Wednesday, August 20th
UNDERHILL, VT --- Ever heard of a running camp that doesn't require much running? That may just be the secret to this teams success.
"This is probably the world's only running camp where we do very little running", said runner Fred Griffin.
Each summer, for three days, new members and veterans of the Fairfax cross-country team camp and train together at Underhill State Park.
"They're really supportive", said Grayson Crounse, experiencing the camp for the first time. "1st year people, cheering you on, supporting you, letting you know what's going on, saying you know, I've been through this before."
Roughly 10 percent of the 400 students at Fairfax run cross-country. That's 40 kids! And this camp includes middle school students as well.
"I sometimes feel that it's not a sports team, it's a youth group. There are so many of them", said Griffin.
"We cook our food together, we have to clean up together.", adds runner Jeremy Lawrence. "We have our lean-to's so you get to know everybody."
"The ages range from 12 to 18 and I think that's the big challenge sometimes", acknowledges Griffin. "Integrating all of that into a positive, safe community, so that everyone grows and can be the best they can be."
Bonding, having fun, and getting into shape are all part of the experience.
"You come back here and it's good to see everyone." said runner Larisa Marco. "Plus a lot of us haven't been doing anything this summer physically so this is like three days you really can just get in shape, rapidly."
But instead of simply running all day, the kids enjoy a long hike in the morning and after lunch, they play games like a different take on the biathlon. They sprint to a designated area, stop and shoot tennis balls into a bucket. Each time someone misses, they have to run a penalty lap.
"It pulls everyone together.", says Grayson. "Everyone is friendly. Everyone is nice to each other. It's like we're a big happy family on the mountain."
A family with a history of success. The boys are reigning state champs. The girl's, runner-ups the last three seasons.
--- Shawna Lidsky