Whitman Running Club clears a trail for casual runners

Zac Bentz, Campus Life Editor

When sophomore Jake Wang, a former member of the cross-country team, noticed a significant split between Whitman’s varsity runners and the broader running community, it gave him an idea. Why not start a club where runners of all levels were not only welcome to attend, but encouraged?

After reaching out to friend and fellow runner Livvy Eickerman about making the idea a reality, the two began spreading the word to a small network of mutual friends, all of whom responded with enthusiasm.

Now, Whitman Running Club has been gathering three days a week, offering both morning and afternoon runs to accommodate runners’ schedules and preferences.

“Even though I’m not on the team anymore, I still love running. And that passion persists,” Wang said.

For Eickerman, the value of the running club comes from creating a group setting where everyone feels comfortable participating, and members can feel like part of a close-knit community. She also sees it as a great way to get folks acquainted with the greater Walla Walla area.

“In terms of the society that we live in, I think it’s way easier to have a healthier mindset with running when you’re running with a group,” Eickerman said.

In the weeks since its inception, the club has quickly found firm footing within the greater Whitman community. Their success has come about as a result of both positive word of mouth and a targeted series of emails sent out to the student listserv.

Honestly, I was kind of confused why there wasn’t a running club last semester, and early on in this semester, I met Jake… and he talked about it and I was sold,” said sophomore Joe Wogsland. “The club has a really welcoming atmosphere.”

Wang and Eickerman have also been receiving consistent emails from fellow running enthusiasts thanking them for finally creating a space that feels welcoming to casual or inexperienced runners, something which they say Whitman lacked for far too long. The most exciting correspondence has been from individuals who attended the club’s organized runs despite never having run casually before.

“One day, we had a club member who showed up and was like, ‘I’ve never run before. This is my first time running three miles,’” Wang said. “And I was just really glad to hear something like that! Because we actually are making a difference in terms of people’s well being.”

Wang and Eickerman are looking forward to planning more exciting events in the coming months and are encouraging anyone in the community who is interested in running to give the group a try.

“We really do hope that people take advantage of this opportunity and be a part of this community, because we would love to have you!” Wang said.