information about the club along with workouts.

Brunson said that he is anticipating the upcoming 2022 season which will start in June. It will be the club’s first full season since 2019. Because of the pandemic, there was no 2020 season and they were unable to have a full season in 2021. Despite the obstacles faced by the organization, they were still able to persevere.

“During COVID, we had to improvise and do whatever we could,” said Brunson. “While we did some activities such as virtual workouts, we greatly missed that face to face interaction.”

Despite the obstacles, the organization continued to live up to its mission to strive to educate the nearly 20-30 athletes they have on average each season.

“We did our very best to put out educational videos, help out families, and teach proper techniques of organization,” said Brunson.

The organization is in its sixth year of existence, and is looking to build a facility for athletes to practice indoors in the winter. It is open to donations for undertaking this project.

“In the wintertime, track clubs have nowhere to practice,” Brunson said in a video posted to Facebook in September 2021. “Even if you’re in a high school track club, or a non-profit here in the city of Lansing, or if you’re a middle school track club.”

He also said that not only will it be for people who want to prepare for track during the cold winter months, it will also be for general use.

“It will get people outside just for a little bit of time, and just feel warm and comfortable,” said Brunson. “This will be an environment for everybody to come, but this will only happen if us and the community of the city of Lansing come together.”

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