By Jake Weber; photos courtesy Katherine Hibbs
Nearly 30 Albion College staff (and some family members) teamed up for a group entry in Kalamazoo's Borgess Hospital Fun Run. From seasoned marathoners to 5K walkers, the FITT Brits group capped Albion's Year of Wellness with one of its biggest successes.
Tom Johnson, former professor of physical education and Albion’s director of wellness, says the group started with Dining and Hospitality Services Director Todd Tekiele. "He and his son were going to do the Borgess half marathon and he wanted a group from Albion to go," recalls Johnson.
FITT (Frequency, Intensity, Time, Technique) Brits met weekly during the fall and spring to learn about and discuss various aspects of running and running improvement. Members trained on their own. For most of them, the Borgess half marathon was their first.
The group "is what motivated me to even sign up. I needed to know other people would do it with me," said Campus Programs and Organizations Director Jennifer Schreer, one of three CPO staffers to run their first half marathons. "Having people to talk to every single day motivated me to keep training even when time and life would get crazy."
Schreer ran the entire 13.1 miles and relished the impression FITT Brits made at the race. "When I finished, a run volunteer said I was the eighth FITT Brit to cross the line. That was really cool to know that we had a presence there; the Borgess people knew we were there."
The 62-year-old Johnson trained for his first half marathon under the direction of his son, Britton, '01. "I did running nutrition, bought new shoes, tracked my progress with a GPS program," he said. The result was an impressive 2:34, despite learning an important lesson the hard way. “When you exercise for over an hour, you need nutrition not just water. I’d never run 13 miles in training and I forgot about that rule," Johnson recalled. "With a half mile to go, I literally ran out of energy. If there hadn’t been so many other people there, I don’t think I would have finished," he said.
Johnson found the experience more than simply a physical accomplishment. "My two sons [Britton and Scott, ’98] are runners and this gave me a closer bond with them. The three of us now converse almost weekly about running.
"Afterward I saw a number of our club and they were all excited," Johnson noted. "It was a very positive outcome for Albion College and for me personally. It was a great finish for the Year of Wellness."