When the bombings occurred at the Boston Marathon on April 15, Lane Glenn received a flood of calls and e-mails asking if he was running in the iconic race. He was not, but he still felt a part of that community.
“Marathon running is a sport of good will,” he said. “For those of us who are runners, [the bombings] felt particularly atrocious.”
The two bombs near the finish line of the Marathon killed three people and injured more than 260. A few days later, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer also was killed, allegedly shot to death by the bombing suspects.
Glenn, an avid runner and president of Northern Essex Community College, wants people to continue to be involved in the sport, despite the tragedy.
“It’s important to show support and encourage people to get back out there and be resilient and to turn out for races and peaceful competition,” he said.
When Glenn arrived at Northern Essex seven years ago to serve as vice president of academic affairs, he began breaking up his long workday with a 4- to 5-mile run around the campus at lunchtime.
He has been president of the college since 2011, and he’s not only still running, but he’s gotten others to join him.
Glenn’s initiative is the President’s Running Club, which has the slogan “We Run the Campus.”
“I thought it would be a great idea to encourage fitness for employees and students and a social way of getting together,” said Glenn, 45, of Amesbury.
At noon every Monday, members of the group gather in front of the Sports and Fitness Center, then run three laps – 3.3 miles – around a portion of the Haverhill campus.
Then the professors, administrators, and students shower and go back to their offices, meetings, and classrooms.
Some run together on other days as well, and take different routes, such as the scenic 4.5 miles around Lake Kenoza, which is next to the campus
“On any given week, there are four or five opportunities for people to run,” Glenn said.
“I am serious about the message that I hope it sends to employees: Don’t chain yourself to your desk,” he added. “Good physical health makes you more effective in what you do for a living, and makes you generally a happier and healthier person. I always feel better after [running].
“The mind-body connection is important,” he said. “When you are physically disciplined, you tend to be more mentally disciplined.”
The club — which is free — started with faculty and staff, and has grown to include a few students. There are about 40 members, with 15 or 20 running together at any given time. There also is a group on the college’s Lawrence campus.
As for the experience and abilities of the participants, Glenn said, “it’s a wide spectrum from walkers to really accomplished runners.”
“The goal is to enjoy ourselves and for everybody to improve their fitness, wherever they start from,” Glenn said. “It’s about personal goals.”
“When you run with others it gives you motivation to improve,” said David Howard, 69, of North Andover, a tutor in English as a second language. He runs three days a week and said students have told him he is a role model for being so fit at his age.
At the end of each semester, members of the club run a race together, such as the Feaster Five in Andover each Thanksgiving Day.
“We’ve had several people who have run their first or their fastest 5Ks or their first 5 miles,” Glenn said.
This spring, the college decided to sponsor its own race — the first Campus Classic 5K and Fun Run will take place Saturday. Proceeds from registration fees and sponsorships will go to One Fund Boston to benefit victims of the Marathon bombings, as well as to scholarships.
Recently, the club has been running the campus race route in preparation.
“It’s so wonderful that at the end of the semester when we race, these people who didn’t think they could even perhaps walk a mile, run 3.3 miles and they feel so exhilarated,” said Linda Desjardins of Hampton, N.H., a professor of communications and an accomplished runner.
Desjardins, 65, said she was “on board right from the start” with the running club.
“Perhaps, the best thing to me is I have met some faculty members on a social level. We never have had time to chit-chat before,” she said. “And even better, I’ve gotten to know students and have made friendships that continue. Students contact me and ask if we can go for a run. It has expanded beyond what I ever thought.”
Desjardins ran the Marathon, her sixth, on April 15 and recently shared her experiences with fellow running club members. Continued...