By James Day
The Silverton Runners Club is turning 40, and organizers are planning some new events to boost participation in the club, which works to support running programs in Silverton and Mount Angel.
The club, which was organized in 1982 by Silverton resident Amy Castle, is taking over management of the 5-kilometer and 10-kilometer runs associated with the Mount Angel Oktoberfest. This year’s runs will be held Sunday, Sept. 18, and the 10K course has been tweaked to include the grueling test of the hill that leads to the Mount Angel Abbey. Proceeds from the races will benefit club programs, including scholarships to help lower-income runners participate.
Silverton High grad David Castle, the track and field coach at Gervais High School and the son of club founder Amy Castle, said the runs are moving from Saturday to Sunday “because there is less traffic on Sunday morning and hopefully the runs will bring in new people to the festival.”
The club also is working with both the City of Silverton and Silver Falls School District to spruce up the perimeter running path at Silverton High School. The path, which is nearly a mile in length, consists of wood chips, with club volunteers planning to switch to gravel.
The project will cost approximately $10,000, with the city agreeing to provide nearly $6,400 for materials. The rest of the cost will be split between the club and the school district, where key partners include Foxes coach and health and P.E. teacher Erik Cross and district ground supervisor Lorin Stanley.
The club also plans to organize informal training runs because, as Castle put it “there are more runners in Silverton than in any other town I’ve seen.”
The concept is simple. Show up on Sunday morning at the covered pavilion at Coolidge McClaine Park and run. Castle and his organizational partner Steve Ritchie, the long-time cross country and track and field coach at Kennedy High, say there will be different courses and distances each week and that runners of all ages and experience levels are welcome.
Castle and Ritchie say they hope to restore the momentum and interest present when Amy Castle ran the organization. Amy, who died in 2010 at the age of 93, did not get involved in running until her 60s when she began following David’s high school and college running career. She ran races into her 80s, David recalled.
“My mom was the kind of person who when they got interested in something, they went all in,” he said. “And she was good at bending your ear and getting you involved.”
The club also will continue to run the Homer Classic races, which are held in conjunction with the Homer Davenport Community Festival in August. Proceeds from the Homer event also benefit Silverton Runners Club programs.
Those interested in participating in Silverton Runners Club activities should call David Castle, at 740-312-4692 or Steve Ritchie at 503-559-4643.