ELITE RUN CLUBS: A NEW VISION
by MELANIE MITCHELL | APRIL 2019
ELITE RUN CLUBS USA
ELITE, (BUT NOT AS MUCH AS YOU THINK)
There was a time when once an athlete had graduated from the college coaching system, there were few practical training options. Many Olympic caliber athletes would take full time jobs coaching or otherwise to continue to train when they could to reach their professional athletic goals.
The time was right for a different approach for and so cue the birth of the elite running club. As a option for post-collegiate athletes with Olympic potential, they enable athletes to continue their running careers in an environment suited to elite performance.
These clubs naturally sprung up in key training locals across the US, usually at higher altitudes and many in stunning locations like Mammoth, Calif., Boulder, Colo., and Blowing Rock, N.C., bordering the state's national forests.
On Running, a company dedicated to elevating the running experience for all runners – urban to elite to endurance – is supporting two key elite coaching locations in the US with plans for more. In being part these running clubs, On not only supports a suitable residential environment for some of the world’s best, they also support their mission of providing running education for all ages and abilities.
Check out some of the training opportunities below for us athletes who might be past Olympic glory, but still aspire to greatness on our own terms.
ON ZAPP ENDURANCE: NORTH CAROLINA
On Zapp Endurance was one of the first elite running clubs founded back in 2001.
Under its Zapp Fitness Foundation, the club focuses on elite marathon runners, and is nestled in tiny Blowing Rock, North Carolina, where the athletes train in a mountain location at 3,500 feet of elevation.
Long-time head coach Pete Rea has been with the group since its inception and has lead dozens of athletes to the Olympic trials from 1500m to marathon distances. The current rosta of 10 athletes all live and train at the location and many are readying their performances to peak at the 2020 Olympic trials.
Since the beginning of 2019, On Running has partnered with newly named On Zapp Endurance supporting the resident athletes and coaches through the next Olympic season and beyond.
In addition to their elite athletes and as a non-profit the facility also serves to host high school and college athletic camps. And there’s more! Zapp also offers a unique experience for age-group athletes.
RUNNING VACATIONS AT ON ZAPP ENDURANCE
Aside from their elite coaching residency, ZAP Endurance offers what can only be described as the dream scenario for passionate age-group runners at their Retreat Center. Summer group running retreats for adults at the rural location have the goal of helping those who sign up to maximize their potential
Running retreats are offered in a weekend or week duration to accommodate the reality of ‘adulting’ in the real running world. Imagine being able to set aside a few days to focus on training, while spending recovery time listening to featured guest speakers like Bart Yasso. Yes please, sign this runner up!
The camps offer the everyday athlete with high expectations both the time to focus on training, and professional expertise covering nutrition, training, running form and the all-important mental game for athletic performance. Check out the retreats and plan your next running adventure.
ON ZAPP ENDURANCE: COACH PETE RAE
Zapp Endurace head coach Pete Rae has been with the team since the beginning and has coached with his team more than three dozen athletes to the Olympic trials. His committment to both running the sport and running the lifestyle, is in part what makes the Zapp Endurance experience open to all.
Coach Rae shared with us his thoughts, “Working with runners of every age and ability has been at the core of our mission at ZAP since 2001, marrying our full time pros with people who have been running some for decades and others for only weeks.
Our summer ZAP Endurance running vacations allow our resident pros who live here at ZAP full time to work with our summer guests in a relaxed intimate environment. We always make sure our pros know that these “campers” are the people who truly drive distance running – the women and men of the world who run at 4 am before work, while raising families – without them the pro side wouldn’t exist.”
“Running is a truly transformative activity; simple, childlike and pure and whether you are a full time pro or someone in middle age taking your first running steps the pursuit to better oneself is the same.
Here at ZAP we encourage all of our adult summer guests to see just what they can do. The results are nothing short of amazing.”
MAMMOTH TRACK CLUB, CALIFORNIA
Moving westward to California, the Mammoth Track Club as it is now formally known, was also formed in 2001. Based at Mammoth Lakes in California, it clocks up an altitude bordering 8,000ft! Over the years this elite level running club has produced 13 Olympians and over 30 US National Championship titles.
And included in these stats are the running household names such as Deena Kastor and Meb Keflezighi.https://www.mammothtrackclub.com/
Mammoth Lakes is always been known as an ideal location for high altitude conditioning not to mention breathtakingly beautiful. It’s hard not to be inspired to be your best when surrounded by what the US does best – big, bold scenery!
Again, what started as an elite club has grown beyond its first iteration. The club grew into the name Mammoth Track Club when its state-of-the-art outdoor track opened and the club welcomed athletes of all abilities.
What better way to be inspired by spending ‘Track Tuesday’ on the same stomping grounds as the past, present and future athletic performers.
COACH ANDREW KASTOR
Olympic and elite track coach Andrew Kastor leads the charge at the Mammoth Track Club where they also emphasize the club is both for elites and the rest of us either passing through or those who live in the Mammoth Lakes community.
Coach Kastor share with us how they welcome runners outside of the winter months.
“The Mammoth Track Club (MTC) welcomes everyone! We've always played host to the world’s elite runners, but we also offer an opportunity for folks traveling from far and wide to run with our elite team. During the Summer months, we encourage runners who might be on a “run-cation” to drop-in and run with us on Thursday mornings. We typically get the chatty runner training for a Fall Marathon, asking our elites about our training methods at altitude and seeking overall running wisdom. We love it!
Starting in April, the Mammoth Track Club’s adult membership comes out of hibernation. We begin our weekly Tuesday morning workouts at 7:00am down at the Whitmore Track. The open-to-the-public community track and sporting facility is located 9 miles outside of Town, near the Mammoth Lakes Airport.
The track sits at 7000’ above sea-level and the views are literally breath taking! These coached workouts take place on the same track where some of the worlds best athletes gear up for World Championships and Olympic Games. This proximity to the high level action helps with the “buy-in” of our Mammoth Lakes Community. Our pro athletes are always bumping into local runners at the grocery store or the post office who often lend words of encouragement or appreciation and support.
The MTC elite athletes also get an opportunity to give back to the youth in the area, by playing an active coaching/mentoring role during our youth Summer camp that starts every June.”
RUNNING CLUBS FOR EVERY ATHLETE
On Running recognizes the same qualities in Mammoth Track Club as they do in On Zapp Endurance, a community of dedicated runners supported by those who live and breath their passion for the sport.
Whether elite to amateur, we all have the same goal of being the best version of ourselves. These impressive and aspirational running clubs will only serve to create an ideal for running communities nationwide and beyond.
For more on On Running visit the JackRabbit On Running Experience.
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