Runners Issue Invitation To Join New Club

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Casandra Stouder's love of running has its roots in her American Indian heritage.

Born to a mother, who is a member of the Navajo tribe, and a Seminole father, Stouder was raised in an environment where running was a way of life.

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Casandra Stouder's goal is to start a running club in the Rim Country. The club will meet at 1 p.m. each Saturday in Rumsey Park.

"It (running) is a tradition in both those tribes," she said. "Almost everyone runs."

Casandra's dedication to long distance running led her to join the Tonto Apache Track and Field team in 1999 and later become a member of the Payson High School cross country and track teams.

Following her graduation from PHS four years ago, Stouder married and now has two young children.

Although motherhood is more than a full-time job, Stouder continues to find time to enjoy both recreational and competitive running.

She competes in most town-sponsored 5Ks and sometimes travels to the Valley for events there. She's also a member of Payson Athletic Club where she trains almost daily.

While working out at PAC, she and fellow club member Jerry Baker -- also a former Longhorn cross country and track team member -- mulled over the idea of forming a running club where the two could share their love of the sport with others.

Weeks ago, Stouder and Baker decided to make their running club dream come true by recruiting Rim Country athletes of all ages and abilities.

Stouder said the recruiting for club members began at PAC, then spilled over into the community.

After gathering a group of interested runners, Stouder and Baker's next task was to name the new club.

"We call it ‘Runner's High Club' because (the high) is among the reasons running is a part of us," Stouder said.

She explained a ‘runner's high' is the state of euphoria runners often feel when they are extremely stimulated both physically and mentally.

The Runner's High Club now meets at 1 p.m. every Saturday at the large ramada in Rumsey Park.

The club members' goal is to enjoy weekly long distance runs and to train for competitions in Payson and the Valley area.

For Baker, competition is no stranger. He was the 20- to 29-years age group champion at the town-sponsored Turkey Trot in November and ran in the Rim Country Challenge Half Marathon.

Stouder and Baker have issued an invitation to interested runners, joggers and walkers to join the club by attending one of the Saturday meetings.

For more information, call Stouder at (928) 978-1744 or Baker at (928) 978-5363.

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