N.E.D. Community Running Club makes debut in Cumberland

N.E.D. Community Running Club makes debut in Cumberland

Informational meeting is Thursday night at Wellness Center

CUMBERLAND – Bob Rothenberg may have retired as the Brown University cross country/track and field coach in 2000, but he has donned several hats since then, not only as a coach for the New England Distance and Ronald McDonald House of Providence running clubs, but also as a director for such races as the Ocean State Cross Country Invitational in Warwick and the RMHP Women’s Classic 5K in Providence that take place each fall.

This spring, Rothenberg plans to add another hat to his collection, and this one involves the running scene in Cumberland.

Rothenberg is part of a group that is forming the N.E. Distance Community Running Club, which is geared toward runners of all levels in the Cumberland and Attleboro areas and looking to get its feet on the ground this spring.

Participants will meet three times a week for speed and endurance workouts that will be designed and supervised by the coaching staff, which includes New England Distance runners and some of Cumberland’s top veteran distance runners.

“We’re always looking for ways our N.E.D. runners can get involved in the community,” said Rothenberg. “We said, ‘Why don’t we take this concept of what’s working with the Ronald McDonald House running club and try it in another area?’ So we looked around the state for a place where there were a lot of runners, but not necessarily a lot of clubs. And then we said, ‘Well, we don’t know of too many clubs in the Cumberland/Attleboro area, but we know a lot of the coaches there.

“And then I talked with (Cumberland High coach) Tom Kenwood, and we knew (cross country coach) Kerrie Carpenter, who brings her North Cumberland (Middle School) teams to our Ocean State (Invitational) races that we put on every September at Goddard Park. Chris Magill’s from Cumberland and he’s in our running club, and we spoke to a few more people. They all said, ‘Yes, that is a great idea,’ and they were all willing to kind of spread the word.”

While Rothenberg noted that his newly-formed club wasn’t trying to compete or step on the toes of any other nearby running clubs (“We’re just trying to offer people another opportunity for runners.”), he also stressed that the Community Running Club wasn’t going to be just an elite club, but rather one that would welcome anyone – regardless of their past experience or if they ever ran before – with open arms.

“This is meant to be a community running club,” he confirmed. “Like the Ronald McDonald House club, this club is going to be for any level, and we’re going to train everyone in three or four different groups, based on what pace people can handle.”

Like the Ronald McDonald House club, the CRC will be in the hands of some qualified coaches, such as former Bishop Hendricken standout Jake Sienko and Aaron Dinzeo of the New England Distance club, Cumberland’s Kim Chula-Maguire, who competed at last year’s U.S. Olympic Trials in the Masters’ exhibition 1,500-meter race, and Cumberland’s Jeff Mutter, a distance running standout whose PR in the marathon is 2:25.

“Those four each bring something to the table,” added Rothenberg. “Jake and Aaron have done very well in college and beyond and they’ve been exposed to a lot of coaching. Kim didn’t start running until adulthood, but she’s running really well. People might relate to her in the sense that ‘I’ve never run before, but neither did she.’ And Jeff’s been around for a long time and he’s worked with a lot of individuals.”

The gameplan for the CRC is to begin it with a 12-week program – 36 workouts total – that will meet from Tuesday, April 4 to Sunday, June 25. Each week will consist of track workouts at Cumberland’s Tucker Field each Tuesday and Thursday night from 6 to 7:30 p.m., as well as a group long run each Sunday mornings, and runners will be divided into three or four training groups that will be based on their skill levels.

“Jake, Aaron, Jeff, and Kim will be there on Tuesdays and Thursdays on the track, but we’re going to be rotating our New England Distance runners for the long runs on Sundays,” reported Rothenberg, who hopes to schedule another 12-week segment for CRC members starting in mid-July and going into the fall. “The long runs will start on the bike path on the welcome center on (Route) 295.”

Perfect attendance for all 36 workouts is not mandatory, added Rothenberg.

“When you work with adults, they have families, they have careers, and they have other interests,” he offered. “What we’re trying to do is not push them forward, but encourage them all the time. Positive reinforcement and encouragement is crucial when you work with adults, many of whom haven’t trained for years or never trained at all.

“We’ve seen some runners at the Ronald McDonald House stay with us for several months, and the improvement they make during that time is tremendous. They’re so proud of themselves, their confidence grows and they’re looking to get into races.”

Speaking of races, Rothenberg is trying to put together a “perk package” for those who sign up for the Community Running Club, and one of the perks will be discounted fees to some of the nearby road races that are held in northern Rhode Island and the Greater Attleboro area. There will also be discounts to local running stores, and the club will also have its own singlets and running apparel.

The cost for the club’s first 12-week program is $50, and for those who are interested in joining the CRC, there will be an informational meeting on Thursday, March 16, at 6:30 p.m. at Cumberland High School’s Wellness Center. Contact Steve Mangan at steve@nedistance.org or visit www.nedistance.org/community-running-club for more information.

“We hope that we’ll get a good turnout on the 14th,” said Rothenberg. “I hope we can have the same kind of success in the Cumberland/Attleboro area as we have had with our Ronald McDonald House club. We’re excited about it. There’s plenty of room for another club in this state, but we’re all about just encouraging people to be consistent, and over time, get more fit through running.”

Cumberland’s Kim Chula-Maguire, shown competing in the Masters women’s 1,500-meter race during last summer’s U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., is one of the coaches of the N.E. Distance Community Running Club.