Berks Catholic Senior Starts Running Club

Posted on June 4, 2021 by


Recently, a Berks Catholic senior formed a running club for those looking to train with others. 

The biggest reason for this group starting was that Cade McLaughlin, the senior who started the group, was looking for someone willing to make running during the pandemic less lonely. He had just lost his childhood best friend to cancer and was looking for someone else to join him. Little did he know how many were willing and the friendship they would all create. 

The summer after the pandemic started, with no races in sight, Cade McLaughlin went searching for training partners. The Berks Catholics senior put every name that sprung to mind into an Instagram chat to see who was interested. McLaughlin wasn’t sure if anyone would respond. Everyone did.  A running club quickly formed. It was designed to make workouts fun while also improving skills, but it turned into so much more. 

¨The community of distance running is the best thing this sport has to offer,¨ McLaughlin said. ¨This group of friends is the best thing that’s ever happened to me and the rest of us as well.¨

This group, named after a convenience store, walked away with its share of medals at the Firing Meet last week. This meet represents the best runners in Berks. Schuykill Valley’s Luke Seymour won the 1600 and 800. Twin Valley’s Noah Taylor captured the 3200 and was second to Seymour in those other races. Exeter’s Alex Holbrook brought home a silver medal and two bronzes. Wilson’s Caryn Rippey won the mile and two-mile.

The members of the club raced together. They raced against each other. They celebrated each other’s successes.

¨They’re my best friends in the world,¨ said Rippey, the only girl in the group. ¨I don’t know what I would do without them. A lot of times when I’m upset, they’re the first people that I go to. They just make me feel so welcome.¨

The club also includes Kutztown’s Mitchell Brett, Twin Valley’s Iain Taylor, and Wyommising’s Dylan Forrester.

The COVID-19 outbreak was a grim time for athletes. Being stuck at home with no chance to compete was deflating. It brought a feeling of isolation for everyone. Getting together and sharing those challenging workouts proved therapeutic, particularly in a sport that is so mentally demanding.

¨There’s times when we just feel like we’re done, ¨ Holbrook said. ¨All of our friends always help us. They bring us out and motivate us.¨

Distance running was the one sport that may have benefited from the long pause. There was time to train without worrying about first-place finishes. 

¨Being around them makes me better,¨ Rippey said. ¨It makes all of us better as runners and as people.¨

The results this school year have been very impressive. The top four finishers in the Berks boys cross country meet in the fall were Noah Taylor, Seymour, Holbrook, and Brett. Rippey won the girl’s title.

¨It makes meets a lot more fun,¨ Holbrook said. ¨It makes it feel more like a hang-out. It allows me to focus on my race and cheer everyone on. It’s a bigger support system cheering me on. It helps with everything.¨

Noah Taylor and Holbrook had an epic race in the 3200 last week. Seymour and Taylor had a photo finish in the 800.

While it might seem difficult to balance friendship and competition, this group does it well. There are no hard feelings after wins and close losses.

¨I think we all know that we’re out there to compete,¨ Seymour said. ¨We all have our own goals. We´re all just trying to be the best we can.¨

McLaughlin made his own memory this spring. The senior broke Berks Catholic’s school record when he finished the mile in 4:34:61. That record was a goal for McLaughlin and his childhood friend Myers, who died of brain cancer seventeen months ago. The two were training partners. McLaughlin went searching for someone to make running feel less lonely. To help him get through the pandemic, he found some of his closest friends.

¨I was desperate at the time,¨ he said. ¨I needed people to train with. They showed up for me. They’ve been there ever since.¨

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