New walking & running club ready to take off next month in North Smithfield

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NORTH SMITHFIELD – Chase Fuller can envision a large fitness troop of all ages and experience levels gathering each Saturday morning – year-round – for some casual and social exercise. On other days of the week and at special events, members could work out together, or maybe have a “pub run,” to a local sports bar.

But for now, he says, he’ll be happy if he helps to get even one North Smithfield resident moving.

Fuller will be launching the town’s new running and walking club next month, with the first event to be held on Saturday, Sept. 18 – a run/walk departing from Coffee & Cream at Slatersville Plaza at 9:30 a.m. He hopes to continue meeting every Saturday well into the winter, for as long as there’s interest.

“Running in New England is kind of weird because in the summer it gets really hot, and people don’t like running,” Fuller said, noting that for many the sport also cuts off when it gets too cold.

A certified running coach with the Road Runners Club of America who moved to town seven years ago, Fuller said his goal is to establish a consistent group to help people stay active.

“I think it’s easier for people to keep an active lifestyle when you have a support group,” he said.

He notes that group activities also help to build community, and give residents a chance to meet their neighbors.

The club, he says, will aim to provide something for all levels of fitness and experience, not just marathon trainers – although they’re always welcome too. On Saturday mornings, he’ll offer potential routes of varying lengths for those who want to run or walk, noting where there’s sidewalks.

There is space, he said, for everyone, from fitness buffs to dog and stroller walkers, and the group is not limited to North Smthfield residents. Anyone passionate about being or becoming active is encouraged to join.

“People get intimidated,” Fuller said. “The idea is to bring people together. These are just social runs.”

“I want people who want to be active to have a place to do it,” he added.

Fuller said once the new track and field is complete at the North Smithfield High School athletic fields he hopes to hold workout events there – also geared toward all levels of experience.

“You can be super fit and crazy fast, or you can be brand new to it,” he said. “We’re all going to grind it out, and have a good time doing it.”

A pub run starting at Gator’s Pub on the the last Thursday of every month is also in the works. The first has been scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 30, with meet participants to meet at the restaurant between 6 and 6:15 p.m. and the run start around 6:30.

An effort spawned through the town’s Parks and Recreation Committee, the group may also sponsor nature hikes and other activities. And each month, the club will support a specific charity local to northern Rhode Island.

Fuller said he himself only began running later in life, getting into the hobby after age 30.

“My background is similar to a lot of people,” he said. “You think it’s a healthy thing to do, and then you realize – it’s actually pretty cool.”

This week, the organizer launched a naming contest for the new group in search of something that represents the northern Rhode Island area. Submit your suggestion via surveymonkey.com by Saturday, Sept. 4, and if your name is chosen, you will win a $50 Coffee & Cream gift card and a free pair of shoes from Hoka One One.

It’s just the start of what Fuller hopes will be a growing community group on the move.

“It seems the more people I talk to, the more say they’re ready for this,” he said. “We’ll see. I’m going to learn a lot from the people who show up.”

To take part, just show up at Coffee and Cream on September 18 at 9 a.m. Questions can be directed to chasefuller@gmail.com.

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