The Riversdale Athletics Club is preparing for a once-in-a-lifetime trip and it all started with a simple video.
Last year, Riversdale head coach RossAnn Edwards received an email featuring a Youtube clip of a New Zealand track team performing a unique warm-up routine at a training camp in Kenya. It inspired Edwards to take some of her athletes to the same camp this coming spring.
“We have 34 athletes and (they’re) very talented athletes performance-wise but a really tight-knit group with great team spirit and this seemed like it would be such an amazing adventure for all of us to take together,” she said.
Club members have spent the last few months raising money for the trip. The team has had special uniforms made to mark the occasion and although it’s still three months away, the anticipation is already reaching a fever pitch.
For 17-year-old Dylan Bauman, one of the team’s captains, it’s a chance to experience a new culture while training in a country that’s produced some of the world’s greatest runners.
“I’m looking forward to meeting new people from different cultures, different worlds, and just seeing what it’s like to live like them and maybe sharing a bit of each other’s … knowledge about running,” he said.
The two-week camp in April will see the club training at altitude and in extreme heat and humidity, conditions they simply can’t replicate at home.
“I think this training will really toughen us up as athletes and when we come back…then we have high school cities so we’ll be fresh for the big meet and hopefully we get some records and some wins,” club member Quincy Fast said.
While training is the reason for their trip, the club will also soak up the Kenyan culture and they also plan to give back by bringing dozens of pairs of running shoes with them to be donated to those in need.
“Our athletes come from privileged families and they’re going to see people running with nothing, barely having running shoes. And that’s one of the things we want to do is take some running shoes for kids in school,” Edwards said.
Put simply, the experience promises to leave the young athletes and their coach with a lifetime of memories both on and off the track.
“We will be inspired running with the best athletes in the world, learn how the Kenyans run and we will learn a whole lot about humanity being in Kenya, I’m sure,” Edwards said.
Information about the club’s training shoe drive can be found on riversdaleathletics.ca. People can also contribute to the trip itself by returning their empty bottles at SARCAN and using the code Kenya2019.