Q&A with Marvin Champion

October 10, 2012 

Q&A with Marvin Champion

City of Residence: Warner Robins

Occupation: Retired Air Force, member of the Robins Pacers Running Club

QUESTION: Cooler weather seems to bring out the runner in people.

ANSWER: It’s true. We have really hot and humid weather here that’s not pleasant to run in -- even at 6 a.m. When cooler temperatures arrive, people want to make up for all that exercise we missed.

QUESTION: How long have you been a runner?

ANSWER: I started regularly in October 1993, 19 years ago. Before that I ran occasionally and tried to run regularly but never stayed in the habit. Growing up I was never particularly athletically inclined. After joining the Air Force, I had to run a 1.5-mile fitness test each year but never had a problem meeting the standard. From time to time I ran some with people at different locations but didn’t keep at it.

QUESTION: So what got you steady into running?

ANSWER: The Pacers. After I was stationed here, a young lady I worked with got interested in running and got with the Pacers. She was outgoing and talked about running and races and the trophies she won. She also had a remarkable weight loss. I decided to start running with them and have been at it ever since.

QUESTION: What was your starting routine?

ANSWER: Another Pacer member, one of the slower ones, and I started meeting at the base track. They’d run three miles. I couldn’t do the whole three, but because it was a quarter mile track you couldn’t really tell who was doing what. A couple of months into it I could run it at the same speed as them. We started venturing off track through base housing and the nature lodge. I worked up to four and five-mile runs. At some point I started running with the Pacers on their regular Saturday morning runs.

QUESTION: So you’re a long-time member since the early 1990s?

ANSWER: Yes, but not the earliest. The pacers began in 1987 with a nucleus of couples that started running together. Steve and Nancy Rosenberg were original members who are still active.

QUESTION: What’s the club like now?

ANSWER: It used to be highly organized, but now it’s more of a loose group of runners. We have people that lead unofficially. It’s free to join, and we still have the Saturday morning runs. We’re very active in sponsoring and working with several races like the Museum of Aviation’s in January and our Jim Herrin run in August. We sponsor scholarships for Houston County seniors. We also serve officially as time-keepers at other events.

I do our website at robinspacers.org, and we have a mailing list of about 400 but not nearly that many active participants.

QUESTION: How many on a typical Saturday run?

ANSWER: About a dozen.

QUESTION: When and where is it?

ANSWER: It’s at 6 a.m. Saturdays starting at the Dunkin’ Doughnuts parking lot on Ga. 96. Yeah, we get jokes about that. We start there and run over to the Cohen Walker Drive area. It levels out into clusters running at different paces.

QUESTION: Walkers welcome?

ANSWER: They are, but there aren’t any walkers at this time.

QUESTION: Is it novice-friendly?

ANSWER: Sure. Usually someone’s willing to hang back and keep pace with a new runner.

QUESTION: What’s a good way to start running?

ANSWER: You have to pick what’s right for you. There are lots of plans online, but one good way is to start walking 30 minutes a day every other day for a week or two. Do what you need to get your body accustomed to walking, Then step it up and walk 15 minutes, run a minute, then walk 15. Do that every other day for four weeks or so. Increase the minute run by a minute until you get to five minutes. After you do, start walking 10 minutes, run three minutes, walk 10 more minutes, run three more, and finish with 10 walking. You can add to your minutes until you’re running the 30 minutes. That’s one way, and it’s good training for a 5K race.

QUESTION: What about the Pacers kept you -- keeps you -- running?

ANSWER: I enjoy the social interaction and the commitment and accountability to others. We spend time talking and socializing before we run, not too much after. Participants in the group usually hit it off with others and find similar runners of the same caliber that they run with on weekdays. Serious runners run throughout the week and are always looking for someone to run with.

Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at mwpannell@gmail.com.

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