Angie Maxwell is a physical therapist – one that believes in “realistic fitness.”
“You have to be realistic,” Maxwell said. “You have to make it fun because people won’t stick with it otherwise. To me, all the research says, if you exercise with a friend and you make it fun you’ll tend to stay with it. My hope was to just get people moving.”
It was with that thinking that Maxwell formed the Rain Warriors 5K Club three years ago.
It can be a daunting task joining a running club if you are attempting to pick up running for the first time or making a return to the sport following a layoff or an injury.
Maxwell has taken steps towards eliminating that with the Rain Warriors.
“For starters, we’re not a running club,” Maxwell stated. “We’re a 5K club, not a running club. We welcome all fitness levels. You can walk, you can run, you can jog. We have people bring their dogs. They bring strollers. We just want as many people getting out there as possible.”
From mid-March through the end of October, club members meet every Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. in downtown Olympia at Charlie’s Bar & Grill.
“We’re out there rain or shine,” Maxwell said. “It’s usually rain though hence the name of the club. This last fall was pretty rough, but we have 50 to 70 amazing followers every week from all levels of fitness. We are probably 60 percent walkers right now.”
The group, with its focus on lifelong wellness through support, is modeled after the Run Amok Irish club in Centralia – a club Maxwell created after moving from Spokane to Lewis County.
When she relocated to Olympia for her work in physical therapy she discovered the area had more than enough running clubs available, but nothing quite like what she developed in Centralia.
She quickly changed all that.
“When I moved here I found no one was really doing a family-friendly club,” Maxwell said. “A lot of the clubs were more competitive for people 21 (years) and over. I wanted a club that was friendlier to walkers. Because to me, walking is the best form of exercise. If you get out there and walk three miles. That’s great. It’s an exercise that’s great for your heart and good for your bones.”
The club currently has 14 different routes, with several incorporating scenic Capitol Lake, with the courses being mixed up from week to week.
“We do have some weeks where people have the choice between a 3- or 5-mile option,” Maxwell said. “There’s a little bit of variety. We have some new board members who have designed new routes. We will have dress-up theme runs every now and again. We did a neon 1980s run not too long ago. A red-white-and-blue run in July. One of our members had the idea of everyone wearing their favorite race shirt. It’s just fun to get people involved. We try to keep it fun. Our members seem to like it.”
The ultimate goal with each outing is to complete the 5K. Members are awarded club prizes, ranging from t-shirts to jackets, after competing 6, 16, 26, 50, 75 and 100 5Ks.
Once a member has earned a club shirt after their sixth 5K they can participant in local races with that race being counted towards their club’s 5K total.
“We have several members who started out as walkers. They lost weight and wanted to increase it to more run-walking. They asked us how they could go about doing that, and we advise them on how to get more into running. We also have people that get more serious into running as they improve and start working towards marathon,” Maxwell said.
“This is our third year. It takes time, but we have a nice strong base,” Maxwell shared. “Every week members look forward to seeing each other. We’ve had friendships develop and even a couple romances. There’s been people who have said the club helped save their life and inspired them to get going. That’s what we want to see.”
To learn more about Rain Warriors 5K Club, visit their Facebook Page or simply join them for a Tuesday night 5K.
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