Runners shed pounds, gain friends through ‘Fit in 50’

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 24 September 2015 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers  – John Given of Elba runs at Mount Albion Cemetery with the Fit in 50 group on Thursday evening. Given has been a regular each week with the program. He has lost 100 pounds in the past three years, including about 15 since January.

ALBION – A community exercise program that started on a blustery Saturday morning back in January has continued each week with participants getting together for a run or a walk.

The “Fit in 50” program through the Albion Running Club has had 117 people join for a walk or jog at least once during 2015. A core group of about 15 show up each week. (The weekly runs shifted to 6 p.m. Thursdays at Mount Albion Cemetery, and will likely move back to Saturdays on Oct. 17.)

“It’s the consistency that gives you the best reward,” said Joe McPhatter of Albion.

He has brought his infant son, Jai Li, on many of the runs, pushing him in a jogger stroller.

McPhatter said his blood pressure is down and he has lost 5 pounds since January.

Some of the Fit in 50 have opted to be in Run for God programs at the Albion Free Methodist Church or to exercise on their own.

Joe McPhatter pushes his son Jai Li in a jogger stroller while out for a run at Mount Albion this evening.

Through nearly nine months of the program, 17 of the participants have lost 121 pounds this year, with most seeing drops in blood pressure and body mass index. That’s an average loss of 7 pounds per person.

The collective weight loss numbers should grow as the Albion Running Club, organizer of the effort, collects more data from the runners and walkers.

Brian Krieger, one of the leaders of the program for the Albion Running Club, said Fit in 50 has made a difference for the participants, improving their health and connecting them with other runners.

John Given of Elba ran the Strawberry Festival 8-kilometer race in June 2014. The Running Club organizes that race. It sent out a mass email to Strawberry Festival runners, informing them about the “Fit in 50.”

Given received the email and decided to try the Saturday run in January, even when the weather was cold and snowy.

“I thought, ‘This is just what I need to get me going in the winter,'” he said about the group runs.

Given, 57, has lost about 100 pounds the past three years, from a high of 284 pounds. He has been a regular for the Albion runs each week. He had never ran farther than an 8-kilometer race before this year. He set a personal best finishing the 10-mile Metro 10 race in Albion on Aug. 22 and then ran a half marathon for 13.1 miles on Labor Day in Geneseo.

Given comes to Albion for the group run once a week, and tries to get in one or two more runs on his own each week. He enjoys the camraderie in Albion.

“It’s been wonderful with the fitness, meeting new people and making friends,” he said.