Lehmann/ TOWNSMAN STAFF
March 23, 2006 - Updated: 10:38 AM
You can do it, and they can help.
Suburban Striders Running Club, a group of women from Wellesley and
several other local communities, offers encouragement and coaching
to women at all running levels. Started in 2004, the goal of the
club "is to be an all-comers club to runners of all abilities," said
founder Mary Kachadurian of Weston.
running club meets year-round on Wednesday mornings for an hour of
training and coaching. Heather McClurg and Trish Richardson, both
from Wellesley, have been with the club since its inception. McClurg
was hesitant at first to join the new club, fearing it would be
intimidating and too competitive. But, she said, "it’s been the
opposite of that - we do coffee, movies, cross-country skiing, power
yoga. It’s gone beyond the hour [of the workout] to spending time
together." Most of the women in the group are in their 40s, some in
their 50s, McClurg said, and all are at a point in their lives where
"it’s time to focus on ourselves."
something that’s physically hard, but I never want to miss it,"
Richardson said, referring to their weekly training. "The women in
the group are all passionate about running."
joined the newly formed running club in 2004 because she wanted to
run the Chicago Marathon - and she did, along with McClurg and six
other members of the original group. Since then, she’s tried shorter
distances and found that "I’m a five-miler, a track person" at
heart, not a long-distance runner after all, she said.
the newest members is Wellesley resident Stephanie Hawkinson, who
joined last October. "I really was not a runner," she said. "The
first day I was at the track, I was nervous. I didn’t want to make a
fool of myself. But, once I started running I found it was not about
that at all. From that first day, I couldn’t wait to go back."
goal when she first joined was to run a marathon - and she’s running
the Boston Marathon this year - "but now, it’s more than [the goal].
It’s being with the other women running." And, she added, "you don’t
have to worry about how much you sweat or what your hair looks
like," referring to the advantages of an all-women group.
the eight club members from Wellesley are running the Boston
Marathon this year, including Hawkinson and McClurg. Richardson said
she has probably already run her last marathon and will not be in
this year’s race.
of us are athletes," Richardson said, but added that few were track
stars in high school or college. It’s certainly not a requirement,
she said. One of the members couldn’t walk a mile when she first
joined, Richardson said, but now, she can run three miles nonstop -
and the group cheered her on every step of the way.
something to be said about that spirit that pushes you harder,"
those who are injured, the club is a support group, McClurg said.
The women who are injured still come to the workouts, she said, and
do other exercises to keep in shape while letting the injury heal
think that this is something people have come to later in life ... a
passion," Hawkinson said. Along with the passion for running, the
members have another bond as well. "We all have a common thread ...
we’re all moms," Richardson said. Hawkinson agreed, adding that, as
moms, "we are all trying to fit running into the rest of our lives."
best compliment to [the club] is that people like me try to get more
people to join the group," McClurg said.
all different shapes and all of these women are runners," Hawkinson
said, dispelling the idea that the women in the club all looked like
elite marathon runners.
agreed. "We are fit, normal people."
How it all began...
March 2004, a group of women traveled to New York City to compete in
the More (Magazine) Half Marathon for Women over Forty. The weekend
focused on being with other women and running, and one of the
participants was so energized by the experience that she decided to
run in the 2005 Boston Marathon. Another member of the group, Mary
Kachadurian said, "Why wait for April  when we can do a
marathon in October ? Let’s get a coach, let’s have a training
plan, let’s form a group." Two months later, they did.
group hired a coach, Cathy Utzschneider, and began meeting and
training regularly. In October 2004, eight runners completed the
Chicago Marathon, four ran in the Boston Athletic Association Half
Marathon and one completed the Tufts 10K for Women.
the Suburban Striders Running Club has members from Weston,
Wellesley, Needham, Natick, Medfield, Sudbury and Dedham. The group
meets on Wednesdays from 9-10 a.m. for training and coaching. The
Babson College indoor track is used in the winter; for the rest of
the year, club members run on the Weston High School track. There is
an annual fee of $300 to join the club.
members range in running ability from runners who finish marathons
in six hours to runners who finish it in three hours, and everything
in between. Some do a lot of races during the year; others do little
or no racing, according to Kachadurian.
coach, Utzschneider, is a world-class runner, a professor at Boston
University and a mom as well, according to the Wellesley members.
Utzschneider "tailors the workouts toward the individual and their
individual goals," Hawkinson said.
more information, visit the club’s Web site at:
members of the Suburban Striders Running Club go for a light
jog on the Babson College fields. Left to right: Trish
Richardson, Julie Garvey, Kathleen Nilles, Carol Chaoui (in
pink, behind Nilles) and Heather McClurg. (Photo by Matthew