By Lindsey Winstead

A Barton student and a professor have teamed up to form a running club on campus.

Freshman Shelby Smith and Dr. Elizabeth Dennis, associate professor of English, are organizing the new club. Both are avid runners, and their love for recreational running has inspired them to create the club.

“I started running about three years ago,” said Dennis. “I wanted to be healthier for my son and family. I started participating in local 5Ks and progressed to running my first half marathon in November 2014.”

The idea for the club came from a conversation between Dennis and Smith in Dennis’s English Composition class. Smith was a student taking the course. Like Dennis, Smith has participated in 5K races and runs as part of her fitness routine.

One day, Dennis and Smith started talking about running and the idea for an organized running club expanded from there.

“I mentioned the idea of a running club, and she took off with it,” said Dennis. “She is an avid runner, and we know several students who enjoy running. The idea of a club made sense.”

According to Dennis, the goal of the club is to provide a fun, relaxed environment for students to work out in. She and Smith see it as a way to provide an opportunity for students to become healthier, to decrease their stree levels and to have fun with other students, faculty and staff.

Dennis also wants the club to be a friendly environment for beginners and experienced runners alike.

“Some people say, ‘Oh, I’ve always thought about trying running, but I’m no good at it,” said Dennis. “I was the same way when I started, so I know how it feels to suck wind and feel like you are dying. I hope we can provide tips and a fun, healthy activity for those who are interested.”

Even though the club is still in the planning stages, Dennis and Smith have some ideas about what will occur during club meetings.

“The meeting will probably consist of a warm-up together and a run,” said Dennis. “We are thinking about having several different groups catering to each individual’s running ability. We also want to select a few races to participate in as a goal for the group. We hope to register as a group for a local 5K race.”

The group may include a “Couch to 5K” program to help beginners develop their running abilities. Dennis said she would gladly run with the beginners to help them improve.

Dennis and Smith also want to form groups for more seasoned runners to improve their paces and endurance. The groups will depend on how many members join and their individual running capabilities.

Anyone interested in becoming a member of the club is eligible to join. According to Dennis, no prior running experience is required.

Once the paperwork is filed for the club, Dennis and Smith will hold an interest meeting where students can join. A time and place has not been established for running club meeting, but the club will likely start meeting later this semester.