Runningworks Camp – By Katie Vandervalk

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Last summer,  I was blessed enough to attend two running camps. Since I was put on the waiting list for Dartmouth, my family signed me up for another camp, Runningworks, as a back up. I can honestly say that this was one of the best weeks of my life. Because I was whipped into shape from the camp at Dartmouth, all the runs felt pretty much fabulous. They were less workout-oriented and more concerned with building your base mileage for the season. Located at Camp Canadensis in the Poconos, there were plenty of trails to run and plenty of fun to be had.

Again, I went by myself. This time, however, I was put in a cabin with all the other “loners”, the best thing that could have possibly happened to me. The bond I formed in six days with these twelve girls was unbelievable. When you sleep, eat, run, and compete in various games and activities with the same group of people, you become extremely close. In addition to the friends made in my cabin, I also made friends with the girls and guys in my running/form drills group. The thing I liked about Runningworks was that there was more structured fun, and more to do. At Canadensis, there were plenty of activities to partake in, such as kayaking, or (my personal favorite) Gaga, a form of dodgeball that takes place in a small wooden octagon. There was also more required fun activities, such as a scavenger hunt, trivia night, and a dance at the end of the week.

The running “curriculum” was quite different there also. The two hard runs of the week were the long run and the 4/5x000m threshold workout, a workout designed to increase your heart rate capacity and allow your body to get used to working hard. Although it stressed my body to the limit, I had a wonderful time.

The best part of the week for me, unexpectedly, was hearing Marcus O’Sullivan (camp director, as well as being the cross country coach of Villanova, and an Olympian who has broken four minutes in the mile over a hundred times) speak about his life. It was so inspiring to hear how he rose to greatness from being a boy who didn’t even make his middle school track team in Ireland He talked about life after high school, how he would go running at night with his mentor, come home to watch Eamonn Coghlan succeed in the United States, and how he would aspire to be just like him. When we watched the clips of him beating Eamonn Coghlan in the Indoor Championships, when he talked about the moments of living his dream, I began to cry. The next day, it was Marcus O’Sullivan’s speech that kept me running through pains of the workout. Marcus O’Sullivan’s hardworking attitude had inspired us all, and continues to inspire me to this day.

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