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Thursday Training Group

By: Tim Smith

Autumn is a smell as much as it is a time of the year. It is the smell of leaves on their last legs; both the dry and dusty leaves which fall from trees and blow around, and the smell of wet leaves as they pile up and start to decay. Autumn also is the smell of the harvest, the smell of apples and pumpkins. Autumn is also that mix of golden evening light and cool breezes which tells us that we are well beyond summer.

But to me, and most runners, it is the smell of Cross-Country. It is a time to be running on damp grass and dirt trails.

And this is where I crossed paths with the Thursday training group as they were striding across the Dartmouth Cross-Country Ground.


A few months ago Xufeng Pan and Dan Curts recognized that there is a need in this area for aggressive training. UVRC provides a couch-to-5k program, for people starting to run. We also have Saturday morning runs and Tuesday Night Track, which are geared towards UVRS (Upper Valley Racing Series) and NHGP (New Hampshire Grand Prix), and a wide swath of talent in our community. But we don't provide a program for the more aggressive runners training for longer distances. And Thursday is definitely a hole in our training week.

Xu has been with UVRC for a number of years, and Dan runs for Northwoods Athletics. But they recognized that this is a regional need which transcends club boundaries. So in the last few weeks Dan and Xuf have organized a Thursday group with an emphasis on the longer distance. I spotted a few ultra and marathon runners in the crowd and asked if that was the goal. "No, no", I was told, "we have a few members who think the half marathon is just fine." Actually Dan himself is a newly minted mountain runner, and his race at Loon was only a 10k.

On the last Thursday of September I met the squad at Garipay and followed them to the Dartmouth Cross-Country grounds (the old golf course). There were eight or nine of them, and I'm told the number has slowly been creeping up. The workout started with a three mile at marathon pace, and then a series of pick-ups. From my perspective, it was a pretty aggressive pace. But that is what you need to do if you want to be a competitor, a contender.

I asked about who designed the workouts. Xu told me that Dan was the driving force there. Dan admitted that he did indeed write up the plan, but since Xu had told the group he was interested in an Autumn marathon, today's workout was aimed at that event and goal pace.

Xu and Dan told me that they see this as a formative season, take people as there are with a mix of goal races and just train together and get to know each other. But in a few months they expect to sit down with the regulars and see if there are shared goals, and if there are, to tailor the works towards those goals.

At present they meet Thursday at 5:30, but rendezvous a various starting point. If you have question, or would like to get on the mailing list, contact:

Xufeng Pan:

Dan Curts:

I'm expecting exciting things from this group!

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