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Sun, Fun and Long Runs in St. Augustine

By David Boegaard

St. Augustine, Florida, is one of the most remarkable cities in the United States, with deep and distinguished historical roots, beautiful architecture, and wonderful people. It also has perfect beaches and unusually temperate weather for Florida. The people of St. Augustine, FL have long been known for their sophistication and community-spiritedness, but not everyone thinks of athleticism when they think of St. Augustine. Since 1982, the Ancient City Road Runners have been working to change that by spreading knowledge and excitement about running, and by meeting weekly for runs through the city.

The Ancient City Road Runners (ACRR) started in 1982, only 450 years after the city of St. Augustine was founded by the Spanish. They hoped to get together a group of other local people interested in running, in order to encourage one another and run together. Significantly, they also seek to promote and inform people about the many benefits of running.

The ACRR has been a clear success. "The club was first established in 1982 and has been growing in size and community involvement since," says Amy Michie, President of the ACRR. "We have a strong and consistent presence here in Saint Augustine." While the group started small, they now have more than 300 members!

The club is composed of a typical board, elected by member vote. At the beginning of each meeting, the club circles and announces club events and plans. Everyone states their name and how far they plan to run, then they set off!

Over time, many of the group members have become strong friends, and the ACRR organizes numerous events. But even the typical meeting allows plenty of time to meet new people and reinforce old friendships. "There is usually some social gathering after each regular run," notes Michie, "either in the parking lot as runners finish their loop and/or at Starbucks after the Publix runs or Cafe 11 for breakfast after the OFC runs."

But meeting new people and running with old friends though a glorious city is only part of the fun from the ACRR. They also contribute and organize numerous events and programs throughout the city.

One such event is the Matanzas 5000, held this year for the 36th time. "This is our race and we are very proud of the contributions were are able to give back to the running community with the profits made through the event," says Michie with pride. "All proceeds are given to local middle and high schools running programs as well as FSDB."

In the summers, the Ancient City Road Runners put together a running camp for students starting grades seven through twelve. "It is just one more big way we give back to the community and help secure the future of our running community as well."

Ultimately, the ACRR rises or falls with their ability to persuade people of the value of running. Whether it's because people want to be part of a great group or because they just want to run, the group has been an astonishing success. But the ACRR doesn't let that get to their heads, suggests Michie. "We are an eclectic group of people from all walks of life that share a common bond through running."

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