Club Scene

The River City Run­ners, Ed­mon­ton

Canadian Running - - DEPARTMENTS - By Tania Haas

Any­one cheeky enough to call the River City Run­ners’ sym­bol a pace bunny risks a good thump­ing. It’s a snow­shoe hare with hind legs build for speed. They’re fast year-round, they thrive year-round (even through the harsh Ed­mon­to­nian win­ter), and they gather at 6 a.m., six days a week.

“There’s usu­ally a marathon group t hat is train­ing for sub-three hours and another train­ing for around 3:10,” says Nick Keyko, who along with Kacey Keyko (Nick and Kacey are mar­ried) and Ken­dall Bar­ber, founded the crew in late 2014.

With around a dozen run­ners com­mit­ted to the crew, ca­sual join­ers are also wel­come for speed work or other train­ing. Mem­bers are earnest about their big goals, and the hard work re­quired to chase them. In over a year run­ning to­gether, the pos­i­tives are mea­sur­able. “My marathon time has im­proved by over 14 min­utes from a 3:16 to a 3:02, and my half-marathon fell from over a 1:30 to 1:25,” says Bar­ber, who met Kacey Keyko af­ter the two con­nected on so­cial me­dia.

The crew has a so­phis­ti­cated on­line pres­ence, but face-to-face in­ter­ac­tions are the real draw for the friend­ships they fos­ter. “Fun, big-hearted peo­ple who love to run, train and race,” says Bar­ber when asked to name the best part of the rcr crew.

“I’ve learned so much and have had so much fun,” adds Josh Bergman, one of the crew’s new­est mem­bers. “From peak marathon train­ing to the Van­cou­ver Half-Marathon to Sin­is­ter 7 to the cul­mi­na­tion of my first marathon with them all wait­ing at the fin­ish line for me.”

They also ex­plore Ed­mon­ton’s more than 150k

of multi-use trails. As the largest ur­ban park in North America, it’s 22 times larger than Man­hat­tan’s Cen­tral Park. The crew’s year-round favourite is the Bird House Trail. With a canopy of trees over­head and a river along­side, it’s im­pres­sive in any sea­son. Other top routes in­clude River Val­ley Road for in­ter­vals and Hawre­lak Park for race pace. “These places are as­so­ci­ated with that good pain that comes with hard work­outs,” says Kacey Keyko. “There’s a quiet re­as­sur­ance that you’re in it to­gether.”

Of equal im­port to runs at dawn and a need for speed is the crew’s com­mu­nity ser­vice.

Over two years, an an­nual 2 4-hour tread­mill ini­tia­tive has raised over $60,000 for Kids in Ac­tion, an af­ter-school run­ning pro­gram for 200 kids at seven lo­cal schools. Par­tic­i­pat­ing el­e­men­tary-aged kids train through the school year for a spring 5k, where train­ing in­cludes coach­ing, a healthy meal (of­ten the chil­dren’s most nu­tri­tious and ful­fill­ing meal of the day) and new shoes.

The #RCR24H ini­tia­tive was born af­ter a Kids in Ac­tion race in 2014, when one crew mem­ber ran with a young girl who suf­fered the en­tire 5k in ill-fit­ting, non-run­ning shoes. Many other kids that May race day were seen run­ning in snow boots and Crocs.

“So we de­cided to run for 2 4 hours to raise enough money to buy the all of the kids new run­ning shoes,” says Nick, who ex­plains that funds are raised by tread­mill and spin­ning spots sold for a 2 4-hour group run and cy­cling event.

“That huge en­gage­ment from yo­gis, run­ners, per­sonal train­ers and oth­ers has car­ried through to this year and it’s great to see,” says Nick.

Other rcr events in­clude Dark­est Night yeg, an 8k on the win­ter sol­stice, and Run Col­lec­tive ev­ery Wed­nes­day.

“Be­ing ac­tive in the broader Ed­mon­ton run com­mu­nity has made my heart swell,” says Kacey.

TOP River City Run­ners in their home­town of Ed­mon­ton

ABOVE With a sec­ond-place fin­ish for the women’s team, and a third for the men, River City run­ners cel­e­brate at the fin­ish­line to the Sin­is­ter 7 Ul­tra trail race

OP­PO­SITE Post Sco­tia­bank Toronto Water­font Marathon

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