Edmond Running Club

Health, Fun & Determination
Two main commodities most Americans crave are good health and pure happiness.

The Edmond Running Club has both, and you need not be an elite athlete to join. In fact, Ted Withrow, a member of the board of directors, used to be the proverbial couch potato until his wife, Pam, urged him to get physical.

“Let’s take it outside,” Ted remembered her saying. She no longer would stand for her husband of more than three decades to be an unhealthy and slightly lethargic man.

Pam liked to run as a kid but realized how tough it became when she got older. So, the both of them laced up their running shoes and set out to see how far they could run.

“At first, it wasn’t pretty,” Ted joked. “We didn’t get very far.” But, with each successive time running on the streets, jogging in the parks and traversing the trails, the Withrows were ready for their first 5 km race.

This race was the 2004 Andy Payne Road Races where you could run a 5 km, 10 km, a half-marathon or a full marathon. They, of course, opted for the relatively short 3.1 mile run (5 km). Since this was their first race ever, they were quite nervous.

“My heart was pounding,” Pam said, remembering the apprehension and fear that scurried through her body. They both thought all the runners were in stiff competition with one another and were there only to generate another world record.

“I thought everyone was going to be gazelles,” Ted said, worried that he and Pam would finish an hour after the slowest runner.
Less than 32 minutes later, Ted crossed the finish line listening to the sounds of the crowd cheering and clapping. Someone handed him a bottle of water and said, “Nice going. Good run.”

Not only was he amazed to have finished, he was surprised there were many more people running in after him. He wasn’t last and later he discovered that a 31:15 finish time was considered respectable in the running community. While still huffing, puffing and dripping sweat all over the ground, he managed to find some water for Pam to drink, as she was fast approaching the finish line.

Neither of them remembered if they won a prize, other than the self-efficacy that goes with such a physical feat.

Less than one year later, Ted completed the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon and plans to make it an annual event. The feeling of accomplishment, the reaction of the screaming crowds and the sensation of endorphins engulfing his body kept Ted in his New Balance running shoes, trying to strive for longer and faster runs. To him, it was pure and unadulterated testosterone-filled competition. Yet he was only competing with himself.

Pam, on the other hand, loved the run for different reasons. She loved the camaraderie, the new friendships she made and all the simple fun that goes with a breathless run of 5 km. “It’s not fun for me,” she said about the actual competitiveness. “I like the social runs better, but this is good, too.”

Mike Chionopoulos, Oklahoma County’s newest special district judge, is another ERC member who started slow and gradually built his stamina for longer and faster races.

About a year ago, Chionopoulos only ran relatively small amounts. He has had to maintain his short distance running through eight years of active duty as an Army officer, 13 years Army reserve and now as an Air Force reserve legal officer.

“Before November (2004), I never ran more than five miles,” he said. He used to run a couple of miles around his neighborhood to stay in shape, but nothing even close to his current capacity. His first marathon was the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon this past April. Currently he is training for a December marathon in Hawaii.

Bob Reid, vice president of the club, couldn’t be happier to see people like Chionopoulos and the Withrows running for fun and health.
“Edmond Running Club members are a group that shares a passion for running, and our goal is to infect others with that passion,” he said. “Most of us have not been lifelong runners; we each had some personal moment where we decided that running was good. We started seeing results and feeling better about ourselves and, the next thing you know, we wanted to go out and tell others how great running is.”

Reid is the race director for the popular Frigid 5. This five-mile run, known as the New Hampshire presidential primary of the Oklahoma running world because it kicks off the running season, is held in February at Mitch Park.

“Most of us in the club seek the motivation of a group and the excitement of an event,” he said. Yet, it takes all kinds to make such a fun and interesting club. To learn more about the Edmond Running Club, visit www.edmondrunningclub.com.

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