ANAMOSA - How does the old saying go?
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stay these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.
That’s been the post office motto for generations. But, if you just replace the word ‘couriers’ with the word ‘runners’, then it also applies to the 2019 Anamosa Running Raider Marathon Club too.
The dozens of kids to take to the challenge from club coaches Nic and Heather Weers, faced daunting weather demands over the past few months, that also included rain and wind and cold, and then finally, on the last mile the runners needed to complete, snow.
“We’ve never seen a season like this weather-wise,” said Nic Weers as he handed out awards to the kids who completed their 26-mile marathon distance Friday, Nov. 15, at the middle school.
“There were times when the weather was so bad that I asked the kids if they really wanted to go out and run that mile in those conditions, and they always were up for the challenge. They weren’t going to back down from anything.”
About four-inches of snow and below freezing temperatures didn’t slow down the runners either early Friday morning, as the Weers’ handed out trophies to everyone to completed their journey.
“The end of the Raider Club was a very emotional one,” said Heather Weers. “Some of the sixth graders have been with the club for a long time. Simon Robertson has been with us since kindergarten (that’s a total of 182 miles he completed). Brooke Heying and Griffin Embree have been with us since the first grade.”
Why do these young Raider runners put themselves through the brutal challenge?
“I do it because it’s fun,” said sixth grader Samuel Williams. “I like running and just being out here with my friends. I like getting the exercise too. It feels good to get out here and run. It makes me feel better every day that I do it.”
But, according to Heather, the club isn’t about just running.
“It’s about being a team,” she said. “It’s about building confidence. It’s about continuing something you committed to whether you feel like it that day or not. It’s about understanding that not every day is a good day, and you won’t get your best time every day. But that’s ok.
“Nic and I try to teach the kids about real life situations, but little do the kids know, they are teaching us life lessons, too.”
Robertson, one of the club’s original runners, gets it.
“I wanted to be a part of something that pushed me to get better, and I wanted to get better at running,” said the Anamosa sixth grader. “It’s a challenge to finish the 26-miles, and at the start it looks pretty tough, but we all want to get here to the end and we all did it.”
Robertson, who plans on playing football once he gets to middle and high school levels, still loves every aspect of running.
“I’ll probably do football and cross country next year when I’m in seventh grade,” he said. “But running is good for every sport. I’m always trying to beat my best time, too, which is something Nic and Heather taught me a long time ago. Always keep fighting to get better. That’s what I’m always going to keep trying to do.”
As Nic Weers was handing out trophies in the bitter cold Friday morning, tears came to his eyes as he saw his huge collection of runners end their long journey.
“There is no cheating in this club,” Heather said. “If the kids don’t complete all 26 miles, they don’t get a trophy. The kids know this from the start and I think it makes them more proud of themselves because they know they completed what they needed to and did it by themselves.
“It’s impossible to explain how proud we are of each and every kid in the running club. People thank Nic and I for the club, but it’s thje kids who ‘refuse to be average’ who should get the credit.”