BERLIN — Whatever the age or skill level, the newly formed Berlin Runners/Walkers Club (BRWC) is looking for fresh members.
“We’re trying to get some more folks interested,” said BRWC founding member Ron Cascio.
After taking its first steps this winter, BRWC is starting to hit its stride. With about a dozen regulars showing up every Sunday for the club’s morning run, Cascio said that BRWC is doing well in its first few months. With spring weather on the way, he pointed out that it’s a good time for people on the fence about running to give it a try.
Cascio, who committed to running regularly after a heart attack landed him in the hospital a few years ago, acknowledged that putting shoes to pavement, even just once a week, can be “a challenge.”
However, he asserted the BRWC offers the support network that a lot of people need to take the first step.
“We’re trying to get people off of the couch,” Cascio said. “We’re there to support and help you.”
Cascio described the group as “a community of runners” all of whom run, or walk, different distances at different paces. Everyone from marathon trainers to half-mile walkers, he continued, would be welcome to the group.
Besides having a ready set of partners and motivators to run with every week, BRWC also offers a well of running information for both beginners and experts to draw from.
“There are a lot of people with a lot of knowledge,” said Cascio.
Personally, he related how in recent years he had learned a lot about running form, technique and using less cushioned shoes that encourage heel strikes, which often lead to injury.
“Until I was 57, I did not know how to run right,” said Cascio.
He promised that club members would have access to a number of experts who would have tips and advice on every aspect of running. Cascio said for him running is a continuing education.
“Everybody’s got something to learn,” he said.
The Berlin club is also looking into setting up clinics, where members can speak to experienced runners and learn new ways to run and avoid injuries.
“People don’t run because they hurt themselves,” said Cascio, who added that good form and the right attire are key to staying healthy.
Despite being a young organization, BRWC is already partnering or in the process of working with, businesses and groups in the area. The first and most obvious partnership, according to Cascio, was for BRWC to join with the Ocean City Running Club (OCRC).
Already well established, OCRC offered to incorporate the Berlin group into the fold, offering to list BRWC’s Sunday runs, which recently changed from 11 a.m. to 8 a.m., on their website. The Berlin run fits nicely with OCRC’s weekly Wednesday Ocean City run and Saturday Ocean Pines run, leaving no overlap where events would interfere with each other.
“We didn’t want to step on their toes,” he said of OCRC’s established schedule.
Other partnerships BRWC is fostering in the community include possible team-ups with Atlantic General Hospital (AGH) and Burley Oak Brewery.
“We’ve gotten a lot of interest from people,” said Cascio.
While AGH is generally supportive of exercise in general to keep people fit and to curtail rising medical costs in the country, Cascio explained that Burley Oak might look to get involved creatively and hinted at the potential for a “beer run” event where runners stop at local bars and pubs for a brew before jogging to the next location.
Currently, BRWC heads out every Sunday from the Berlin Coffee House and uses a 3.5-mile route that’s marked at every half mile.
“It’s a great run. It’s a country run,” said Cascio. “It’s woods and fields.”
The club runs the length of the course and then runs back to the coffee house, a seven-mile total. But Cascio stressed that club members can run or walk as much of the course as they would like at whatever speed they’re comfortable with. For those afraid of being left behind, he promised that there are always clusters of people moving at different paces and going different lengths.
“We’ve got walk, sprint and everything in between,” said Cascio, who went on to say that dogs were welcome on the trip as well.
A final point Cascio made sure to deliver was how little commitment it takes to start running and get fit.
“This is just the easiest, cheapest way,” he said. “I think anybody can do it…we’re there to help you.”
Joining the running club requires a $35 annual member fee, which goes toward keeping the website up, providing support during any racing events and a member jersey.
While Berlin may be partnered with OCRC, Cascio said that BRWC members will receive a unique jersey that supports the town.
Just going for a Sunday run with the club is free, however.
Cascio encouraged anyone who wants to get into or back into shape, lifetime runners, or people just interested in spending a little time outdoors with their friends and neighbors to take the club for a test run one weekend.
For more information, visit oceancityrunningclub.com