'Savannah Striders' encourages health, community

Meredith Stutz - It's one thing to talk the talk. It's another to walk the walk.

Just before 7:00 a.m. on any Sunday morning, a group of 50 to 60 people of all walks of life gather at the Savannah Coffee Roaster's for the first time or, for some, the 30th time. They're here to jump start their mornings and catch up with old and new friends.

Since 1978, the Savannah Striders running club have gathered early in the morning hours to run and walk around the downtown Savannah area and Lake Mayer.

Each run can be personalized for each runner's needs, abilities and goals. One common goal is for runners, and walkers alike, to hit "the sticker," a sticker stuck to the end of the walkway near the Marriott Hotel along the Savannah River signaling them that they can turn around and head back.

After the Striders finish their route, they return an hour later to Savannah Coffee Roaster's for a post run meal and quality conversation.

"That's really kinda the secret why we run," Savannah Strider's President Theron Lambert said. "You can eat whatever you want to after you put in a nice run or walk in, we have walkers too as well as runners.

While the group currently has more than 600 members, Lambert promises the groups dedication to making memories over earning medals.

"We have a nice running group. We don't take ourselves too seriously. I mean none of us will be at the Olympics in two weeks. So we come out and have a good time," Lambert said.

Whether training for a marathon, a 5K, or seeking to create quality friendships, Lambert stresses the Strider's welcome all.

"It's so much support regardless of your level, regardless of your fitness ability," Allison Stearns said. Currently Stearns is in a brace after having dislocating her knee cap, but it hasn't stopped her mornings with the Striders. "It's social so you actually meet friends who are in the lifestyle of running health."

The group also does a team run on Saturdays as well as social events to encourage community outside of the weekend runs.

There is a $35 yearly member fee to join the Savannah Striders.

For more information check out the group's Facebook page and website.

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