Reviving the Running Club


Felicity Knabenbauer

A club that died out years ago is being revived by a local professional runner. The running club is for anyone in the Whitewater community as well as on campus. The President, Salaar Akbar saw a missing piece in town for a positive space for both beginners and seasoned runners to partake in.

Q: What inspired you to become a runner?

Like a lot of people, I view running as a way to stay in shape and to make sure I am maintaining fitness. Usually around the times where I didn’t have other things keeping me occupied in terms of fitness. In the off season a lot of people get into running. However, I have very quickly transitioned from that to running being sort of like my safe space. A place where I can destress and always rely on it any time I need it. That’s probably the main reason why I have kept up with running.

Q:What motivated you to revitalize the running club?

 Last semester was my fourth semester on campus and it also coincided with the fact that I would actually be living in Whitewater. So this was a really good opportunity for me personally to become more connected. Running is also really accessible which is probably one of the biggest reasons why I founded the club. I felt that in speaking with some of the other students on campus that there was a real demand for a space that was accessible, accommodating and welcoming for people to run. There is all this demand because for running,  you don’t need anything other than a good pair of tennis shoes and maybe a good playlist.

Q: What steps did you need to take to revitalize the club?

Usually when you want to join a club you can fill out an interest form that gives you information about what clubs the university offers. I saw that a running club was not currently offered so there was an opportunity there for some student leadership. I notified them that I was interested and throughout the semester I met with our system director Matt Snyder over in the Williams center. He gave me a month to think about it. Throughout the month I kept seeing signs that it would be a missed opportunity if I didn’t. The next steps were getting the club recognized officially by the university.   

How is the running club different from the UW-Ws recreations?

Obviously we have our intercollegiate Mens and Womens track and field teams and then cross country but that is really only available to a certain group of runners who are really, really dedicated. I totally respect that and look up to it but in terms of everybody else that space is just lacking. That’s another reason why I founded the club in the first place.

As the president of this revitalized club do you have any worries starting it back up?

Of course I do, that may not give you a big vote of confidence but it is a healthy worry I would say. Most worries have been alleviated since starting the club such as maintaining a certain level of membership but I am proud to say that in our first five meetings we have had a 90% retention rate, which is really high. 

Is there anything you would like to say to those who may be debating joining the running club?

Running club aims to be accessible, welcoming and accommodating. It is available for all students and community members who seek to improve, learn more about and/or simply practice their running. Additionally, something really cool about our club is that our advisor is actually the assistant coach for our universities cross country club as well the Men’s and Women’s track and field teams. He has a lot of experience and many of our roughtes are the same one’s the Men’s track and field team uses around the city of Whitewater.

With summer on the horizon there are many individuals, both on and off campus, who are looking for a group to encourage their running skills. The running club is just the opportunity for most to go for a run while having the benefit to get connected with other runners.