Staff members establish on-campus running group

The Runner's Collective
The Runner's Collective
From left, staff members Jared Dauenhauer, Kristi Woody and Lee Wilson run on campus Feb. 7 with faculty member Alfred Custer, right. | Photo by Matt McDaniel

Since the beginning of the school year, a group comprised of Union faculty, staff and students has come together with the goal of making exercising fun.

University Ministries Director of Discipleship Lee Wilson started the running group and has been deemed the unofficial coach by its members.

Wilson’s wife, Beth, is a graduate student at Union and also runs for the cross country team.

“My wife really enjoys running, but I seem to fit the stance most people place on running, the idea of it is great but the actual act of running is miserable,” he said. “Seeing how much my wife enjoys it inspired me to get together a group of people to make it a point to enjoy running.”

It all began as a handful of friends getting together after work and running a mile, and then overtime the number of people in the group grew as well as the distance of the run.

Today, about 20 people have joined the running club and a group of about 13 or so consistently run together.

The members of the group meet in small groups at different times during the day whenever others are available to run with them. “Coach Wilson” usually sends out a text message to group members around noon to notify when groups are going running.

“Sometimes we will go on shorter runs around the inside of campus; other days we will go on longer runs on the outside of campus,” said Kristina Woody, web design specialist at Union and member of the Runner’s Collective.

The atmosphere of the group is informal and all about encouraging one another to simply be a part of the group and run.

Being a part of a group really does make running more fun plus long runs are hard to do alone and a lot easier to do with others.

“Running with friends is fun, you really begin to enjoy and love all the people who are a part of the group. We get to know one another in a way you don’t get to normally in the workplace or through a casual friendship.” Wilson added. “Running multiple times over the course of the week, there are very long periods of time where you have nothing to do but talk and run, and so you each get very familiar with each other.”

The group serves as a resource for those interested in exercising and running to push each other to improve to longer distances and faster times.

Focusing on encouraging one another while exercising is not the only thing the group members are focused on; being intentional with each other and growing in friendships is also important.

Alfred Custer is in his first year teaching for the School of Pharmacy at Union and has been able to get plugged in on campus rather quickly through the Runner’s Collective.

Custer attends City Fellowship Church in Jackson, which helped him get to know other faculty members from Union and eventually become a part of the running group.

“Being a part of this group has really served as a form of fellowship for me with the opportunities it has provided me to encourage members of the group with literal and metaphorical races every day,” Custer said.

Eight of the group members ran in a half-marathon together in the fall with each member crossing the finish line.

The group’s next goals include doing another half-marathon and beating their previous times. Some are thinking about running a full marathon at some point.


To find out more information about the Runner’s Collective, contact Lee Wilson at

Image courtesy of Cardinal & Cream|Cardinal & Cream
About Lydia Wright 38 Articles
Lydia Wright is a member of the graduating class of 2015 and the Sports Editor for the Cardinal & Cream. A public relations major and marketing minor, Lydia is also a member of the Union University volleyball team and avid sports enthusiast.