Running club gets new leaders, new options

By Tanner Harding | Oct 05, 2017
Photo by: Tanner Harding Sheryl Briggs and Stephanie Vanasse have taken over the running club for Megan Hall.

Mattapoisett — Running a marathon takes training, determination and GRIT.

GRIT, the acronym for Growth while Running and Inspiring Together, is the reimagined DREAMFAR program at Old Rochester Regional High School.

DREAMFAR, a national non-profit organization, is a program that helps train people to ultimately run a 26.2 marathon little by little, without the pressure of competition. The program has been a mainstay at the high school for the past two years.

However, with two new leaders at the reins, this year's program has been slightly revamped.

Teachers Sheryl Briggs and Stephanie Vanasse have taken over what was the DREAMFAR program for fellow teacher Megan Hall, who headed up the program for the last two years.

As the duo took over, they decided to take the program in a bit of a different direction. Instead of training only for the full 26.2-mile marathon that DREAMFAR aims for, students who participate this year can choose to train only for a 5K [3.2 mile run] or a half-marathon if they so desire.

“We want to personalize the program a little more than we could [with DREAMFAR],” Vanasse said. “We had kids who weren’t interested in running past a 5K or half-marathon, so we want to get them there.”

Because their program no longer follows exactly the DREAMFAR agenda, a name change was in order.

Vanasse got involved with the initial DREAMFAR program two years ago, as a volunteer. The first year she monitored water stops during long runs, and said she the experience got her hooked.

“I was amazed by what the kids could accomplish,” she said.

The next year, she ran the program's final marathon herself.

“I used to only run during nice months, and would do the occasional 5K,” she said. “That first time I ran through the winter it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. You adjust to the snow. The cold rain is tough though.”

Briggs, however, is a long time marathon runner. She ran a little bit the first year of the DREAMFAR program, and mentored student runners in the second year.

“I’ve run way too many [marathons],” Briggs laughed. “I competed in track and field here at ORR and then did it in college. I started running marathons in 2005.”

In addition to running the traditional 26.2-mile marathons, Briggs has also run “ultra” marathons, which can be up to 100 miles long.

Vanasse and Briggs said they appreciate the program not only for the running, but for the life skills it teaches the students and the relationships that are built.

“[Training] really helps them learn how to time manage, and it carries over to academic life,” Briggs said. “There’s a lot of accountability on their part too. There are certain benchmarks they have to meet.”

Briggs also added that it helps build a closeness between teachers and students that they might not otherwise get.

“You can’t help but build a relationship when you’re on a 20-mile run with someone,” she laughed.

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