Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

By Jocelyn Rowley
Editorial@lhvc.com 

Melody Fairchild expands youth running program

 

August 26, 2018

Glen Delman

Members of the Boulder Mountain Warriors during a meet last year.

World-renowned distance runner Melody Fairchild is bringing her vaunted Boulder Mountain Warriors school-age running club to Longmont.

Launching in September, the 13-week Fall Cross Country program is open to students ages seven to 14 who have a passion for running and want to develop their skills both on and off the course.

“We want students to leave with a solid knowledge-base about how to be a healthy balanced runner,” Fairchild said of her six-year old program. “I want them to have the nuts and bolts, including how to warm-up, how to govern their pace in workouts, how to pace and get the most out of themselves during races, and, most importantly, how to recover.”

Bi-weekly practices begin on Sep. 5, and will be held at Dry Creek Community Park in South Longmont through Dec. 8. The team is slated to compete in five meets through the season, including the state championships on Nov. 3.

“I had a great time there and learned a lot,” Niwot sophomore Taylor James recalled about her time as a Warrior. As a freshman, James won a state track title and a cross country regional title for the Cougars. “The coaches are so supportive. They really try to help you find your love for the sport.”

Fairchild said she has seen a tremendous growth in youth running over the past several years, particularly among the region’s middle school cohort. She was moved to start her own club for this age group in response to some “uncomfortable” scenes she witnessed in meets and other youth running events.

“I saw children crying, I saw parents yelling at their kids, and I saw coaches yelling at their kids,” she recalled. “I thought, ‘I don’t want to be any part of it’.”

But then she had a change of heart.

“I really believe that I have a positive message to share,” she said. “I grew up here, I have a great genesis story from my own running career, and if I don’t do it, then I’m missing out on the opportunity to positively influence a lot of kids’ lives.”

Fairchild took the running world by storm in the early 1990s when she was a student at Boulder High. During her time there, she won eight individual state titles, two national titles, and was the first high school girl to break 10 minutes in the two-mile. Several of the records she set back then still hold today, including the Colorado girls high school record in the 5k (16:36). She also won the Bolder Boulder for three straight years.

Her career plateaued in college, but Fairchild has remained an active member of the running community, both as a coach and competitor. Since returning to Boulder about a decade ago, she has been involved in group training and mentoring through her running programs, including the Boulder Mountain Warriors.

Fairchild’s cross country program focuses not just on getting faster and fitter, but also emphasizes interpersonal growth, goal-setting, and team-building. After reflecting on her own “journey with running,” she devised the “Five Pillars” of the Boulder Mountain Warrior: passion, courage, commitment, kindness, and resolve.

“My coaches and I rest on the belief that if those are emphasized, the running will take care of itself,” she said.

James credited Fairchild’s Five Pillars concept with helping her become “a stronger runner and person.”

“The character part was really important,” she said. “The stories that came with them [the Five Pillars] really stuck with me and it changed me as a person.”

James is also an alumnae of one of Fairchild’s Girl’s Running Camp, a five-day intensive summer program that invites girls ages 13-18 to “Strengthen your running soul with friends, fun and challenge in the beauty of the Rocky Mountains.”

Born out of Fairchild’s “passion for empowering girls,” the camp aims to help them reconnect with the positive aspects of the sport in a supportive environment.

Glen Delman

Members of the Boulder Mountain Warriors school age running club show off their medals after a race.

“My camp is designed to address the issue of pressure of all kinds, from within and from without,” she said. “I feel like I’m trying to do damage control because so many messages are coming out to girls telling them that they’re supposed to be somewhere else that they’re not.”

At the end of the day, Fairchild said her goal is to give young runners the tools to be better runners without extinguishing their passion.

“I want them to go into high school with a sense that the fire has been lit,” she said, “like a hot bed of coals that they’re ready to put fuel on and start meeting goals with success…When I see kids in high school that have been with us, they just glow from the inside with joy about running.”

For more information about the Boulder Mountain Warriors Fall Cross Country program or to register, visit http://melodyfairchild.com/boulder-mountain-warriors/.

 

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