Running club mixes fun with fitness
Friday at 6 a.m. is a time when most UA students hope not to have to open their eyes, much less operate. For members of the Arizona Running Club, they're already up and off to the races.
The sports club meets to train every weekday - 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 6 a.m. Mondays and Fridays.
On every run, a different member of the five-person executive board leads a run around Tucson, varying from three to five miles.
Variety is something that the club, now in its third year of existence, thrives on. Filled with former high school track, cross country and marathon runners, the club's members all love to do one thing: go.
Club President Jesus Vasquez said that the choice of runs depends on the day's leader.
"We try to do some different things, like take a trip up to Sabino Canyon or Saguaro National Forest," said junior Vasquez, who ran the Boston Marathon last year.
The club was founded three years ago by Diana DeRosa and Davi Vitela. Both were crosscountry runners in high school, and when Diana was a freshman, she didn't want to run alone in Tucson in the dark. Thus, the club started out as a network for runners.
"Plus, neither of us like running on treadmills," she said.
Both Vitela, who is studying abroad in South America this year, and DeRosa thought that the club would be a hit because of students' interest in getting in shape.
"We wanted to promote student health and give students a way to get together and meet other people to run on their own or with us," DeRosa said. "Students say they're going to get in shape and then come, but the idea is to get in shape while coming to the runs."
The club has grown in its three years, Vasquez said. There are currently almost 30 active members, and each run averages six or seven participants.
Vasquez, who works in the weight room at the Student Recreation Center, often recruits runners right off the treadmills at the Rec Center, he said.
DeRosa said the club's off-campus runs, or "field trips," are considered one of the most fun things about being a member.
"We love running the eight-mile loop at Reid Park," she said. "How many times can you run around campus?"
DeRosa said the positive response to the different types of runs has led to the club's consideration of holding two off-campus runs per week.
In addition to daily activities, the club participates in a few local runs every year. This year they intend to run in Jim Click's Run 'n' Roll (eight kilometers), the Cruise for Cancer 10 Miler and the Tucson Marathon, where the club usually brings a few half-marathon runners, full runners and relay teams.
To keep up with the Arizona Running Club, check their Web site at