- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 22, 2017

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - Runners pinned numbers to their clothing and gathered near the riverside trail. The wind was just starting to blow on the brisk morning.

But as runners raced toward the Tate Pump House, the day seemed mild compared to the 40-mph gusts the week before. And it was warmer than the sub-zero temperatures that greeted them earlier this winter.

The Windy City Striders make up a group of running enthusiasts that meet for races and informal runs year-round, no matter the weather. They’ve never cancelled a race, group president Pam Miller told the Casper Star-Tribune (https://bit.ly/2kMxmpg).

“We’re not called Windy City Striders for nothing,” Miller said. Some say they’re crazy for running in snow, rain, wind or shine, she added.

“It’s just that sense of accomplishment. Most of us run during the week. Most of us run in all conditions. So a race is just another day, another condition,” Miller said. “Running just gives you that sense of euphoria, it’s that runners high. It could be classified as an addiction.”

Nearly two dozen gathered at the Tate Pumphouse for the monthly 2-Mile Challenge, a free informal run in which the goal is to beat their previous times. By mid-February, the group was is in the middle of its five-race Winter Series.

The Windy City Striders welcomes new participants, and the Winter Series is great for new racers, Miller said. That’s how she started nine years ago, she said. The winter races build from two to six miles, which helps runners to build endurance and gives them an incentive to get outside and run in the winter, Miller said.

“It’s just to get you out off the couch and moving,” Miller said.

The purpose of the Casper Windy City Striders is to promote and encourage running related activities for runners of all ages and abilities, according to its website. The group hosts races and participates in events, including the Casper Marathon. Members receive discounted race fees and other perks including store discounts.

The runners started their watches and soon spread out over the riverside trail. They returned to cheers from the gathering crowd that grew louder as the last few crossed the finish line.

“Good job, Errol!” a racer called to Errol Miller, 78, as he rounded the last curve in the trail.

“He’s one of my heroes,” said David Kubichek, who joined the group this year. “He’s out here all the time.”

Errol rested with hands on his knees for a moment at the finish line before taking a seat outside the Pump House. Errol, 78, has been running in almost every Windy City Striders race for 15 years.

He has a treadmill in an exercise room at home, but he doesn’t like to use it. He’ll get outside any chance he gets, he said. He doesn’t run the longer races like the marathon anymore, but enjoys races up to 10K, he said.

“It’s not bad at all today,” he said. “Last Saturday was just fierce; that wind was blowing 40 miles an hour right in our face, and that’s a steep hill.”

He received a gift card a little later for the most improved time of the day, beating his time the previous week by a little more than four minutes.

The group ranges in age from early 20s to 81.

“Everyone is out to stay healthy,” Pam Miller said.

That’s why Dave Ortega runs. He lost 60 pounds by walking, running and eating healthier food, he said. He was easily winded in daily activities and had lower back pain, which now has disappeared.

“It was either get another size pants or lose weight,” he said.

He joined the group two years ago when he saw the Winter Series in the newspaper. Running with the group helps him stay motivated, but the best part is the camaraderie, he said.

“Everyone’s got the same desire to run no matter what the conditions are,” Ortega said.


Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, https://www.trib.com

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