Running Club Helps Build Community Within The Earth Institute

by Judy Jamal |December 6, 2019
running club group photo

Running Club members pose for a picture after 4-mile run on November 20. Shown here: Alison Kelman, Alix Schroder, Andrew Miller, Natalie Unwin Kuruneri, and Cassie Xu.

The Earth Institute Running Club began informally in 2014, initiated by Joshua D. Fisher, a research scientist with the Earth Institute. The central goal of this endeavor was to build community among staff members.

Gradually the club evolved into small ad hoc after-work events and turned out to be a great way to break up routine work for students and researchers. The intent of the Running Club has always been to welcome everyone without intimidation, as well as to start and end together as a mode of encouragement regardless of pace differences. Early members included Natalie Unwin Kuruneri, Meredith Smith, Suzanne Lipton, Kim Nguyen, Danielle Coon, Bodi Reagan, Joan Lopez, and Shahar Sadeh. Some have since left the institute, while some continue on along with other staff members, graduate students, and postdocs.

Conversations about formally launching the club began in 2018 with Alix Schroder and Andrew Miller, who presented the idea to the Earth Institute Leadership Committee. Finally, the club gained momentum and inspiration from Columbia University President Lee Bollinger’s 5K run, in which several people from the Earth Institute participated. It was quite evident that people were eager to participate in the Running Club!

The first official group runs were held on November 18 and November 20, 2019, where people braved the rain and cold to come and show their support.

In addition to organizing runs, the group has set up a website in order to facilitate community-building and coordinate groups in a virtual environment.

More than 30 people have already joined this virtual community to connect and contribute to our larger community. Even though the group is still growing, there are talks of other group activities like yoga, stretching, trail running, bike rides, and even hosting our own Earth Institute 5k run! Overall, the Running Club has been an inspiration and we cannot wait to see how it evolves in the future.

Judy Jamal is a coordinator in the director’s office at the Earth Institute.

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